Reverdy and Rozerem


Listening to ‘Bookworm,’ a weekly radio program hosted by Michael Silverblatt, I discovered the French poet   Pierre Reverdy. He is known as a Surrealist, but his poems seem very straightforward to my untrained ears. They are morbid, dismal, creepy, and cut to the heart of things with unusual eloquence. Keep in mind that I hate poetry, though.

Ron Padgett read his new translation of a prose poem by Reverdy that ended with “….alas, my hate endures” bla bla bla. I experienced that shock of recognition: Mine, too! I thought happily.

I’ve been thinking of getting a tattoo, probably a terrible idea, but I haven’t been able to come up with a good idea until now. So I’ve been trying to find out how to translate this phrase back into French, without success.

Can anyone help? “My hatred endures” is the single best description of my worldview that I’ve ever stumbled upon. I know it’s pretentious to get a tattoo in a foreign language, but at least it’s not Latin. I just read about some actress/moron who has a tattoo in Sanskrit, which seems like some sort of milestone in stupidity. My other tattoo idea, for the last few years, was a gang-banger name that I think I made up: Lil’ Spiteful. I’m not ruling that one out, but I’m wondering how it will go over in the nursing home where I’ll end up, with nothing left in my memory bank except the Complete Lyrics of Bob Dylan.

Meanwhile, my hatred endures, and tonight it is flowing in several directions. I tried Lunesta last night for the first time, and instead of that cute little butterfly I got nothing but grinding insomnia. I’m so disgusted by this failed experiment in pharmaceuticals that I don’t want to try my sample of Rozerem. If I can’t achieve the butterfly, it’s hard to believe I’ll get Abe Lincoln and that hedgehog. I don’t even know if that thing is a hedgehog, a gopher, or a beaver.


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3 Responses to Reverdy and Rozerem

  1. Sonja says:

    I have a fluently bilingual english/french friend coming over this afternoon, I get the translation for you then.

  2. Max says:

    After much searching, I found the poem:

    C’est une étonnante chimère. La tête, plus
    haut que cet étage, se place entre deux files
    de fer et se cale et se tient; rien ne bouge.
    La tête inconnue parle et je ne comprends
    aucun mot, je n’entends aucun son -bas
    contre terre. Je suis toujours sur le trottoir
    d’en face et je regarde; je regarde les mots
    qu’emporte le vent; les mots qu’il va jeter plus
    loin. La tête parle et je n’entends rien, le vent
    disperse tout.
    O grand vent, moqueur ou lugubre, j’ai
    souhaité ta mort. Et je perds mon chapeau que
    tu m’as pris aussi. Je n’ai plus rien; mais ma
    haine dure, hélas plus que toi-même.

    And here is my translation:

    This is an astonishing fantasy. The head, higher
    than this floor, places itself between two iron files
    and is fixed and is held; nothing budges.
    The unknown head speaks and I do not understand
    a word, I do not hear any sound – low
    against the ground. I am always on the pavement
    of opposites and I look; I look at the words
    that the wind carries; the words that it will throw
    further. The head speaks and I hear nothing, the wind
    disperses all.
    O high wind, mocking or gloomy, I have wished
    your death. And I lose my hat that
    you also took from me. I no longer have anything; but my
    hatred endures, alas more than yourself.

  3. Sister Wolf says:

    Beautiful. Thank you so much!!

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