Andre Breton |
There are many cumbersome ways to kill a man.
You can make him carry a plank of wood
to the top of a hill and nail him to it.
To do this
properly you require a crowd of people
wearing sandals, a cock that crows, a cloak
to dissect, a sponge, some vinegar and one
man to hammer the nails home.
Or you can take a length of steel,
shaped and chased in a traditional way,
and attempt to pierce the metal cage he wears.
But for this you need white horses,
English trees, men with bows and arrows,
at least two flags, a prince, and a
castle to hold your banquet in.
Dispensing with nobility, you may, if the wind
allows, blow gas at him.
But then you need
a mile of mud sliced through with ditches,
not to mention black boots, bomb craters,
more mud, a plague of rats, a dozen songs
and some round hats made of steel.
In an age of aeroplanes, you may fly
miles above your victim and dispose of him by
pressing one small switch.
All you then
require is an ocean to separate you, two
systems of government, a nation's scientists,
several factories, a psychopath and
land that no-one needs for several years.
These are, as I began, cumbersome ways
to kill a man.
Simpler, direct, and much more neat
is to see that he is living somewhere in the middle
of the twentieth century, and leave him there.
Andre Breton |
(Translated from the French by Edouard Rodti)
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 the lips of a cockade and of a bunch 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 the eyelashes of strokes of a child's writing
With brows of the edge of a swallow's nest
My wife with the brow of slates of a hothouse roof
And of steam on the panes
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 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 breasts of a marine molehill
My wife with breasts of the ruby's crucible
With breasts of the rose's spectre 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 a mining-placer and of a 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 he drunk in prison
My wife with eyes of wood always under the axe
My wife with eyes of water-level of level of air earth and fire
Andre Breton |
Less time than it takes to say it, less tears than it takes to die; I've taken account of everything,
there you have it.
I've made a census of the stones, they are as numerous as my fingers and some
others; I've distributed some pamphlets to the plants, but not all were willing to accept them.
kept company with music for a second only and now I no longer know what to think of suicide, for
if I ever want to part from myself, the exit is on this side and, I add mischievously, the entrance, the
re-entrance is on the other.
You see what you still have to do.
Hours, grief, I don't keep a
reasonable account of them; I'm alone, I look out of the window; there is no passerby, or rather no
one passes (underline passes).
You don't know this man? It's Mr.
May I introduce Madam
Madam? And their children.
Then I turn back on my steps, my steps turn back too, but I don't
know exactly what they turn back on.
I consult a schedule; the names of the towns have been
replaced by the names of people who have been quite close to me.
Shall I go to A, return to B,
change at X? Yes, of course I'll change at X.
Provided I don't miss the connection with boredom!
There we are: boredom, beautiful parallels, ah! how beautiful the parallels are under God's
Andre Breton |
Always for the first time
Hardly do I know you by sight
You return at some hour of the night to a house at an angle to my window
A wholly imaginary house
It is there that from one second to the next
In the inviolate darkness
I anticipate once more the fascinating rift occurring
The one and only rift
In the facade and in my heart
The closer I come to you
The more the key sings at the door of the unknown room
Where you appear alone before me
At first you coalesce entirely with the brightness
The elusive angle of a curtain
It's a field of jasmine I gazed upon at dawn on a road in the vicinity of Grasse
With the diagonal slant of its girls picking
Behind them the dark falling wing of the plants stripped bare
Before them a T-square of dazzling light
The curtain invisibly raised
In a frenzy all the flowers swarm back in
It is you at grips with that too long hour never dim enough until sleep
You as though you could be
The same except that I shall perhaps never meet you
You pretend not to know I am watching you
Marvelously I am no longer sure you know
You idleness brings tears to my eyes
A swarm of interpretations surrounds each of your gestures
It's a honeydew hunt
There are rocking chairs on a deck there are branches that may well scratch you in the
There are in a shop window in the rue Notre-Dame-de-Lorette
Two lovely crossed legs caught in long stockings
Flaring out in the center of a great white clover
There is a silken ladder rolled out over the ivy
By my leaning over the precipice
Of your presence and your absence in hopeless fusion
My finding the secret
Of loving you
Always for the first time
Andre Breton |
Je connais le d?sespoir dans ses grandes lignes.
Le d?sespoir n'a pas d'ailes, il ne
se tient pas n?cessairement ? une table desservie sur une terrasse, le soir, au bord de
C'est le d?sespoir et ce n'est pas le retour d'une quantit? de petits faits
comme des graines qui quittent ? la nuit tombante un sillon pour un autre.
Ce n'est pas
la mousse sur une pierre ou le verre ? boire.
C'est un bateau cribl? de neige, si vous
voulez, comme les oiseaux qui tombent et leur sang n'a pas la moindre ?paisseur.
connais le d?sespoir dans ses grandes lignes.
Une forme tr?s petite, d?limit?e par un
bijou de cheveux.
C'est le d?sespoir.
Un collier de perles pour lequel on ne saurait
trouver de fermoir et dont l'existence ne tient pas m?me ? un fil, voil? le d?sespoir.
Le reste, nous n'en parlons pas.
Nous n'avons pas fini de des?sp?rer, si nous
Moi je d?sesp?re de l'abat-jour vers quatre heures, je d?sesp?re de
l'?ventail vers minuit, je d?sesp?re de la cigarette des condamn?s.
Je connais le
d?sespoir dans ses grandes lignes.
Le d?sespoir n'a pas de coeur, la main reste toujours
au d?sespoir hors d'haleine, au d?sespoir dont les glaces ne nous disent jamais s'il est
Je vis de ce d?sespoir qui m'enchante.
J'aime cette mouche bleue qui vole dans le
ciel ? l'heure o? les ?toiles chantonnent.
Je connais dans ses grandes lignes le
d?sespoir aux longs ?tonnements gr?les, le d?sespoir de la fiert?, le d?sespoir de
Je me l?ve chaque jour comme tout le monde et je d?tends les bras sur un
papier ? fleurs, je ne me souviens de rien, et c'est toujours avec d?sespoir que je
d?couvre les beaux arbres d?racin?s de la nuit.
L'air de la chambre est beau comme des
baguettes de tambour.
Il fait un temps de temps.
Je connais le d?sespoir dans ses grandes
C'est comme le vent du rideau qui me tend la perche.
A-t-on id?e d'un d?sespoir
pareil! Au feu! Ah! ils vont encore venir.
Et les annonces de journal, et les r?clames
lumineuses le long du canal.
Tas de sable, esp?ce de tas de sable! Dans ses grandes
lignes le d?sespoir n'a pas d'importance.
C'est une corv?e d'arbres qui va encore faire
une for?t, c'est une corv?e d'?toiles qui va encore faire un jour de moins, c'est une
corv?e de jours de moins qui va encore faire ma vie.