Monday, January 25, 2010

Two poems by
Paul Éluard

Max Ernst

Dans un coin l'inceste agile
tourne autour de la virginité d'une petite robe
Dans un coin le ciel délivré
Aux épines de l'orage laisse des boules blanches.

Dans un coin plus clair de tous les yeux
On attend des poissons d'angoisse,
Dans un coin la voiture de verdure de l'été
Immobile glorieuse et pour toujours.

A la louer de la jeunesse
Des lampes allumées très tard.
La première montre ses seins que tuent des insectes rouges.

Max Ernst

In one corner agile incest
pivots around the virginity of a little white dress
In one corner heaven sends forth
flashes of white in the thorns of a storm

In a corner bright with eyes
the anguish of fish,
the car of summer and greenery
now and always gloriously immobile

Her youth is rent,
lamps lit too late.
the first illuminates
the death of the red insect buried
beneath her breast.

(trans. Hoffman)


Paul Éluard, Capitale de la Doleure (Capital of Pain) 1926.

Max Ernst and Paul Éluard were great friends, sharing living quarters in Paris and apparently a great deal more. Sometime in 1924, Max began an affair with Paul's wife Gala, perhaps inclusive of two, perhaps expanded to three...In any case, Paul became fed up with the whole mess and left the pair to their own devices. Eventually Paul and Gala reconciled, although the reconciliation was short-lived. Gala met and fell in love with Salvador Dali, eventually divorcing Paul to marry Salvador. For his part, Salvador considered Gala his muse and the love of his life.

Eluard was part of the surrealist movement in Paris in the early 1920's. The influence is seen in his Max Ernst...a dream like quality, strongly visual. The image of the fish is interesting. Is he expressing an affinity to a fish out of water, struggling for life and breath?


La courbe de tes yeux

La courbe de tes yeux fait le tour de mon coeur,
Un rond de danse et de douceur,
Auréole du temps, berceau nocturne et sûr,
Et si je ne sais plus tout ce que j'ai vécu
C'est que tes yeux ne m'ont pas toujours vu.
Feuilles de jour et mousse de rosée,
Roseaux du vent, sourires parfumés,
Ailes couvrant le monde de lumière,
Bateaux chargés du ciel et de la mer,
Chasseurs des bruits et sources de couleurs,
Parfums éclos d'une couvée d'aurores
Qui gît toujours sur la paille des astres,
Comme le jour dépend de l'innocence
Le monde entier dépend de tes yeux purs
Et tout mon sang coule dans leurs regards.


The Curve of Your Eyes

The curve of your eyes has encircled my heart
in a round of dance and tenderness.
Halo time, the comfort of the cradle song,
and if I know nothing about this life that I have lived,
I will know that your eyes did not always see me.
Leaves of day, foam of dew,
reeds of the wind, scented smiles,
wings covering the light of the world,
boats carrying sky and sea,
hunters of noise and the source of all colors,
Your perfume hatches a brood of dawns
lying stillborn on a straw of stars,
as the day depends on innocence
so my being depends on your eyes
and all my life flows under their sight.

(Trans. Hoffman)


Beautiful and so very sad. The world continues on while the lover exists only in the vision of his beloved. Again, a surrealist influence, imbued over all with a synethesic confusion of the senses. I love Éluard's imagery of "halo time", referring to the moment of the head crowning at birth.


(Image: Salvador Dali, "Geodesic" Portrait of Gala, 1936)

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