American poems are more associational and biographical than British poems, I read somewhere online yesterday...oh, an essay from Jacket (date?) about Seamus Heaney that harked back to Alvarez's 1980 NYRBooks review of Field Day.
This morning some twinge sends me off to read a bit of Dujardin's Les Lauriers sont coupés (1887) where I find an evocation of an April evening in Paris, "les feuillages d'ombres": the foliage of shadows. Here's the passage, roughly translated:
"...a bright evening with the sun setting, the monotonous noises, the white houses, the foliage of shadows; the evening softer, and a joy in being someone, of going about; the streets and the crowds, and in the air, very far off, stretched out, the sky; Paris all around sings, and in the mist of perceived forms, . . " and so forth. Les Lauriers is thought to be the first novel to use stream of consciousness. . . .
Anyway, what stopped me, for one, was the neatly twisted "foliage of shadows," which reminded me of walking under a thickly-leafed chestnut tree that was hanging over someone's house wall on my way home one evening in the Paris suburbs, back when we lived in the Paris suburbs. It was dark (in Dujardin it is not dark, it a spring evening sunset--what time of day would that be?), it was mild--there was a street lamp and walking under the chestnut tree, though the thick shadows it cast on the sidewalk (not forgetting the probable dog shit on that sidewalk), was like walking through some substance--and then out the other side into less dense air.
The funny thing about Paris is that it is a twilight city: I mean, it's a place you want to be between seasons (in "la demi-saison", in fashion terms), not in the glare of summer, not in winter.