Salvador text Andre Breton Man Ray

Surrealism-Plays is a site devoted to the history and creative works of the Surrealist Movement, as well as the anti-tradition of avant-garde theatre.


SURREALIST POETRY



Twelve Surrealist Poems

by Federico García Lorca, André Breton, Antonin Artaud,
Robert Desnos, Benjamin Péret, Paul Eluard, Tristan Tzara,
Pierre Unik and David Gascoyne.



Federico García Lorca

Dawn

Dawn in New York has
four columns of mire
and a hurricane of black pigeons
splashing in the putrid waters.

Dawn in New York groans
on enormous fire escapes
searching between the angles
for spikenards of drafted anguish.

Dawn arrives and no one receives it in his mouth
because morning and hope are impossible there:
sometimes the furious swarming coins
penetrate like drills and devour abandoned children.

Those who go out early know in their bones
there will be no paradise or loves that bloom and die:
they know they will be mired in numbers and laws,
in mindless games, in fruitless labors.

The light is buried under chains and noises
in the impudent challenge of rootless science.
And crowds stagger sleeplessly through the boroughs
as if they had just escaped a shipwreck of blood.

Poet in New York 1929-1930
Translated by Greg Simon & Steven F. White


Sleepless City

Out in the sky, no one sleeps. No one, no one.
No one sleeps.
The creatures of the moon sniff and prowl about their cabins.
The living iguanas will come and bite the men who do not dream,
and the brokenhearted fugitive will meet on street corners
an unbelievable alligator resting beneath the tender protest of the stars.

Out in the sky, no one sleeps. No one, no one.
No one sleeps.
In a graveyard far off there is a corpse
who has moaned for three years
because of an arid landscape in his knee;
and that boy they buried this morning cried so much
it was necessary to call out the dogs to keep him quiet.

Life is not a dream. Careful!  Careful!  Careful!
We fall down the stairs in order to eat the moist earth
or we climb to the snow's edge with the voices of dead dahlias.
But there is no oblivion; no dream:
only flesh exists. Kisses tie our mouths
in a tangle of new veins,
and those who hurt will hurt without rest
and those who are afraid of death will carry it on their shoulders.

One day
horses will live in the saloons
and the enraged ants
will throw themselves on the yellow skies that take refuge in the eyes of cows.

Another day
we will watch the dried butterflies rise from the dead
and still walking through a landscape of gray sponges and silent ships
we will watch our ring flash while roses spill from our tongues.

Careful!  Be careful!  Be careful!
Those still marked by claws and thunderstorms,
and that boy who cries because he has never heard of the invention of bridges,
or that corpse who possesses now only his head and a shoe,
we must carry them to the wall where the iguanas and the snakes are waiting,
where the bear's teeth are waiting,
where the mummified hand of the boy is waiting,
and the fur of the camel stands on end with a violent blue chill.

Out in the sky, no one sleeps. No one, no one.
No one sleeps.
But if someone does close his eyes,
whip him, my children, whip him!
Let there be a landscape of open eyes
and bitter wounds on fire.
Out in the sky, no one sleeps.  No one, no one.
I have said it before.
No one is sleeping.
But if someone grows too much moss on his temples during the night,
open the stage trapdoors so he can see in the moonlight
the fake goblets, the poison, and the skull of the theaters.

Poet in New York 1929-1930
Translated by Greg Simon & Steven F. White


André Breton

Free Union

My wife with the hair of a wood fire
With the thoughts of heat lightning
With the waist of an hourglass
With the waist of an otter in the teeth of a tiger
My wife with her rosette mouth and a bouquet of stars of the last magnitude
With the teeth of tracks of white mice on the white earth
With the tongue of rubbed amber and glass
My wife with the tongue of a stabbed host
With the tongue of a doll that opens and closes its eyes
With the tongue of an unbelievable stone
My wife with her eyelashes in the strokes of a child's writing
With eyebrows from the edge of a swallow's nest
My wife with brows of slates on a hothouse roof
And with steam on the windowpanes
My wife with shoulders of champagne
And of a fountain with dolphin heads beneath the ice
My wife with wrists of matches
My wife with fingers of luck and the ace of hearts
With fingers of mown hay
My wife with armpits of marten and of beechnut
And of Midsummer Night
Of privet and of an angelfish nest
With arms of seafoam and of riverlocks
And of a mingling of the wheat and the mill
My wife with legs of flares
With the movements of clockwork and despair
My wife with calves of eldertree pith
My wife with feet of initials
With feet of rings of keys and Java sparrows drinking
My wife with a neck of unpearled barley
My wife with a throat of the valley of gold
Of a tryst in the very bed of the torrent
With breasts of night
My wife with her undersea molehill breasts 
My wife with breasts of the ruby's crucible
With breasts of the spectre of the rose beneath the dew
My wife with the belly of an unfolding of the fan of days
With the belly of a gigantic claw
My wife with the back of a bird fleeing vertically
With a back of quicksilver
With a back of light
With a nape of rolled stone and wet chalk
And of the drop of a glass where one has just been drinking
My wife with hips of a skiff
With hips of a chandelier and of arrow-feathers
And of shafts of white peacock plumes
Of an insensible pendulum
My wife with buttocks of sandstone and asbestos
My wife with buttocks of swans' backs
My wife with buttocks of spring
With the sex of an iris
My wife with the sex of placer and platypus
My wife with a sex of seaweed and ancient sweetmeat
My wife with a sex of mirror
My wife with eyes full of tears
With eyes of purple panoply and of a magnetic needle
My wife with savanna eyes
My wife with eyes of water to be drunk in prison
My wife with eyes of wood always under the axe
My wife with eyes of water-level air-level earth and fire

