Translator's notes

Elegy for a Friend

By Guy Goffette

‘Elegy for a Friend’ is from a short collection entitled Tombeau
du Capricorne
, published by Gallimard in 2009, and dedicated to the poet Paul de Roux, Goffette’s close friend, who had suffered
a stroke. The ‘Capricorne’ was a café near the Place de la Bastille where the poets often met. Goffette is one of the few French poets who continues occasionally to write wry, contemporary rhymed sonnets in alexandrines. But a thirteen-line poem, as part of
a sequence or standing on its own, made up of three usually unrhymed quatrains and a last line which sometimes, though not always, mounts to the classic 12 syllables, has become Goffette’s ‘signature’ strophe since his 1991 collection, La Vie Promise, and it is the form he chose for this homage to friendship and meditation on our brevity.

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