short biography of Pierre Reverdy (1889-1960)

Pierre Reverdy was a French poet.
He was one of the 'best' poets of his 
generation or whatever. In fact he got so tired of being 
the 'best' poet that he moved into a monastery
near the end of his life just
for something new to do. He was probably
pretty bored with everything...
Included here on this page are
some translations of Reverdy's poems that I did.
They're not really translated that accurately.
To be honest all of Reverdy's poems are written in plain 
enough French that you should just read them in the 
original language if possible. Here's a good place 
to read them: LINK TO HIS POEMS 
I've also included some photographs of Reverdy + some illustrations I did.
Thanks for browsing and I hope you like my translations of Reverdy's poems. 

Pierre Reverdy (gazing + eyes watering)
Photograph of Pierre Reverdy as he gazes tearfully at something

Translations of poems by Pierre Reverdy



He chased the moon and the moon 
abandoned the night sky.
One by one the stars sank into the living water.

A fisherman stood with one eye open
beneath the aspens, his face hidden beneath his wide cap.
His line wiggled.

Nothing took. 
Instead he filled his sack
with pieces of gold. The pieces shone in the light  
but inside the dark of his sack they did not shine at all.

A second fisherman sat in the mud. 
He stared down into the muddy water, his socks full of mud.
The water, pouring out the sky, was full of many fiery stars.


The wind shuts my door.

It wears my hat like a leaf.

Everything goes into dust.

Who knows what lies behind the dust?

A short ugly man on the horizon
watches his own son topple into the void.
The heaviest of clouds steamroll the horizon.

The sky is anxious and wrinkled.
There are clear signs of something to the West.
A star trembles between silver strings and
The folds of the river stop my feet.
The tired world sleeps in its hole.

(And those not massacred in the night
get dressed in the morning and go walking.)


We are no longer here

The others have come

During the night
I fell behind

The faces I once knew
Between the chimneys digesting light
The sky grimaces

A grimacing face revealed itself

While we were leaving the party

And we saw seventy heads turn in unison
Towards the laughing Parisians
A lamp was lit
In a house of broken windows
And your eyes burned

Stumbling down the road 

And the voices increased in volume
(I would have joined my voice to theirs
If only your eyes had been open to it)

And now even the Parisians
Have fallen over themselves laughing


His hand is a seashell
And it's raining in his hand.
The gutter water

Makes a sound of metal.
Behind the curtain a red cowboy
Sways in the dawn.

The window opens on a voice:
The courtyard violin
Grinding itself into a key.
The man leans his face
Against the wall's face and
It rains on the player's head.

He's old now.
The malevolent dog licks his lips at him.

And a small child runs by
with no thought of tomorrow
or the day after.


Behind the door I hid myself
But the night refused to come

I met the sky with my rhombus eye


The fiery planes rode overhead
Evading the alarm system

There was a golf club in my pocket

A bird was beating low in my chest

The moon refused to cry

And the crowd's laughter swept into 
The folds of the curtains surrounding me


They just left
my room.

There remains 
a sigh of them.
Life deserts me.

The road...

And the open window like
A ray of sun
On the too green lawn.


The oil can

And the noise the oil can makes

The one who laughs

A cigarette sparking
In the night

The tramway holds a melody in its wheels
And a trail of thin voices pass by the porter
Whose eyes have fallen asleep on the rail

Another stop where nobody goes home

So we go again

The drag of my heart and my hands this evening
Are not my hands

I would like to see the inside of your shoes

I would like to know what you think of this 

Traveling by foot 
Behind the others

Who go so quick
They have left you behind

At the street corner

And the doll never to be taken from its box

Behind the dark glass

Says "Good night good night"

The street is wide and sad as a boulevard this evening


The moment the horses passed
the silence in me broke open.
The ceiling threatened 
to topple
onto our heads
but the windows stayed flush
against the white night sky.

We appreciate this nocturnal country.

The owls are no longer buried in the ruins.
The moonlight is scarcely in the trees.
The factory stacks and rooftops
raise themselves into the dark aquatic sky.

And the horses, as we lay beneath their tired tread,
pulled a steely box of death across the night.


Dry breathing from across the plains
the dark wings balanced
nothing parted
at the turning path
the ardors of day loosened their bones
the heavy house slept
a light sleep
in the garden two dying trees slept
but one talked

and the other cried
good night

now it's eleven o'clock
and the formless bird has flown
a winged soul with marble wings

we destroyed the nest
in the cold air something passed
the softest sound increased

a cautious dream crouched in the mud


The hollow clock
the birds dead
inside of the house where your mother sleeps
for nine hours a day

The earth holds itself together.
You might say somebody's "breathing" on it.
The trees are nearly smiling.
The water shivers at their smiling.
A cloud travels the night.

Before the door a man does sing.

The windows open noiselessly.


Head bent

Eyelashes curling
Mouth shut
Lamps lighted
There is nothing here but the name

We have forgotten
The door could open
But I would never enter

Everything that goes on 
Goes on behind me

We talk

And maybe I listen

In the next room my body sits waiting for me


Days in a dark room
Return again and again
So I bring a small lamp 
To light the way.
Gestures once confused will clarify themselves.
I insert meaning into words without meaning
And meaning to the smiling sleeping infant.

Is it possible to remain ourselves
As we grow older?
Ruins are falling apart.
Ruins are best ruined.
A pair of windows are yellow with light
And before the door stands
a dough-faced man who knows his own
strength and waits by the stool.

Even he won't recognize his face.


Day after day 
Your life is a floating 
Piece of furniture
And the windows close  
And open

And the black door in the middle
Of your face
Illuminates your figure

The sad eyes
The sad memories across your chest
Your hopes dissolving into the calm of 
sleep that returns each night
While you are sitting at the door
With your head leaning against it

In the spread of dark
A calm descends
A prayer rises
But we can't feel our knees


Everything extinguished.
The wind sings.

The trees waggle.
The animals are dead.
There is nobody here.

The stars no longer shine for the Madonna.

The earth has stopped its turning.
A single head hangs between shaky knees.

A dark hair sweeps the night.
The last living clock stands itself in a field

And sounds midnight.


She's up this morning.

We see nothing but her

And her triangular heart

Outshining the sun.
Every morning
A new dawn.

But the day wanes

And stays the same.
Nodding before stranger's eyes
And strange personal looks
Our names are as though nailed
on each of the two doors:
I cried as I knocked.

Nobody answered.
I cried as I left

But with no voice left in me
And all of sadness enclosed in my pocket.
Waiting for the sun which unlocks the windows
And the obscure designs that ignite my head.


An eye stuck with a feather
A tear assaulting the moon

A lake
The world enters a knapsack

The night
The cypresses do the same dance
The road extends itself into whiteness
The winter countryside is blue

Fingers shake
Two black squares on my face
The shadows dance on the floor
Like beasts we cannot quite see


The whole length of the street

It's raining again


He bends over the parapet
and holds his shrunken 
head by the ears.
The rooftop aligns with his shoulders
and the chimney is like his neck or something.

The clouds sing.
They coerce the house
to a waltz in the garden.
In the middle of the 
rain and branches 
she pauses.
We all stare at her pausing.

The spiderwebs shriek 
like silk tearing as
we open the windows here.
This cold-blooded man, his
head still unchanging, loses
his family to the rain.