Brittany’s Eco Warrior: The Environmental Poetry of Anjela Duval – Lenora A. Timm *


In his recent overview of North American environmental literature—The Environmental Imagination (1995)—Thoreauvian scholar and literary critic Lawrence Buell suggested four criteria by which to identify what he calls “ an environmentally oriented work, ” which may be applied equally to prose or poetry. In brief, these are:

  1. The nonhuman environment is present not merely as a framing device but as a presence that begins to suggest that human history is implicated in natural history.
  2. The human interest is not understood to be the only legitimate interest.
  3. Human accountability to the environment is part of the text’s ethical orientation.
  4. Some sense of the environment as a process rather than a constant or a given is at least implicit in the text.[1]

While the environment or, more commonly, “ nature, ” in some sense has been a common theme in poetry and other literary creations since time immemorial, many writers have found it difficult, or perhaps unimaginable, to write about nature or the environment from anything but a homocentric perspective. The “ green movement ” in Euro-American literature of recent decades (notably since the 1970s) has self-consciously endeavored to be more ecocentric in its themes and expressive genres. Indeed, environmental literature has emerged as a distinct specialization for younger cohorts of literary scholars, in both creative and critical dimensions, and there are both acknowledged leaders and admired precursors within this branch of the literary enterprise, eloquently discussed—for the American case—in Buell’s work, cited above.[2]

As one familiar with the poetic œuvre of Anjela Duval (1905-1981), I have long been struck with her love of nature and with environmental issues, and in contemplating Buell’s defining characteristics of environmental writing, I realized that by these criteria Duval clearly merits inclusion in any honor roll of “ green poets, ” though I would guess that, given her life circumstances on a relatively isolated farm in pays tregorrois, she had little awareness of the environmental movement in literature that was gaining momentum elsewhere.

While Duvalian scholars have certainly been appreciative of this poet’s sensitivity to nature, more attention has been paid to her as a nationalist poet and as an inspiration for several generations of Breton activists who have sought greater political and economic autonomy and a cultural/linguistic renewal for Brittany. Only recently has she been characterized as an ecological poet before her time.[3] I believe this is fundamentally correct, and her understanding of the importance of preserving healthy ecosystems (though she did not employ such language) is manifested in a number of her poems that, in an earlier work of mine, I categorized as “ social criticism ”—which it was.[4] However, it has become even more evident in the most recent collection of Duval’s poetry[5]—much of it previously unpublished—that eco-environmental themes were very prominent in Duval’s thinking and ultimately in her poetic expression. She rightly deserves a place among other 20 thc. writers who have modeled an environmental critique in their poetry.


Brittany’s Eco-Muse
in Comparative Perspective

What I will do in this essay is to highlight the environmental and nature dimensions of Duval’s poetry, drawing occasional parallels to three prominent North American poets who are admired for their compelling handling of ecological/environmental themes, and human-nature interactions—Robinson Jeffers, Mary Oliver, and Wendell Berry.[6]

Of course, Duval was also a “ nature poet ” in the more traditional sense of one who paid attention to, and honored, nonhuman creatures, natural forces, and landscapes, and some of her most exquisite poems in my opinion fall under this rubric. Like the New England poet, Mary Oliver, Duval also had a genius for “ bringing nature into focus through painted particulars, ” as one critic has written of Oliver’s work.[7] The pertinence of this remark is evident in Oliver’s “ Goldenrod ”: “ on roadsides,/ in fall fields,/ in rumpy bunches,/ saffron and orange and pale gold,/ in little towers/ soft as mash,/ sneeze-bringers and seed-bearers,/ full of bees and yellow beads and perfect flowerlets… ” Similarly, Duval’s “ An Delioù Kentañ ” (“ First Leaves ”) offers a verbal water-color of the subtle hues in early spring foliage to be discerned by the careful observer:

Sunday they were still gray

And their branches naked,

The row of poplar trees

So tall and so thin

On the edge of the meadow,

Contemplating their image,

In the dark water of the Leger.

—Today they’ve changed color.

