Brian Coffey's earlier translations of Mallarme have long been prized for their inventiveness, subtlety and intelligence. The present translations of fifteen poems by the great French poet constitute a shaped dialogue between homage and alternative statement: Coffey's versions illuminate the obscurities of the originals, but at the same time, while retaining an essential fidelity to Mallarme, his words also create something new.
In this bilingual volume, Coffey, Ireland's senior poet and a figure of European stature continues his earlier explorations in translation.
The book contains an Introduction by Coffey in which he discusses the problem of "difficulty" in poetry as it relates to the work of Mallarme, and suggests an approach discounting this general attitutde by invoking Yeats and "The fascination of what's difficult" (which Coffey presentshere in both English and French versions).
Brian Coffey was born in 1905. In the early thirties he studied chemistry in Paris, where he was close to Beckett and Maritain. Later he contributed to Eliot's Criterion. During the forties and fifties he taught philosophy at an American university and mathematics as a schoolteacher in London.