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Yves Bonnefoy obituary

French poet and essayist who believed in the sacredness of the here and now

“I would like to bring together, almost identify, poetry and hope.” So wrote the French poet Yves Bonnefoy, who has died aged 93. Poet, essayist, art and literary critic, translator and editor, Bonnefoy sought throughout to make clear the ground on which this hopefulness was to be built.

Over the course of more than 60 years of writing, he never ceased insisting that happiness and fulfilment were not to be sought in some other world, but rather in the here and now of our earthly condition and in the simple realities that all people share. His poetic project was profoundly spiritual, but it was atheistic. “The really modern act,” he wrote in his 1961 book Rimbaud, “is to want to found a divine life without God.”

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