1931


Antonin Artaud

Dark Poet

Dark Poet, a maid's breast
Haunts you,
Embittered poet, life seethes
And life burns,
And the sky reabsorbs itself in rain,
Your pen scratches at the heart of life.

Forest, forest, alive with your eyes,
On multiple pinions;
With storm-bound hair,
The poets mount horses, dogs.

Eyes fume, tongues stir,
The heavens surge into our senses
Like blue mother's milk;
Women, harsh vinegar hearts,
I hang suspended from your mouths.

Umbilical Limbo 1926
Translated by Victor Corti



Robert Desnos

I've Dreamed of You So Much

I've dreamed of you so much that you're losing your reality.
Is it already too late for me to embrace your living and breathing body
and to kiss that mouth which is the birthplace of that voice so dear to me?
I've dreamed of you so much that my arms, grown accustomed to lying crossed upon my own chest in a desperate attempt to encircle your shadow, might not be able to unfold again to embrace the contours of your body.
And coming face-to-face with the actual incarnation of what has haunted me and ruled me and dominated my life for so many days and years
might very well turn me into a shadow.
Oh equilibriums of the emotional scales!
I've dreamed of you so much that it might be too late for me to ever wake up again.
I sleep on my feet, body confronting all the usual phenomena of life and love, and yet when it comes to you,
the only being on the planet who matters to me now,
I can no more touch your face and lips than I can those of the next random passerby.
I've dreamed of you so much, have walked and talked and slept so much with your phantom presence that perhaps the only thing left for me to do now
is to become a phantom among phantoms, a shadow a hundred times more shadowy
than that shadow which moves and will go on moving,
stepping lightly and joyfully across the sundial of your life.

A la mystérieuse 1926


Sleep Spaces

In the night there are of course the seven wonders of the world
and greatness, tragedy and enchantment.
Forests collide with legendary creatures hiding in thickets.
There is you.
In the night there are the walker's footsteps the murderer's the town policeman's light from the street lamp and the ragman's lantern.
There is you.
In the night trains go past and boats
and the fantasy of countries where it's daytime. The last breaths of twilight and the first shivers of dawn.
There is you.
A piano tune, a shout.
A door slams. A clock.
And not only beings and things and physical sounds.
But also me chasing myself or endlessly going beyond me.
There is you the sacrifice, you that I'm waiting for.
Sometimes at the moment of sleep strange figures are born and disappear.
When I shut my eyes phosphorescent blooms appear and fade
and come to life again like fireworks made of flesh.
I pass through strange lands with creatures for company.
No doubt you are there, my beautiful discreet spy.
And the palpable soul of the vast reaches.
And perfumes of the sky and the stars, the song of a rooster from 2000 years ago and piercing screams in a flaming park and kisses.
Sinister handshakes in a sickly light and axles grinding on paralyzing roads.
No doubt there is you who I do not know, who on the contrary I do know.
But who, here in my dreams, demands to be felt without ever appearing.
You who remain out of reach in reality and in dream.
You who belong to me through my will to possess your illusion
but who brings your face near mine only if my eyes are closed in dream as well as in reality.
You who in spite of an easy rhetoric where the waves die on the beach
where crows fly into ruined factories, where the wood rots
crackling under a lead sun.
You who are at the depths of my dreams stirring up a mind
full of metamorphoses
leaving me your glove when I kiss your hand.
In the night there are stars and the shadowy motion of the sea,
of rivers, forests, towns, grass and the lungs
of millions and millions of beings.
In the night there are the seven wonders of the world.
In the night there are no guardian angels, but there is sleep.
In the night there is you.
In the daylight too.

