Robert Desnos

(1900 - 1945 / Paris)

If You Only Knew

Far from me and like the stars, the sea and all the trappings of poetic myth,
Far from me but here all the same without your knowing,
Far from me and even more silent because I imagine you endlessly.
Far from me, my lovely mirage and eternal dream, you cannot know.
If you only knew.
Far from me and even farther yet from being unaware of me and still unaware.
Far from me because you undoubtedly do not love me or, what amounts to the
same thing, that I doubt you do.
Far from me because you consciously ignore my passionate desires.
Far from me because you are cruel.
If you only knew.
Far from me, joyful as a flower dancing in the river at the tip of its aquatic stem,
sad as seven p.m. in a mushroom bed.
Far from me yet silent in my presence and still joyful like a stork-shaped hour
falling from on high.
Far from me at the moment when the stills are singing, at the moment when the
silent and loud sea curls up on its white pillows.
If you only knew.
Far from me, o my ever-present torment, far from me in the magnificent noise of
oyster shells crushed by a night owl passing a restaurant at first light.
If you only knew.
Far from me, willed, physical mirage.
Far from me there's an island that turns aside when ships pass.
Far from me a calm herd of cattle takes the wrong path, pulls up stubbornly at the
edge of a steep cliff, far from me, cruel woman.
Far from me, a shooting star falls into the poet's nightly bottle.
He corks it right away and from then on watches the star enclosed in the glass, the
constellations born on its walls, far from me, you are so far from me.
If you only knew.
Far from me a house has just been built.
A bricklayer in white coveralls at the top of the scaffolding sings a very sad little
song and, suddenly, in the tray full of mortar, the future of the house appears:
lovers' kisses and double suicides nakedness in the bedrooms strange beautiful
and their midnight dreams, voluptuous secrets caught in the act by the parquet
Far from me, If you only knew.
If you only knew how I love you and, though you do not love me, how happy I
am, how strong and proud I am, with your image in my mind,
to leave the universe.
How happy I am to die for it.
If you only knew how the world has yielded to me.
And you, beautiful unyielding woman, how you too are my prisoner.
O you, far-from-me, who I yield to.
If you only knew.

Submitted: Friday, January 03, 2003


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  • Rookie - 642 Points Sossi Khachadourian (12/15/2014 4:21:00 PM)

    Far from me, If you only knew.
    If you only knew how I love you and, though you do not love me, how happy I
    am, how strong and proud I am, with your image in my mind,
    to leave the universe.
    How happy I am to die for it. (Report) Reply

  • Freshman - 1,642 Points John Richter (12/15/2014 7:42:00 AM)

    far from me in the magnificent noise of
    oyster shells crushed by a night owl passing a restaurant at first light.

    Presumably speaking to a woman he desires but who does not return that emotion, he is speaking about or referring to her as this owl? As most modern poetry fails to affect me, so does this. I'm sure there are many who adore word art for its phonetic assonance alone, but to me it is nothing more than a canvass filled with beautiful colors that fail to form any recognizable object. I could probably get a better thrill by looking into a box of crayons, which are at least arranged in order of color.... (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Tim Stensloff (12/15/2012 4:56:00 PM)

    So great to see Desnos getting a Poem of the Day slot! (Report) Reply

    Freshman - 1,273 Points Oilibheir Álain Christie (12/15/2014 7:05:00 AM)

    Si tu savais

    Loin de moi et semblable aux étoiles et à tous les accessoires de la mythologie poétique,
    Loin de moi et cependant présente à ton insu,
    Loin de moi et plus silencieuse encore parce que je t'imagine sans cesse,
    Loin de moi, mon joli mirage et mon rêve éternel, tu ne peux pas savoir.
    Si tu savais.
    Loin de moi et peut-être davantage encore de m'ignorer et m'ignorer encore.
    Loin de moi parce que tu ne m'aimes pas sans doute ou, ce qui revient au même, que j'en doute.
    Loin de moi parce que tu ignores sciemment mes désirs passionnés
    Loin de moi parce que tu es cruelle.
    Si tu savais.
    Loin de moi, ô joyeuse comme la fleur qui danse dans la rivière au bout de sa tige aquatique, ô triste comme sept heures du soir dans les champignonnières.
    Loin de moi silencieuse encore ainsi qu'en ma présence et joyeuse encore comme l'heure en forme de cigogne qui tombe de haut.
    Loin de moi à l'instant où chantent les alambics, l'instant où la mer silencieuse et bruyante se replie sur les oreillers blancs.
    Si tu savais.
    Loin de moi, ô mon présent présent tourment, loin de moi au bruit magnifique des coquilles d'huîtres qui se brisent sous le pas du noctambule, au petit jour, quand il passe devant la porte des restaurants.
    Si tu savais.
    Loin de moi, volontaire et matériel mirage.
    Loin de moi, c'est une île qui se détourne au passage des navires.
    Loin de moi un calme troupeau de boeufs se trompe de chemin, s'arrête obstinément au bord d'un profond précipice, loin de moi, ô cruelle.
    Loin de moi, une étoile filante choit dans la bouteille nocturne du poète. Il met vivement le bouchon et dès lors il guette l'étoile enclose dans le verre, il guette les constellations qui naissent sur les parois, loin de moi, tu es loin de moi.
    Si tu savais.
    Loin de moi une maison achève d'être construite.
    Un maçon en blouse blanche au sommet de l'échafaudage chante une petite chanson très triste et, soudain, dans le récipient empli de mortier apparaît le futur de la maison: les baisers des amants et les suicides à deux et la nudité dans les chambres des belles inconnues et leurs rêves- à minuit, et les secrets voluptueux surpris par les lames de parquet.
    Loin de moi,
    Si tu savais.
    Si tu savais comme je t'aime et, bien que tu ne m'aimes pas, comme je suis joyeux, comme je suis robuste et fier de sortir avec ton image en tête, de sortir de l'univers.
    Comme je suis joyeux à en mourir.
    Si tu savais comme le monde m'est soumis.
    Et toi, belle insoumise aussi, comme tu es ma prisonnière.
    Ô toi, loin de moi, à qui je suis soumis.
    Si tu savais.

    Bronze Star - 7,196 Points Daniel Brick (12/15/2014 6:52:00 AM)

    I agree with you 100% Robert Desnos is a great poet, but most poetry lovers I know don't know his work.
    so it's good to hear your simple decisive endorsement of him. And the poem PH chose is so characteristic of his fidelity to the woman he loved despite her lack of an equal return of love. Desnos had such capacity for love! And what a wild untrammeled IMAGINATION.

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