The Word as Archipelago is the first complete translation into English of La Parole en archipel, an important book that René Char published in 1962, and a book whose title is an apt figure for the whole body of poetry that Char wrote over a period of fifty years. The author of this book is a lover, a visionary of the natural world, an elegist, a phenomenologist of encounter, a mystic of the night, a spirit of defiant freedom who in the Second World War had been a leader in the French Resistance. The book includes work in the different forms Char fluently moves among—the verse poem, the prose poem, and the aphoristic sequence—and displays his characteristic stylistic gifts: vivid concreteness, speculative incisiveness, archipelago-like scope. The word is an island belonging to a unity always partially hidden. Robert Baker’s resonant translation brings into English this language of intuitive crossings. A poet of pessimism and hope at once, perhaps the greatest French practitioner of the prose poem since Rimbaud, Char writes a beautifully open poetry of his avventura amorosa with life itself.