They’re neither pink nor yellow,

Nor are they at all green,

It’s a subtle shade, known only

To the Great Painter…

Tender, delicate and fragile,

Like an idea germinating

in the mind of a child [8]


In “ Dibreder ” (“ Carefree ”) Duval paints a “ rural tableau ” that deftly depicts the lush countryside near her farm and also captures the subtle but characteristic behavior of dairy cows at rest:

A border of flowering broom

A golden sea gently undulating

Carefree in the shade of an oak tree

Three cows stretched out on the grass

Ruminating greens and dreams

Now and again an ear is raised 

Just like a fan

To flick away a fly

sucking rheum in the corner of their eyes. [9]


Within the plant kingdom, trees reigned supreme for Duval. She knew, as deeply rooted peoples do, all the plant species in her territory, but she particularly delighted in writing about trees. She ends one poem that wonders how she came to love trees so much from early childhood—“ When I caressed their bark/ With my babyish hand./ When I glued my ear against them/ To listen to the rustling of their leaves ”—with the speculation that “ Perhaps I was a tree/ at the beginning of time… ”[10]

In another poem, “ Er C’hoad ” (“ In the Forest ”) she revels in reciting the “ magical names ” of the trees to be found there, which seem to cast a sort of spell over her: “ White-oak. Forest-aspen/Maple. Hornbeam/ Black-alder. Willow. White Birch./ /My thousand mute friends. ”[11]

Duval’s affection for all creatures, animal or plant, certainly motivated many of her poems, but this poet was also driven by a powerful sense of the destructive forces of the technologies and global economic expansions of the 20thc., not only in terms of their potential for devastation of traditional ways of human life—including the rural existence she had known as a small farmer—but also for their effect on wildlife and landscapes. Some of her environmental poetry is anything but pastoral, manifesting instead a horror at the discontinuity she saw unfolding between humans and nature, as people became increasingly detached from their rural roots and traditions. In a tone akin to that of a number of Robinson Jeffers’ poems, Duval not infrequently blasted away at the rottenness of cities, viewed not only as pits of decadence but as destroyers of the natural countryside. Jeffers, who lived in the mountains above the central California coast was disgusted by the incursion of suburbs into once remote countryside, along with the sprawl of cities. In “ Carmel Point ” he sighs,


The extraordinary patience of things!

This beautiful place defaced with a crop of suburban houses

 How beautiful when we first beheld it,

Unbroken field of poppy and lupine walled with clean cliffs;

 No intrusion but two or three horses pasturing,

Or a few milch cows rubbing their flanks on the outcrop rockheads—

 Now the spoiler has come: does it care?

Not faintly.[12]


In Part V of a longer poem, “ The Broken Balance ”, Jeffers mourns “ …the broken balance, the hopeless prostration of the/earth/Under men’s hands and their minds,/The beautiful places killed like rabbits to make a city/The spreading fungus, the slime-threads/And spores; my own coast’s obscene future… ”[13]

Duval’s “ spreading fungus ” was Paris. For example, in the dissonant closing lines of an otherwise nostalgic and pastoral poem, “ Lec’h Va C’havell” (“My Cradle’s Place ”), this most famous of French cities is metaphorized as an anthropophagic monster:


My cradle’s spot is my little kingdom

I was born one day

When the narcissus bloomed

I was born in the countryside

Born on a farm

On a property in my mother’s line

In Tregor in Brittany 

Born in the springtime

At the time of down-filled nests

In the shelter of ivy and moss

At the time of foals and new lambs

Gamboling in the pasture

 My pleasant green valley

Crossed by the black Leger

Bordered by the hills Runavin

Keravel Kerouel and Keriel.

in which echo so prettily

The tinkling bells of Tregrom’s tower…

And the heavy feet of the Black Horse

Crossing day and night

People from Brest to Paris

Paris-Sodom the voracious abyss

That only throws up its prey at the time of the potato beetle

To regorge its vomit each year at the

“ Rentrée ”[14]


It must be added here for readers not familiar with the history of Brittany that for many Bretons Paris represents the seat of centralized authority that has limited the region’s possibilities for economic self-regulation and cultural development; and has also been the destination for many generations of Breton émigrés seeking work, for want of opportunity in their native region. This siphoning off of the younger cohorts of Bretons over the years further contributed, historically, to the stagnation of the Breton economy and of Brittany’s distinctive cultural and linguistic heritage.

