Thursday, May 21, 2009

Selected Poems, Pierre Reverdy

A bilingual edition, translated from the French, with an introduction by Kenneth Rexroth, Jonathan Cape, 1973.

I have long since forgotten how long this exquisite little book has been with me; nor do I remember where I bought it, if ever I did, because there is no price listed anywhere. However, I do remember the excitement I felt upon opening the book and finding gems such as this one--priceless.

From the Introduction: "As the years have passed and cette belle epoque recedes into perspective, for us today, Pierre Reverdy stands out from his fellows as the most profound and most controlled artist....In verse such as Reverdy's....the elements, the primary data of the poetic construction [they] are simple, sensory, emotional or primary informative objects capable of little or no further reduction....Reverdy works with dismembered propositions from which subject, operator and object have been wrenched free and restructured into an invisible or subliminal discourse which owes its cogency to its own strict, complex and secret logic."

"Poetry such as this attempts not just a new syntax of the word. Its revolution is aimed at the syntax of the mind itself. Its restructuring of experience is purposive, not dreamlike, and hence it possesses an uncanniness fundamentally different in kind from the most haunted utterances of the Surrealist or Symbolist unconscious."

"When the ordinary materials of poetry are broken up, recombined in structures radically different from those we assume to be the result of causal, or of what we have come to accept as logical, sequence, and then an abnormally focused attention is invited to their comprehension, they are given an intense significance, closed within the structure of the work of art, and are not negotiable in ordinary contexts of occasion. So isolated and illuminated, they seem to assume an unanalysable transcendental claim. Accompanying, as it were garbing, this insistent transcendence are sometimes certain projected physical responses induced or transmitted in the person undergoing the poetic experience, whether poet or reader. Vertigo, rapture, transport, crystalline and plangent sounds, shattered and refracted light, indefinite depths, weightlessness, piercing odours and tastes, and synthesizing these sensations and effects, an all-consuming clarity."

1 comment:

  1. Fascinating: “Reverdy came from a family of sculptors.”

    In light of this Introduction, now I’m trying to picture his workroom floor....


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