That Light, All at Once Selected Poems Jean-Paul de Dadelsen, Marilyn Hacker

The Margellos World Republic of Letters
Publication date:
22 Sep 2020
Yale University Press
232 pages: 197 x 152mm
Sales territories:


A revealing collection of midcentury French verse forged in the war that reshaped our understanding of the human condition

A pan-European poet whose short life spanned the nadir of the twentieth century, Jean-Paul de Dadelsen grapples with the dissolution of meaning and the limitations of religion after World War II. His poetry is an acerbic and humane assessment of French and European spiritual and cultural identity—drawing on the past and imagining the future, while remaining firmly rooted in the present.
Poet and translator Marilyn Hacker, who received a PEN/Heim Translation Grant to complete this collection, describes Dadelsen as possessing “an expansive (and very masculine) voice, but capable of modulating itself in dramatic monologue, not a genre explored much by contemporary poets in French.” Taking on such varied personae as King Solomon, Bach, provincial French women, and a Hungarian resistant in the 1956 uprising, Dadelsen’s poetic explorations provide acute insight into the European consciousness during its unprecedented upheaval.

Jean-Paul de Dadelsen (1913–1957) was a journalist, soldier, teacher, and civil servant. He joined de Gaulle’s Free French Army in London during World War II. Marilyn Hacker is an American poet, critic, and translator. She lives in Paris. 

“Written in the aftershock of World War II, Jean-Paul de Dadelsen’s robust, irreverently reverent poems—deftly translated by Marilyn Hacker—speak from the fissured heart of Europe, and are nothing short of a revelation.”—Gabriel Levin, author of Errant

"Jean-Paul de Dadelsen's poignant poems tear me out of myself and reveal the presence of new things. His landscape of plains and rivers, swept by wind at the eastern edge of France, comes into focus, along with a powerful autobiographical realism and a God who remains silent. I so admire these strange, erudite, spiritually resonant poems."—Henri Cole

"With these flawless translations by poet Marilyn Hacker, we can finally take the full measure of Dadelsen’s achievement. His work is that of a witness who has seen the worst man has to offer, but responds, as if in defiance, with praise."—Ellen Hinsey, author of The Illegal Age

“In this masterful collection, Dadelsen’s unique sacred-profane music is rendered perfectly. That Light, All at Once is a gift to us.”—Yusef Komunyakaa, author of Everyday Mojo Songs of Earth

"Jean-Paul de Dadelsen’s poems spring out of a personal territory of intelligence, experience, and deep feeling, reminding us now of Brodsky, of Laforgue and Rilke, yet entirely individual. A major modern poet."—George Szirtes, winner of the 2004 T. S. Eliot Prize for Reel