For Duval, it was cities, too, that sent out the hordes of tourists who, especially in the summertime, would overrun and disrupt her beautiful countryside, showing little or no respect for its inhabitants, human and nonhuman alike. Her poems “ Korriganed ” (“ Elves ”) and “ An Douristed ” (“ The Tourists ”) speak to this theme (portions of each poem follow):



A people of elves

A degenerate people

A genocidal people

Drowned in red wine

Drowned in French pom-pom

And in political slogans

A people resembling Elves

Playfully amusing themselves

In the abandoned heaths

Dancing among the megaliths

To the sound of the toads

To the mysterious music

Of the wind and the sea

The lament of the streams

The rustling of the woods [15]


The Tourists


They make me laugh

—when they don’t infuriate me—

They are seeking, they say, tranquility

To rest from the noise of the cities.

Yet I no longer hear throughout the day

My winged companions

Nor deep in his crevice

My friend the cricket

In each corner of the village: a clamor

The racket of stinking cars

The din of transistor radios [16]


Duval’s utter contempt for mindless tourists is transparent; yet she was not (unlike Jeffers most of the time) convinced of the baseness of humanity. Rather, as a devout Catholic, she believed in the possibility of redemption, and used her poetic voice, in part, to encourage, or, more often, to admonish others to pay attention to what was going on around them and to engage in more positive interaction with the environment, just as she attempted in many of her poems to rouse Bretons from their political apathy. Indeed, the two themes are almost inextricably intertwined, for she understood the “ dismantling of Brittany ” as an ecosystem to be, in large measure, the result of her compatriots’ submissive assimilation to French culture and language.

The ecosystem she sees disappearing and in favor of which she writes so passionately is one in which human beings are deeply embedded. Hers is not the vision of a primal wilderness, but of a caring and knowledgeable interaction between human and nonhuman on a beloved territory. That is, her ecological vision is of a small farmer living in harmony with the denizens of a humanized landscape. This is her ideal, but she sees it slipping away year by year as the young leave Brittany, especially its rural sectors, as outsiders settle in, and as construction of new roads and houses moves implacably forward. In a particularly stirring poem published in the most recent anthology of her work, Duval creates an unforgettable image of the destruction of one of the hallmarks of the Breton landscape—its bocages,[17] embankments covered with a thick growth of trees, shrubs, and vines that separate fields, that serve as habitat for dozens of animal species, and that may self-regenerate indefinitely.


The Bocage


—“ A shiver runs

Down my thorny back

Stiffening on my head

My hair of tangled brambles

My last hour has sounded

All over my miseries of this World

The earth shakes. The trees tremble

But what do I see? It isn’t Ankou! [18]

But a huge devil with claws

Coming to tear me apart, to behead me

The red Bulldozer with its giant step

To bury me in the ditch. ”

—“ Ah! may the steel of your claws be


With the pure blood of my roots;

Like the hand of an executioner

With the blood of a martyr!

While my soul will fly lightly

In the mantel of my dust:

A cloud carried by the breeze

High high above the hillside,

Toward… a Paradise:

Paradise of old bocages… [19]

This theme recurs in her poems, for she understands, as she says in one of them, that the bocages are important not only in Brittany, but serve as “ the framework of the Celtic Countries. ”[20]


Many adults alive today will remember the disastrous oil spill off the northwest coast of Brittany in 1978, when the tanker Amoco Cadiz disgorged its voluminous bellyful of oil into the Atlantic and from there to hundreds of kilometers of Breton coastline. Duval, who loved all creatures, was tormented by the death of so much marine life that soon followed in the wake of this tragic spill. In a hard-biting poetic indictment of the economic forces that led to the dependence on oil, she is not reluctant to blame human greed for this ecological disaster:


Petrol an Diaoul! [21]


I am greatly afraid

Of your Curse

Birds murdered

         Fish and shellfish suffocated

Seaweed and algae contaminated

With oil of the devil

The Devil of Money

Money of the rich

The rich of our century

The century of Fear

Fear of the Apocalypse


Birds and fish

Shellfish murdered

Beaches fouled

I am greatly afraid of the people

Those people responsible for this crime

Those people who have made

a “ god ” out of oil

Have made themselves

Subjects of oil

That oil runs

Everything in the house. Everything outside.


