Surrealist Love Poems

Edited by Mary Ann Caws

Surrealist Love Poems
Read three poems from the book.

Edited by Mary Ann Caws

120 pages | 14 halftones | 5-1/2 x 7-1/2 | © 2002
Paper $15.00 ISBN: 9780226098722 Published January 2006
Love poetry includes, yes, descriptions of the beloved. And images of a fantastic idyll complete with falling stars, the sound of the sea, and beautiful countryside. In the hands of Surrealists, though, love poetry also includes gravediggers and murderers, dice and garbage, snakeskin purses and "the drunken kisses of cyclones." Surrealism, the movement founded in the 1920s on the ashes of Dada’s nihilism, embraced absurdity, contradiction, and, to a supreme extent, passion and desire. From André Breton’s battle cry of "Mad Love" to the quiet lyricism of Robert Desnos, Surrealist writers and artists obsessively expressed the permutations of that fundamental human state, love, and they did so with the vocabulary of the natural and unnatural world, the explicit language of sex, and a great deal of humor.

Surrealist Love Poems brings together sixty poems—many of them translated into English for the first time—by Surrealists who charged their work through with all forms of eroticism. Within these pages you will read the magnificent love poems of Desnos, which rank among the greatest in twentieth-century poetry, and hear the voices of lesser known "poets" such as Salvador Dalí and Frida Kahlo. Poems by familiar Surrealists such as Breton, the movement’s leader, and Paul Eluard join work by Octavio Paz and Philippe Soupault. Interspersed with the poetry are photographs by Man Ray, Lee Miller, and Claude Cahun. Expertly and energetically translated by Mary Ann Caws, this collection seeks to demonstrate the truth of Breton’s words, that "the embrace of poetry like that of bodies/As long as it lasts/Shuts out all the woes of the world."
Mary Ann Caws
The poetics of surrealist love

Louis Aragon
The approach of love and a kiss
Poem written in the toilets with a knife on the wall
André Breton
Free union
I dream I see your image
Always for the first time
They tell me that over there
As they move
In the lovely twilight
On the road to San Romano
Jacques-Bernard Brunius
I love
Aimé Césaire
The automatic crystal
René Char
The climate of the hunt or how poetry is made
The nuptial countenance
Salvador Dalí
Binding cradled - cradle bound
Léon-Gontran Damas
Through the half-opened window
Robert Desnos
I have so often dreamed of you
No, love is not dead
If you knew
Sleep spaces
Oh pangs of love!
Never anyone but you
The voice of Robert Desnos
Paul Eluard
Your mouth with golden lips
The shape of your eyes
I love you
The earth is blue like an orange
I’ve told you
As you rise
The lover
About one, two, everyone
Since it must be
Our life
Marcelle Ferry
You came down from the mountains
Frida Kahlo
Now he comes
Annie Le Brun
Twelfth ring (extract)
Gilbert Lély
Sulphur smile
Dora Maar
I rested in the arms of my arms
Joyce Mansour
Your breath in my mouth
You love to lie in our unmade bed
I want to show myself naked
The storm sketches a silver margin
I want to sleep with you
Even long after my death
Alice Paalen
Turtledove on the ground
A woman who was beautiful
Octavio Paz
Clear night (extract)
Valentine Penrose
Beloved to love you
Benjamin Péret
Do you know
Pablo Picasso
Her great thighs
Philippe Soupault
Song for ghosts and for those now gone
Remedios Varo
A recipe: how to produce erotic dreams

List of illustrated works
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