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.
Photograph of Pierre Reverdy as he gazes tearfully at something
Translations of poems by Pierre Reverdy
TO EACH HIS PART (CHACUN SA PART)
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.
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
a sigh of them.
Life deserts me.
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
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
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
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.
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
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 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
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.
BEFORE THE HOUR
She's up this morning.
We see nothing but her
And her triangular heart
Outshining the sun.
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.
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.
THE WALL'S SHADOW
An eye stuck with a feather
A tear assaulting the moon
The world enters a knapsack
The cypresses do the same dance
The road extends itself into whiteness
The winter countryside is blue
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
THE COLD MAN
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
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.