That oil brings

Light to the eye

And darkness to the Soul

Strength to the Economy

And weakness to courage

I’m afraid of those people

Needy and senseless

Merciless and wasteful


Pure and innocent birds

Blameless shellfish and fish

Plants and little creatures

Inhabitants of salt-water

I’m afraid of your curse

On your murderers

It will weigh on their conscience

The enormous weight of your remains [2]


Duval saw herself first and foremost as a farmer (or ‘peasant’ as she more often put it). She spent her life on the approximately 40-acre family farm that she inherited from her parents, and adhered to farming methods that had become obsolescent by the 1950s-60s, when Brittany’s agriculture modernized rapidly; in effect, it industrialized as elsewhere in Europe after WW II. She never owned a tractor, relying instead on her draft horse for the heavy work until late in her life, when a weakened heart prevented her from continuing with this level of physical activity. Yet agricultural toil was for her an almost sacred commitment, and she wrote some impassioned verse about the relationship of peasant to land. Perhaps the most searing of these is her “ Dibabet ‘m eus ” (“I Have Chosen ”) in which she proclaims as from a mountaintop that:


I have chosen to be a slave,         

A slave forever.

I was born to a race of slaves.

Those slaves are subject to no man,

Those slaves are all free people,

Those slaves are subjects of the land,

Slaves of their free will

Blissful slaves,

Slaves through Love

         Dignified Friends,

Proud Victims of our Earth:



Her relationship to the soil, to land, is thus religious in its intensity, even mystical. And it is entirely in harmony with her feelings about all of the plants and creatures who inhabit the land she lives on and works. This primal attachment to the land, though, is from the agriculturalist’s, not the hunter-gather’s perspective. As noted earlier, for Duval the sadness in changes that have taken place in rural Brittany stems not only from the countryside’s engulfment by highways, factories, and housing developments, but equally in the abandonment of traditional farmsteads, which has fundamentally altered the rural ecosystem as she knew it in her prime. In “ Gwelet em bo ”: (“I Will Have Seen ”) she describes the horrific changes that she has been witnessing in her life: “ The winding roads filled with brambles/ The meadows of cut grass/ Turned into mudholes…The twisting backroads/ So nicely shaded by willows and hazelnut trees/ Straightened and widened/ At the cost of farm work/ To make boulevards. ”[3]


In “ Buhezioù Tremenet ” (“ Lives Passed”) she paints a picture of what to her is the lamentable scene of an abandoned farm:


The old barn


A respectful pilgrim

In the portal of a sanctuary

I stopped to look

At the scene, astonished.

All around, on every peg

Harnesses hanging

Dust-covered equipment, cobwebby

Trappings of horses

The well

The iron and wood bucket is rusty

The chain of the winch is red

Moss is growing on the step

And tall grass between the stones

Green with moss

Are its five cornerstones.

Modest ivy hides

The dislodged stone at the well-top

In which a sparrow nests.[4]


Duval, farmer-above-all-else, finds this a scene of tragic dimensions; and in spite of her love of nature, she can take no comfort here in the reversion of a once flourishing farm to tall grass, moss, and ivy. Needless to say, environmentalists of some other stripe might delight in this same scene of land reverting to a more primitive or natural state. But for Duval, the natural and the social are inextricably interconnected: the decline of one means the decline of the other, and she is clear in her own thinking that the destruction of Brittany’s traditional landscapes goes in tandem with Bretons’ assimilation to Parisian-dominated French culture and thinking, and the loss of the Breton language. She addresses this last issue in a goodly number of her poems; the one which I offer here, “ Sotoni ar Vretoned ” (“ Foolishness of the Bretons ”) is particularly germane, since it admits of no human-animal duality, situating human beings squarely in the ranks of other animal species who are responsible for teaching their young:


The mare teaches her foal the language of its race

And it whinnies just as its mother whinnies

The cow teaches her calf to low

And it lows as its race does

The lamb bleats as its mother does.

The little rooster sings like his father

When he comes of age.

The puppy barks like its race does

The kitten meows like its mother.

Little magpies chatter

Like their magpie relatives. This is right.

Brittany’s babies say: Oui m’man!

When their mothers said to their own mothers:

         Ya, mammig!

Whose fault is it?


