The stars on the page, the voice in the sky : myth, Ovid and the Cree elders in Robert Bringhurst's Ursa Major

Variant title
Les étoiles sur la page, la voix dans le ciel : mythe, Ovide et les aînés cris dans Ursa Major de Robert Bringhurst
Source document: The Central European journal of Canadian studies. 2019, vol. 14, iss. [1], pp. 149-165
  • ISSN
    1213-7715 (print)
    2336-4556 (online)
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Canadian poet, translator, linguist and typographer Robert Bringhurst is a 21st-century humanist of penetrating lucidity and intellectual alertness. Since the early 1970s he has been composing a poetic oeuvre that is woven out of beautifully tessellated threads from various literary traditions. For over thirty years now he has been writing poems for multiple voices where he seeks to emulate the manyvoiced or polyphonic nature of reality. To this end, he looks back to the old in their knowing, not just the Pre-Socratic poet-philosophers, but also the Oriental sages and the myth-tellers of the oral literatures of the First Nations. This article explores a universal myth from Mediterranean and Amerindian traditions as expressed in the book-length poem Ursa Major. A Polyphonic Masque for Speakers & Dancers (2003), a complex object art that sheds lights on timeless universals pertaining to humankind in its entirety in spite of the passage of time – the timeless desire for happiness and for knowledge.
Le poète, traducteur, linguiste et typographe canadien Robert Bringhurst est un humaniste du 21e siècle d'une lucidité et d'une vivacité intellectuelle pénétrantes. Depuis le début des années 1970, il compose une oeuvre poétique tissée à partir de fils magnifiquement tesselés de différentes traditions littéraires. Depuis plus de trente ans, il a écrit des poèmes à voix multiples où il cherche à imiter la nature polyphonique ou à plusieurs voix de la réalité. Pour ce faire, il se tourne vers les anciens, non seulement les poètes-philosophes pré-socratiques, mais aussi les sages orientaux et les conteurs de mythes de la littérature orale des Premières Nations. Cet article explore un mythe universel des traditions méditerranéennes et amérindiennes exprimé dans le poème Ursa Major (2003), un art objet complexe qui éclaire les univers intemporels de l'humanité dans son ensemble malgré le passage du temps – le désir intemporel du bonheur et de la connaissance.
[1] Bloomfield, Leonard. Sacred Stories of the Sweet Grass Cree . Ottawa: National Museum of Canada Bulletin, 60 (Anthropological Series, 11), 1930. Print.

[2] Bringhurst, Robert. The Blue Roofs of Japan: A Score for Interpenetrating Voices . Mission: Barbarian Press, 1986. Print.

[3] Bringhurst, Robert. Conversations with a Toad . Vancouver & Shawinigan: Éditions Lucie Lambert, 1987. Print.

[4] Bringhurst, Robert. New World Suite No. 3 . New York: Center for Book Arts, 2005. Print.

[5] Bringhurst, Robert. Everywhere Being Is Dancing . Kentville, Nova Scotia: Gaspereau Press, 2007. Print.

[6] Bringhurst, Robert. Ursa Major . Kentville, Nova Scotia: Gaspereau Press, 2003. Print.

[7] Clarke, George Elliott. " Bringhurst's Ursa Major Shines Brilliantly ." The Chronicle Herald (Halifax), August 10 (2003): C7. Print.

[8] Dickinson, Mark. " In the Wake of Our Ancestors ." The Times (London), 8 August (2009): Weekend Review 12. Print.

[9] Henderson, Brian. " Poet on Point ." Canadian Literature 186 (2005), 117–118. Print.

[10] Higgins, Iain. " Bear Bones ." Books in Canada 33/2 (2004), 42. Print.

[11] Pound, Ezra. " Things to Be Done ." Poetry IX, 6 March (1917), 312–314. Print.