All entries for Wednesday 05 May 2010

May 05, 2010

‘ “Poetry Ought to Have a Practical Purpose” ’, a poem by Paul Eluard.

Portrait of Paul Eluard by Salvador Dali

For My Exacting Friends


If I tell you that the sun in the woods
Is like a belly carried away in a bed
You believe me you approve of my desires

If I tell you that the crystal of rainy days
Echoes forever in the laziness of love’s ecstasies
You believe me you draw out the duration of your loving

If I tell you that in the branches of my bed
A bird is nesting that never says yes
You believe me you share my distress

If I tell you that at the bottom of some stream
A river’s key turns like an overture to verdure
You believe me still more you can follow

But if I sing to you of my whole long highway with no detours
And my enormous countryside like a footpath unending
You give up on me you depart for the wilds

For you only wander aimlessly without recognizing that men
Have the need to hope and struggle
To explain the world and to change it

With one step of my heart I shall lead you
I’ve lived without power for a long time it’s the way I live now
But I’m amazed to hear you say that I speak to you just to delight you
When I would free you to unite you
As much as with algae and the reeds of the dawn
As with our other brothers creating their own daylight

--
Translated by Michael Benedikt

Taken from The Poetry of Surrealism: An Anthology, ed. Michael Benedikt (Boston & Toronto: Little, Brown and Co., 1974).

-

Paul Eluard (1895 – 1952)
Key interests: purity, spontaneity, intensity, the isolation of man, the irrational, things defined by the mind that sees them, the ability to transmute everything into everything else, paradox, the telescoping of images.


‘ “I’ll Reinvent the Rose for You”’, a poem by Louis Aragon.

Writing about web page http://www.marxists.org/archive/aragon/index.htm


I’ll reinvent the rose for you
For you are that rose which cannot be described
These few words at least in the order proper to her ritual
That rose which only words distant from roses can describe
The way it is with the ecstatic cry and the terrible sadness which it translates
From the stars of pleaure above love’s deep abyss

I will reinvent for youth rose of adoring fingers
Which create a nave as they interlace but whose petals then suddenly fall away
I will reinvent for you the rose beneath the balconies
Of lovers whose only beds are their arms

The rose at the heart of sculpted stone figures dead without benefit of confession
The rose of a peasant blown to bits by a landmine in his field
The scarlet scent of a letter that has been “discovered”
In which nothing’s addressed to me neither the insult nor the compliment

Some rendezvous to which no one has come

An entire army in flight on a very windy day

A maternal footstep before prison-gates

A man’s song at siesta-time beneath the olive trees

A cock-fight in a mist-enshrouded countryside
The rose of a soldier cut off from his own home country

I’ll reinvent for you my rose as many roses
As there are diamonds in the waters of the seas
As there are past centuries adrift in the dust of the earth’s atmosphere
As there are dreams in just one childish head

As there can be reflections in one tear

--

Translated by Michael Benedikt

Taken from The Poetry of Surrealism: An Anthology, ed. Michael Benedikt (Boston & Toronto: Little, Brown and Co., 1974).

--

Louis Aragon (1897-1982)
Key interests: poetry of the real, the mystery of the everyday, simplicity, intellectual cruelty, poetry as a slap, the poetic shiver, collage, newspaper posters, black and white cinema, automatic crystallizations, remaking clichés, flat language, artistic distance from one’s audience, love and despair towards language, nominalism (no thought beyond words), verbal incapacity, contradictions, madness, the inexpressible.


A Poem, 'Free Union', by André Breton.


My wife whose hair is a brush fire
Whose thoughts are summer lightning
Whose waist is an hourglass
Whose waist is the waist of an otter caught in the teeth of a tiger
Whose mouth is a bright cockade with the fragrance of a star of the first magnitude
Whose teeth leave prints like the tracks of white mice over snow
Whose tongue is made out of amber and polished glass
Whose tongue is a stabbed wafer
The tongue of a doll with eyes that open and shut
Whose tongue is an incredible stone
My wife whose eyelashes are strokes in the handwriting of a child
Whose eyebrows are nests of swallows
My wife whose temples are the slate of greenhouse roofs
With steam on the windows
My wife whose shoulders are champagne
Are fountains that curl from the heads of dolphins over the ice
My wife whose wrists are matches
Whose fingers are raffles holding the ace of hearts
Whose fingers are fresh cut hay
My wife with the armpits of martens and beech fruit
And Midsummer Night
That are hedges of privet and resting places for sea snails
Whose arms are of sea foam and a landlocked sea
And a fusion of wheat and a mill
Whose legs are spindles
In the delicate movements of watches and despair
My wife whose calves are sweet with the sap of elders
Whose feet are carved initials
Keyrings and the feet of steeplejacks
My wife whose neck is fine milled barley
Whose throat contains the Valley of God
And encounters in the bed of the maelstrom
My wife whose breasts are of night

And are undersea molehills
And crucibles of rubies
My wife whose breasts are haunted by the ghosts of dew-moistened roses
Whose belly is a fan unfolded in the sunlight
Is a giant talon
My wife with the back of a bird in vertical flight
With a back of quicksilver
And bright lights
My wife whose nape is of smooth worn stone and white chalk
And of a glass slipped through the fingers of someone who has just drunk
My wife with the thighs of a skiff
That are lustrous and feathered like arrows
Stemmed with the light tailbones of a white peacock
And imperceptible balance
My wife whose rump is sandstone and flax
Whose rump is the back of a swan and the spring
My wife with the sex of an iris
A mine and a platypus
With the sex of an alga and old-fashioned candles
My wife with the sex of a mirror
My wife with eyes full of tears
With eyes that are purple armour and a magnetized needle
With eyes of savannahs
With eyes full of water to drink in prisons
My wife with eyes that are forests forever under the axe
My wife with eyes that are the equal of water and air and earth and fire

-

Translated by David Antin

Taken from The Poetry of Surrealism: An Anthology, ed. Michael Benedikt (Boston & Toronto: Little, Brown and Co., 1974).

--

Andre Breton (1896-1966)
Key interests: Openness to chance events, surprise for its own sake, the attitude of a child, presence and immediacy, a return to the full significance of language, poetry as electricity, word games, puns, anagrams, aphorisms, the play of images, shock, against logic, constantly destructive, lacking in unity.


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