Although Duval considered her role as a farmer—or as a “ peasant ” as she was more apt to say—the preeminent one in her life, she did not devote a great deal of verse-making to themes about farming or agriculture. However, those that she did offer on this subject might call to the North American reader’s mind Wendell Berry, the famous farmer-poet of the U.S. state of Kentucky. Like Duval, Berry has a profound commitment to a particular place—a rural place—and he views the farming of his place as not only a noble occupation, but one that can help to heal an earth damaged by other human activity. His “ Enriching the Earth ” speaks in the first person, asserting his agency in fertilizing the soil: “ To enrich the earth I have sowed clover and grass/to grow and die. I have plowed in the seeds/of winter gains and of various legumes,/their growth to be plowed in to enrich the earth. ” [5] Duval’s “ Va Barzhonegou ” (“ My Poems ”) similarly engages the theme of the farmer’s, and farm animals’, part in recycling of natural materials and their transformation into new forms of life. This poem also is an extended metaphor about her poetry-writing; only the final verse is given here:


I don’t write verses of twelve feet

In counting on my fingers

but of twelve-by-twenty paces…  and more.

My verses are written swath by swath

With the sharp steel of my scythe

         on the yellow hair of my country

The sun turns them into fragrant poems

That my cows scatter for me during  winter nights. [6]


Berry, like Duval, saw himself as serving the earth, by working in synchrony and harmony with its natural cycles.   Enriching the Earth ” continues:

“ I have stirred into the ground offal/and the decay of the growth of past seasons/and so mended the earth and made its yield increase… And yet to serve the earth,/not knowing what I serve, gives a wideness/and a delight to the air, and my days/do not wholly pass. ”

Duval’s sense of service to the earth recurs in several poems, but her poetic voice speaks for the whole “ class ” of peasants, as in Dibabet ‘m eus above; and as in “ Bennozh Dit ! ” (“ Thank you! ”), in which she offers thanks to “ od the Creator ” for making her a farmer: “ You have given me the Happiness/To work in your company./You give the Earth, the rain and the heat./I fertilize, sow, weed, harvest./And is there in this World/A nobler profession? ”[7]

Intersecting Duval’s depiction of peasant life as useful, noble, and sometimes idyllic is the conflicting theme of the disdain and ridicule that peasants have had to suffer from city-dwellers. Here, again reminiscent of Jeffers, Duval is quite capable of unleashing her wrath at contemptible urbanites, as in this angry fragment from “ Hanternoz 1/4 ”, (“Midnight 1/4”) in which Duval recounts the back-breaking work of peasants, whose labor is rewarded only by reproaches for the high cost of bread, milk, meat, and eggs. The poem closes with what might be called a glossophobic assault on French, which for Duval represents all that is wrong with modern civilization and the marginalization and exploitation of traditional rural cultures:


For anger is not

         Weighed in francs

Nor measured in rods

But in the number of years of oppression

In the number of years of mockery

In the number of ugly names

         Stuck on the back of the peasant

By men with white hands

And women with red fingernails

And red lips

From which flow that civilized language

         That arrogant language!

That language of pomp and festivals.

That language that

         Like the poor when they get rich:

         Goes to the devil.

The language in its turn gets


After having ravaged

The honorable languages of the Celts

I feel hatred toward that language

To the point that it pains me to call it

         By its name

Putrid French!

Putrid with pride…[8]


The final observations I wish to make on Duval as environmental poet concerns her deep sense of connectedness with everything on earth (except, arguably, city-dwellers!); in this she manifests not only an environmental consciousness, but what has come to be called a deep ecological sensibility. The hallmarks of the deep ecology movement within today’s environmentalism is its insistence on a non-anthropocentric vision of the cosmos, and a respect for all creatures, no matter how small, as well as for rocks, mountains, rivers, and the innumerable other inanimate components of the universe.[9] It might be said that Duval was something of a deep ecologist before the name, for such perspectives are evident in a number of her poems. “ Perak? ” (“ Why? ”) illustrates well this sensibility, showing her empathy with tiny creatures not generally noticed by human beings (and especially not by her favorite protagonist—the city dweller):




They are heedless

Those who walk on city pavements.

Heedless of killing and injuring

Small creatures moving or not…

Ah! How heedful I am at each step

Heedful of crushing, of smashing

Along the path or through the field

Tiny humble creatures beneath my foot:

The green beetle crouched in the moss,

The minute ant carrying

Wit great effort and ingenuity

The short-straw to her anthill.

Pretty little flowers half-hidden in the grass,

Turning to open their heart of the Sun.

It seems to me that I hear their lament:

—Why then, Lord, did you not give

Wings to Man?

