Á la lumière d’hiver (1977) is a central work in the writing of the Swiss French poet Philippe Jaccottet (1925-2021). Written in middle age, it forms a bridge between the poet’s intricate early lyrics and his more expansive and meditative later work. Starting from a direct confrontation with the raw facts of mortality, its three poem-sequences strip away further layers of illusion until a glimmer of meaning starts to appear in the ‘winter light’ of the landscape of the Drôme area of northern Provence, where Jaccottet made his home from 1953 until the end of his life.
Tim Dooley’s translation, In Winter Light, is the product of a long relationship with the original, which he first read at the time of its publication. His English version mirrors the tentative, scrupulous exploration of being he finds in Jaccottet’s French, both its hesitancies and circular movements and, finally, its ‘unblinking eyes’.
Philippe Jaccottet. Translated by Tim Dooley. Paperback, 210 x 135 mm, 82 pages, October 2022.
Tim Dooley is a tutor for The Poetry School and a mentor for the prison charity, Koestler Arts. He was reviews and features editor of Poetry London between 2008 and 2018, a visiting lecturer at the University of Westminster from 2016 to 2021 and a judge for the John Pollard International Poetry Competition at Trinity College Dublin in 2019 and 2020. He was previously a schoolteacher for many years. His poetry collections include the Poetry Book Society Recommendations: Tenderness (Smith Doorstop, 2003), Keeping Time (Salt, 2008), and Weemoed (Eyewear, 2017). His most recent collection, Discoveries, was published by Two Rivers Press in April 2022.