A la mystérieuse 1926



Benjamin Péret

Wink

Parakeets fly through my head when I see you in profile
and the greasy sky streaks with blue flashes
tracing your name in all directions
Rosa coiffed with a black tribe standing in rows on the stairs
where women's piercing breasts point out through men's eyes
Today I look out through your hair
Rosa of morning opal
and I wake through your site
Rosa of armour
I think through your exploding breasts
Rosa of a pool the frogs turn green
and I sleep in your navel of Caspian sea
Rosa of honeysuckle in the general strike
and I'm lost in your milky way shoulders impregnated by comets
Rosa of jasmine in the night of washing
Rosa of haunted house
Rosa of black forest filled with blue and green postage stamps
Rosa of kite over a vacant lot where children are fighting
Rosa of cigar smoke
Rosa of seafoam turned into crystal
Rosa

Je Sublime 1936
Translated by Keith Hollaman



Paul Eluard

Max Ernst

In a corner agile incest
Circles the virginity of a little dress.
In a corner the sky turned over
To the spines of the storm leaves white balls behind.

In the brightest corner of every eye
We're expecting the fish of anguish.
In a corner the car of summer
Immobile glorious and forever.

In the light of youth
Lamps lit very late.
The first one shows its breasts that red insects are killing.

Captial of Pain 1926
Translated by Mary Ann Caws & Patricia Terry


The Absence


I speak to you across cities
I speak to you across plains

My mouth is upon your pillow

Both faces of the walls come meeting
My voice discovering you

I speak to you of eternity

O cities memories of cities
Cities wrapped in our desires
Cities come early cities come lately
Cities strong and cities secret
Plundered of their master's builders
All their thinkers all their ghosts

Fields pattern of emerald
Bright living surviving
The harvest of the sky over our earth
Feeds my voice I dream and weep
I laugh and dream among the flames
Among the clusters of the sun

And over my body your body spreads
The sheet of it's bright mirror.

1942



Tristan Tzara

Volt

The inclined towers the oblique skies
The cars descending into the void of roads
The creatures along the country lanes
Branches covered with hospitable virtues
With leaf-shaped birds at their crowns
You walk but another walks in your footsteps
Distilling her spite through fragments of memory and math
Enveloped by a robe almost mute the clotted sound of capitals

The seething city dense both with proud cries and lights
Overflows the saucepan of its eyelids
Tears flow away in streams of wretched population
Over the sterile plain towards the smooth flesh the lava
Of shadowy mountains the apocalyptic temptations
Lost in the landscape of a memory and a darkened rose
I roam the narrow streets around you
While you too roam different wider streets
Round something other

1924-25


Pierre Unik

The Manless Society

Morning trickles over the bruised vegetables
like a drop of sweat over the lines of my hand
I crawl over the ground
with stem and wrinkled mouth
the sun swells into the canals of monstrous leaves
which recover cemeteries harbours houses
with the same sticky green zeal
then with disturbing intensity there passes through my mind
the absurdity of human groupings
in these lines of closely packed houses
like the pores of the skin
in the poignant void of terrestrial space
I hear the crying of birds of whom it used to be said
that they sang and implacable resembled stones
I see flocks of houses munching the pith of the air
factories which sing as birds once sang
roads which lose themselves in harvests of salt
pieces of sky which become dry on verdigris moss
a pulley's creaking tells us that a bucket rises in a well
it is full of limpid blood
which evaporates in the sun
nothing else will trouble this circuit on the ground
until evening
which trembles under the form of an immense pinned butterfly
at the entrance of a motionless station.

Date Unknown


David Gascoyne

Salvador Dalí

The face of the precipice is black with lovers;
The sun above them is a bag of nails; the spring's
First rivers hide among their hair.
Goliath plunges his hand into the poisoned well
And bows his head and feels my feet walk through his brain.
The children chasing butterflies turn round and see him there
With his hand in the well and my body growing from his head,
And are afraid. They drop their nets and walk into the wall like smoke.

The smooth plain with its mirrors listens to the cliff
Like a basilisk eating flowers.
And the children, lost in the shadows of the catacombs,
Call to the mirrors for help:
'Strong-bow of salt, cutlass of memory,
Write on my map the name of every river.'

A flock of banners fight their way through the telescoped forest
And fly away like birds towards the sound of roasting meat.
Sand falls into the boiling rivers through the telescopes' mouths
And forms clear drops of acid with petals of whirling flame.
Heraldic animals wade through the asphyxia of planets,
Butterflies burst from their skins and grow long tongues like plants,
The plants play games with a suit of mail like a cloud.

Mirrors write Goliath's name upon my forehead,
While the children are killed in the smoke of the catacombs
And lovers float down from the cliffs like rain.

1936


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