Poems Under Saturn: Poèmes Saturniens

Paul Verlaine (Author) Karl Kirchwey (Translator)

Product Details

Princeton University Press
Publish Date
March 20, 2011
5.49 X 8.47 X 0.52 inches | 0.52 pounds
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About the Author

Karl Kirchwey is professor of the arts and director of the Creative Writing Program at Bryn Mawr College, and, from 2010-2013, the Andrew Heiskell Arts Director at the American Academy in Rome. For many years he was director of the 92nd Street Y Unterberg Poetry Center in New York City. His six books of poetry include The Happiness of This World and Mount Lebanon.


"Karl Kirchwey's translations of early Verlaine are true to the emotional coloring and musicality of the originals, their Baudelairean ambiguities of feeling, their exciting mixture of dictions. 'Classic Walpurgisnacht' is one of many renderings which seem to me masterly."--Richard Wilbur, author of Collected Poems, 1943-2004
"Beautifully attentive to Verlaine's moods and melodies, Kirchwey catches the harmonies and dissonances, the tenderness, bile, and rage, of Verlaine's astonishing first book of poems. With its learned introduction and notes, this translation is a work of art of the first order: a perfect introduction to the young Verlaine for readers who do not know French, and a graceful meditation on Verlaine's poetics for readers who have long known and loved the poems in the original."--Rosanna Warren, author of Departure: Poems
"In these Poems Under Saturn, Verlaine's early 'self I was then' springs out strangely and inventively. Yet they feel like now."--Mary Ann Caws, editor of The Yale Anthology of Twentieth-Century French Poetry
"This is a historical event in the translation of lyric verse--the first valuable English version of Paul Verlaine's first and best book."--Richard Howard, author of Inner Voices: Selected Poems, 1963-2003
"Attentive both to precise and shaded meanings, Kirchwey's careful translations find the true Verlaine in verse respectful of the original rhyme schemes."--Martin Sorrell, University of Exeter
"Although this line occurred in Verlaine's third book, Rimbaud may well have also have been familiar with the first, 'Poemes saturniens, ' or 'Poems Under Saturn, ' which was published in 1866 and has recently appeared in a deftly rhymed and metered new translation by Karl Kirchwey that offers it for the first time in English as an integral volume."---Lydia Davis, New York Times Book Review
"Karl Kirchwey achieves some masterful effects in his translation of Verlaine's large collection Poems Under Saturn. . . . Kirchwey can be wonderfully accurate in rendering the meaning of Verlaine's words and is very sensitive to the rhythm of the lines. His translation of the final stanza of 'Evening Star' is remarkable: The barn owls awaken and, silent/Oar the black air with their heavy wings/And the zenith fills with dull glimmerings./Pale Venus rises, and it is night. Using 'oar' as a verb is a touch of genius and enlivens the verse."--New York Review of Books