Aug 3, 2014

Les Pensées by Lucienne Holland McKay and Lilian Polk

She survived war when her family did not, battled for liberty with the French Underground, and fell in love with an American doctor in Paris. And throughout her too-short lifetime, she recorded her innermost thoughts and impressions with intensely personal poems.

The daughter of a French physician, Lucienne Hollard McKay's poetry reflects many of her thoughts, her moods, her intimations. In them one finds pain as well as gaiety; and fantasy, delight, and ecstasy. Tremendously personal, the poems are set down in the author's native French
and were never intended for publication.

To honor Lucienne's memory after her passing, her husband selected more than fifty of these poems to share with the world. They appear herein, filled with all the nuances and delicate iridescence of their original expression. Translated with dedicated friendship by Lilian Polk, the English poems appear side-by-side, next to the romantic language in which they were created.

In these poems, daydreams commingle with reality, life and death are interwoven, and always there is an ethereal beauty-even in the midst of tragedy.

Lucienne Hollard knew the mighty and the lowly, enjoyed the society of the famous, and worked closely with the nameless ones of the French Underground during World War II. Everywhere her life took her, she remained a dauntless spirit with an unbounded verve for whatever life brought. No other memorial could conceivably preserve, as if still alive, the exquisite personality of its author.

 Lucienne Holland met her American husband during the war and moved from Paris to the United States. She was an active member of the French Underground. After many years of living in the US she passed away way too early. Her husband made a selection of her poems to honor Lucienne and her poetry. Lucienne writes about her personal thoughts and feelings. Some of her poems are happy, others are serious and she also writes about religion. Lillian Polk has translated Lucienne's poems in English. 
The English version of Les Pensées also contains some of the original French poems. As I can read both French and English this was fantastic for me. Lillian Polk has been able to capture the beauty of the French poems in her amazing translations. I loved the poems. I read several of them a couple of times, because they were so beautiful. Lucienne Holland's poetry is clear and honest. I loved the way she used her language. I was especially moved when I read her romantic poems. Because she has a very accessible way of writing the meaning behind the text is easy to understand. Lucienne found a way to perfectly translate her feelings into poetry and I loved it.  

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