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Highgreen Arts

Jules Supervielle

Homesick for the Earth
By Jules Supervielle Translated by Moniza Alvi

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Homesick for the Earth

Bilingual French-English edition

Jules Supervielle (1884-1960) was born to French parents in Montevideo, orphaned within a year of his birth, and grew up in Uruguay and France. He spent the Second World War exiled in Uruguay, afflicted by ill health and financial ruin.

His poems are dreamlike, often gently fantastical, imbued with an appealing surface clarity:

One day we’ll say ‘The sun ruled then.

Don’t you remember how it shone on the twigs,

on the old, as well as the wide-eyed young?

It knew how to make all things vivid

the second it alighted on them.

It could run just like the racehorse.

How can we forget the time we had on Earth?

His work stands apart from much 20th-century French poetry, and he has been characterised as a writer of Basque descent who wrote in French but in the Spanish tradition, with a strong affinity for the open spaces of his South American childhood and nostalgia for a cosmic brotherhood of men. In many respects he seems our contemporary, a writer of highly personal poems as well as poems concerned with war and the environment.

Moniza Alvi writes: ‘I have been making versions of Supervielle’s poems for several years, strongly drawn to his style of writing, while also finding coincidental parallels with my own life, such as his birth “elsewhere” on another continent. My aim has been to retain the spirit of the French poems, and as many of their implications as I can, while making a poem that has a life in English. I thought he was an enchanting, inspiring poet who deserved to be so much better known in this country.’

‘In her striking versions of poems by the French poet Jules Supervielle, written against the backdrop of wartime France, Moniza Alvi has found a soul-mate, a poet companion’ – Penelope Shuttle, Poetry London

£9.95  paperback 
1 85224 920 X.  112pp. 2011. 

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Other books by Jules Supervielle:
At the Time of Partition
At the Time of Partition (ebook)
BPI1 : Bloodaxe Poetry Introductions 1
Carrying My Wife
Europa (ebook)
How the Stone Found Its Voice
Split World
Split World (ebook)