Philippe Jaccottet

Philippe Jaccottet is a poet and translator who publishes in French.

Portrait of Philippe JaccottetPhilippe Jaccottet

Philippe Jaccottet

Born in Moudon, Switzerland, in 1925, Jaccottet has lived since 1953 in Grignan, in the Drome region north of Provence.

cover image of the book Seedtime


Since 1947, when his work first began to appear, Philippe Jaccottet has published six volumes of poetry, two of criticism, three of prose-poetry, and several translations from the German. Seedtime (’’La Semaison’’)––the title he has given to his notebook journals written from 1954 through 1967––is an especially good introduction to this leading post-war French author, containing as it does passages in both prose and verse. In explaining the word semaison, Jaccottet has drawn a parallel between his sense of the yearly scattering of seed––the sacredness of the act, the uncertainty of its results––and the sense he has of poetry and the written word. Him, his own description on the jacket of the original French edition (Gallimard, 1971): “The despairing happiness of words, the despairing defense of the impossible, everything which contradicts, denies, mimicks or blasts. At each instant it is like the first and last word, the first and last poem, embarrassed, solemn, without probability and without force, stubborn fragility, an enduring fountain; and again, in the evening, its sound against death, flabbiness, stupidity; again, its freshness, its limpidity against drivel. Again, the star out of the scabbard.”

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