Robert Desnos, the son of a café owner, was born on July 4, 1900, in Paris.
He attended commercial college, and then worked as a clerk before becoming a literary columnist for the newspaper Paris-Soir.
He first published poems in the Dadaist magazine Littérature in 1919, and in 1922 he published his first book, Prose Selavy, a collection of surrealistic aphorisms. While on leave in Morocco from his mandatory two years in the French Army, Desnos befriended poet Andre Breton. Together with writers Louis Aragon and Paul Eluard, Breton and Desnos would form the vanguard of literary surrealism.
They practiced a technique known as "automatic writing," ... more »
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Robert Desnos Poems
I Have Dreamed of You so Much
I have dreamed of you so much that you are no longer real. Is there still time for me to reach your breathing body, to kiss your mouth and make your dear voice come alive again?
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.
Many times upon a time There was a man who loved a woman. Many times upon a time There was a woman who loved a man.
I lived in those times. For a thousand years I have been dead. Not fallen, but hunted; When all human decency was imprisoned, I was free amongst the masked slaves.
The flower of the Alps told the seashell: "You're shining" The seashell told the sea: "You echo" The sea told the boat: "You're shuddering" The boat told the fire: "You're glowing brightly"
The Voice of Robert Desnos
So like a flower and a current of air the flow of water fleeting shadows the smile glimpsed at midnight this excellent evening so like every joy and every sadness
Under Cover of Night
To slip into your shadow under cover of night. To follow your footsteps, your shadow at the window. That shadow at the window is you and no one else; it's you.
What sort of arrow split the sky and this rock? It's quivering, spreading like a peacock's fan Like the mist around the shaft and knot less feathers Of a comet come to nest at midnight.
To the right, the sky, to the left, the sea. And before your eyes, the grass and its flowers. A cloud, the road, follows its vertical way Parallel to the plumb line of the horizon,
The Ring of Stars
In order to make a star with five branches Where six would have been the same A circle must first be drawn In order to make a star with five branches ...
Identity of Images (Identité des ...
I am fighting furiously with animals and bottles In a short time perhaps ten hours have passed one after another The beautiful swimmer who was afraid of coral wakes
In the night there are of course the seven wonders of the world and the greatness tragedy and enchantment. Forests collide with legendary creatures hiding in thickets. There is you.
Long Long Ago
Long long ago I went through the castle of leaves Yellowing slowly in the moss And far away barnacles clung desperately to rocks in the sea Your memory better still your tender presence was there too
A frightening stillness will mark that day And the shadow of streetlights and fire-alarms will exhaust the light All things, the quietest and the loudest, will be silent The suckling brats will die
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I Have Dreamed of You so Much
I have dreamed of you so much that you are no longer real.
Is there still time for me to reach your breathing body, to kiss your mouth and make
your dear voice come alive again?
I have dreamed of you so much that my arms, grown used to being crossed on my
chest as I hugged your shadow, would perhaps not bend to the shape of your body.
For faced with the real form of what has haunted me and governed me for so many
days and years, I would surely become a shadow.
O scales of feeling.
I have dreamed of you so much that surely there is no more time for me to ...