John Scotus Eriugena at Laon and Other Poems
Poetry by Jacques Darras, Trans. Richard Sieburth
World Poetry Books, September 2022
John Scotus Eriugena at Laon is the “long overdue volume” of Jacques Darras, celebrated French poet of place and nature, and prolific translator and scholar of American and British poetry. The title poem recounts the journey of a ninth-century Irish monk to the cathedral city of Laon in the heart of Picardy to translate a recently discovered Byzantine manuscript into Latin—the first such transmission of ancient Greek thought northward into Carolingian Europe. Eriugena’s pithy formulation of neo-Platonism—omnia quae sunt lumina sunt—echoes forth in Pound’s Pisan Cantos as “all things that are are lights.” This is the radiance that pulses through the theophanic nature poetry of Jacques Darras, celebrant of northern rivers, islands, seas, and bard of Picardy. His lifelong commerce with the English language as the translator of Shakespeare, Blake, Whitman, Pound, Bunting and MacDiarmid is here met by Richard Sieburth’s wide-ranging and award-winning forays into French. Richard Sieburth is the translator from the French of works by Nostradamus, Scève, Labé, Nerval, Baudelaire, Artaud, Leiris, and Michaux. His translations from the German include Hölderlin, Büchner, Benjamin, and Scholem. In addition, he is the editor of a number of Ezra Pound’s works.