Ah! How heavy is the weight of his foot on us![10]



A poet whose creative work was expressed in what sociolinguists and policymakers nowadays call a “ lesser-used language, ” Duval is not as widely known outside of her home territory as she deserves to be. Translations of her poetry into English and French have helped disseminate it to a larger public, but, as noted at the beginning, she has garnered more attention for her militant and patriotic poems—which are numerous and quite remarkable in their own right—than for those dealing with nature and environment. I hope in this essay to have demonstrated that Duval’s eco-environmental concerns and perspectives that motivated a significant number of her poems entitle her to recognition as an environmental poet, a kindred spirit to several better known English-language poets with whom I have drawn some comparisons along the way. Far from being a “ passéiste, ” [11] in spirit and outlook (even if her lifestyle was old-fashioned), I believe Duval was in the avant-garde, unknowingly perhaps, of the greening of the humanities in the West that has taken place in the final decades of the 20th century.



A poet whose creative work was expressed in what sociolinguists and policymakers nowadays call a “ lesser-used language, ” Duval is not as widely known outside of her home territory as she deserves to be. Translations of her poetry into English and French have helped disseminate it to a larger public, but, as noted at the beginning, she has garnered more attention for her militant and patriotic poems—which are numerous and quite remarkable in their own right—than for those dealing with nature and environment. I hope in this essay to have demonstrated that Duval’s eco-environmental concerns and perspectives that motivated a significant number of her poems entitle her to recognition as an environmental poet, a kindred spirit to several better known English-language poets with whom I have drawn some comparisons along the way. Far from being a “ passéiste, ” [11] in spirit and outlook (even if her lifestyle was old-fashioned), I believe Duval was in the avant-garde, unknowingly perhaps, of the greening of the humanities in the West that has taken place in the final decades of the 20th century.


* (Department of Linguistics, University of California, Davis)



[1] Lawrence Buell, The Environmental Imagination. Thoreau, Nature Writing and the Formation of American Culture (Cambridge, Mass. : Belknap/Harvard University Press), pp. 7-8.

[2] Buell’s work is but one of a large and growing number of such studies of environmentally oriented writing. However, l do not wish to imply that there was no environmental writing in earlier decades and centuries-Buell demonstrates that there was. Still, interest in ecological and environmental themes in the humanities has accelerated in the past 30 years; and, as noted in the text, a distinctive scholarly specialization in environmental literature has emerged, evident in such anthologies as Being in the World: An Environmental Reader for Writers, ed. Scott H. Slovic & Terrell F. Dixon (New York: Macmillan, 1993); in Praise of Nature, ed. Stephanie Mills (Washington, DC: Island Press, 1990); and in the monumental Encompassing Nature: A Sourcebook. Nature and Culture from Ancient Times to the Modem World, ed. Robert M. Torrance (Washington, DC: Counterpoint, 1998).

[3] Ronan Le Coadic so characterizes her in his essay about her life in Anjela Duval: Stourm a ran war bep tachenn [Anjela Duval: I do Battle on Every Front] (Sant-Brieg: Mignoned Anjela, 1998), p. 152.

[4] Lenora A. Timm, A Modem Breton Political Poet: Anjela Duval (Lewiston, New York: Edwin Mellen Press, 1990).

[5] This is the collection cited in note 3. Le Coadic and others have done a great service in finding and compiling a hundred additional poems; a number had been published years ago in now hard-to-find Breton literary journals; but many had not been published and were selected from archival materials that had been gathered on Duval after her death.

[6] There are of course many other fine poets who delve into this territory poetically, but these happen to be three whom I enjoy reading and whose poetry strikes me as sometimes closely related in theme and style to Duval’s environmental poetry.

[7] John Elder, Imagining the Earth. Poetry and the Vision of Nature (Athens: University of Georgia Press), p. 219.

[8] Anjela Duval, Kan an Douar (Brest: Al Liamm, 1982), p. 77. Translated in L. Timm, op. cit., p. 188. This and all other translations of Duval’s poems into English are my own.

[9] Anjela Duval, Kan an Douar (Brest: Al Liamm, 1982), p. 107. Translated in L.Timm, op.cit., p. 160.

[10] From “ Santad Bugel ” (‘A Child’s Feeling’) in Anjela Duval, Traoñ an Dour (Brest : Al Liamm, 1982), p. 68. Translated in L. Timm, op. cit., p. 62.

