Lebanese Poet and Essayist Salah Stétié, 90

The Lebanese poet, essayist, art critic, and diplomat Salah Stétié died last night in Paris, his family announced:

With publisher Farouk Mardam-Bey. Photo credit: Olivia Snaije, 2015.

Born in Beirut, on December 28, 1929, Stétié was a poet and former Ambassador of Lebanon to France, and spent much of his life in France.

One of the best-known Lebanese poets writing in French, Stétié was considered one of his generation’s leading Francophone poets.

He founded the cultural weekly L’Orient littéraire in Beirut and lived two parallel lives, as a writer and as a diplomat, in Paris, Morocco, and elsewhere.

He published at least forty books, and was awarded Le Grand Prix de la Francophonie de l’Académie Française en 1995.

Marilyn Hacker’s translation of his “The Garden of the One” was published in Words Without Borders in 2008.

It opens:

The snail is necessary the bindweed is necessary
The cold leaves and their dew
The walls too placed in the light
And our hands’ weaving in the light
Beneath the etched white angle of the almond trees
Where our stalemates sleep a while—all that
Our breathing
Launched into the infinite to drown itself and dissolve us

His bilingual edition Cold Water Shielded: Selected Poems, translated by Michael Bishop, was published by Bloodaxe Books in 2000.