[11] Anjela Duval, Kan an Douar (Brest: Al Liamm, 1982), p. 122. Translated in L. Timm, op. cit., p. 168. The tree names are arguably “ more magical ” in Breton: Derv-gwenn. Koad-kren/Skav-gwrac’h. Fav-put/Evor. Aozilh. Bezv Gwenn.

[12] Robinson Jeffers, Selected Poems,

  1. 102. © 1963, 1965 by Donnan Jeffers and Garth Jeffers (New York: Random House).

[13] Robinson Jeffers, The Selected Poetry of Robinson Jeffers, p. 260. © 1938 by Robinson Jeffers (New York: Random House).

[14] Anjela Duval, Stourm a ran war bep tachenn (Sant-Brieg: Mignoned Anjela, 1998), p. 129.

[15] Anjela Duval, Traoñ an Dour (Brest: Al Liamm, 1982), p. 114. Translated in L. Timm, op. cit., p. 238. The French word, “ Rentrée, ” at the poem’s end refers to the return each September 1st of summer vacationers to Paris (and other cities).

[16] Anjela Duval, Kan an Douar (Brest: Al Liamm, 1982), p. 113. Translated in L.Timm, op.cit., p. 252.

[17] The term is French, and is found in more comprehensive English dictionaries; there is no suitable English equivalent, though “ hedge ” is sometimes used as a less than fully adequate translation.

[18] Ankou is the traditional Breton symbol of (impending) death, typically personified as a skeleton carrying a scythe and travelling in a creaky, horse-drawn cart.

[19] Anjela Duval, Stourm a ran war bep tachenn (Sant-Brieg: Mignoned Anjela, 1998), p. 15.

[20] This line is in her poem “ Dismantroù Breizh ” (“ The Dismantling of Brittany ”) in Traoñ an Dour (Brest: Al Liamm, 1982), pp. 117-118. Translated in L.Timm, op.cit., p.250.

[21] The title is a pun that cannot be translated into English, though it may be explained: the Breton expression “ petra an diaoul ” means “ What the devil! ” (petra =“ what ”); the word for “oil” is petrol, which is close enough phonologically to lend itself to the pun.

[22] Anjela Duval, Stourm a ran war bep tachenn (Sant-Brieg: Mignoned Anjela, 1998), pp. 84-85.

[23] Anjela Duval, Stourm a ran war bep tachenn (Sant-Brieg: Mignoned Anjela, 1998), p. 136.

[24] Anjela Duval, Kan an Douar (Brest: Al Liamm, 1982), pp. 105-106. Translated in L. Timm, op. cit., p. 240.

[25] Wendell Berry, Collected Poems 1957-1982, p. 110. ©1984 by Wendell Barry (New York: North Point Press).

[26] Anjela Duval, Kan an Douar (Brest: Al Liamm, 1982), p. 101. Translated in L. Timm, op. cit., p. 134.

[27] Anjela Duval, Kan an Douar (Brest: Al Liamm, 1982), p. 130. Translated in L.Timm, op. cit., p. 204.

[28] Anjela Duval, Stourm a ran war bep tachenn (Sant-Brieg: Mignoned Anjela, 1998), p. 61.

[29] See, for example, Arne Naess, Ecology, Community and Lifestyle: Outline of an Ecosophy (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1976); Bill Devall & George Sessions, Deep Ecology: Living as if Nature Mattered (Salt Lake City: Peregrine Smith, 1985); Warwick Fox, Towards a Transpersonal ecology: Developing New Foundations for Environmentalism (Boston: Shambhala, 1990); Gary Snyder, The Practice of the Wild (New York: North Point Press, 1990).

[30] Anjela Duval, Kan an Douar (Brest: Al Liamm, 1982), p. 175. Translated in L.Timm, op. cit., p. 196.

[31] Janina Cunnen and Hildegard Tristram suggest this in a recent essay comparing Duval with German poet Sarah Kirsch. See their article “ Anjela Duval et Sarah Kirsch : Désir du cœur et pour la terre, ” in Breizh ha Pobloù Europa/Bretagne et Peuples d’Europe, ed. Herve ar Bihan (Rennes: Presses Universitaires de Rennes, 1999), p. 114.


Print Friendly, PDF & Email