The curve of your eyes – Paul Éluard

The curve of your eyes

The curve of your eyes winds around my heart,
A round of gentleness and dance,
Halo of time, night cradle and safe,
And if I no longer know all that I’ve lived
It’s that your eyes haven’t always seen me.

Leaves of day and foam of dew,
Reeds of the wind, scented smiles,
Wings shading the world of light,
Boats brimming with sky and sea,
Hunters of noise and sources of colour,

Scents bloomed from a brood of dawns
That still rests on a bed of stars,
As the day depends on innocence
The whole world depends on your pure eyes
And all my blood flows into their gaze.

Paul Éluard (from Capitale de la douleur, 1929)

Translation by John Lyons

La courbe de tes yeux

La courbe de tes yeux fait le tour de mon cœur, 
Un rond de danse et de douceur, 
Auréole du temps, berceau nocturne et sûr, 
Et si je ne sais plus tout ce que j’ai vécu 
C’est que tes yeux ne m’ont pas toujours vu.

Feuilles de jour et mousse de rosée, 
Roseaux du vent, sourires parfumés,
Ailes couvrant le monde de lumière, 
Bateaux chargés du ciel et de la mer, 
Chasseurs des bruits et sources des couleurs,

Parfums éclos d’une couvée d’aurores 
Qui gît toujours sur la paille des astres, 
Comme le jour dépend de l’innocence 
Le monde entier dépend de tes yeux purs 
Et tout mon sang coule dans leurs regards.

Paul Éluard (from Capitale de la douleur, 1929)

Rilke’s Apollo

Archaic torso of apollo
Archaic torso of Apollo

Rilke’s Apollo

Value shaped
           by the heart
and by the hand
           lends form to love
The torso that gleams
           the flicker of stone
seen in the eyes
           all the softness
of starlight
           caught in the lines
from which these
           my words
take their life
The artist a beast
           that preys upon
the timeless universe’s
           and depth

John Lyons

Em português:

O Apolo de Rilke

Valor formado
            pelo coração
e pela mão
            dá forma ao amor
O torso que brilha
            o cintilar de pedra
visto nos olhos
            toda a suavidade
da luz das estrelas
            pego nas linhas
das quais
            minhas palavras
tiram a vida
O artista uma fera
            que faz pilhagem
da distância
           do movimento
da profundidade
           do eterno universo

Poem, by Paul Verlaine

Paul Verlaine

Above the roof, the sky’s
So blue, so calm!
Above the roof, a tree
Waves its leaves.  

The bell, in the sky we see,
Is softly ringing.
On the tree we see a bird
Singing its sad song.  

My God, my God, life is there,
Simple and tranquil.
This peaceful sound
Comes from the town.  

And you there, what have you done,
With your endless tears,
Tell me, you, what have you done,
With your younger years?

Paul-Marie Verlaine (1844 – 1896) 

Translation by John Lyons


Le ciel est, par-dessus le toit,
Si bleu, si calme!
Un arbre, par-dessus le toit,
Berce sa palme.

La cloche, dans le ciel qu’on voit,
Doucement tinte.
Un oiseau sur l’arbre qu’on voit,
Chante sa plainte.

Mon Dieu, mon Dieu, la vie est là
Simple et tranquille.
Cette paisible rumeur-là
Vient de la ville.

– Qu’as-tu fait, ô toi que voilà
Pleurant sans cesse,
Dis, qu’as-tu fait, toi que voilà,
De ta jeunesse ?

I dream you from afar – Jules Supervielle

supervielleJules Supervielle (1884-1960) was born into a French-Basque family living in Uruguay. Aged ten, he was sent to Paris, where he completed his education at the Sorbonne. For the rest of his life, he divided his time between Uruguay and France. He was friends with André Gide, Paul Valéry and Jacques Rivière, and in 1923, he met the Austrian poet, Rainer Maria Rilke, a crucial influence on his later work. The poem below is from Oublieuse mémoire, published in 1949.

I dream you from afar

I dream you from afar, and, close by, it’s all the same,
But always you remain precise, without response,
Under my calm eyes you become music,
As with the glance, I catch you by ear.

You know how to be in me as though before my eyes,
So much your heart is tendered, melodious,
And I hear you pounding at my secret temples
As you flow into me and so disappear.

Translation by John Lyons

Je vous rêve de loin

Je vous rêve de loin, et, de près, c’est pareil,
Mais toujours vous restez précise, sans réplique,
Sous mes tranquilles yeux vous devenez musique,
Comme par le regard, je vous vois par l’oreille.

Vous savez être en moi comme devant mes yeux,
Tant vous avez le cœur offert, mélodieux,
Et je vous entend battre à mes tempes secrètes
Lorsque vous vous coulez en moi pour disparaître.

Philippe Soupault, two poems

Philippe Soupault, two poems



I can’t sleep Georgia
I shoot arrows in the night Georgia
I’m waiting for Georgia
I think Georgia
Fire is like snow Georgia
The night is my neighbour Georgia
I hear every sound without exception Georgia
I see the smoke rising and seeping away Georgia
I creep along in the shadows Georgia
I run here’s the street the suburbs Georgia
Here’s a city that’s the same
and that’s new to me Georgia
I rush along here comes the wind Georgia
and the cold silence and fear Georgia
I’m leaving Georgia
I’m running away Georgia
the clouds are low they’ll tumble down Georgia
I’m opening my arms Georgia
I can’t close my eyes Georgia
I call Georgia
I shout Georgia
I call Georgia
I call out to you Georgia
Will you come Georgia
soon Georgia
Georgia Georgia Georgia
I can’t sleep Georgia
I’m waiting for you


Epitaph for Francis Picabia

did you want us to bury you with your four dogs
a newspaper
and your hat
You asked us to write on your grave
Have a nice trip
They’re going to take you for a fool up there too

Translations by John Lyons

Philippe Soupault (1897-1990) was a French writer and poet, novelist, critic, and political activist. Active in Dadaism, he later founded the Surrealist movement with André Breton. He was also the translator of William Blake’s Songs of Innocence and Experience into French.

Black stone upon a white stone

Black stone upon a white stone

I’ll die in Paris when it’s pouring with rain
On a day whose memory I cherish.
I’ll die in Paris (it makes no odds to me),
On maybe a Thursday like today, in autumn.

Yes, a Thursday because today, Thursday
O what dull verse. . . my upper arms won’t respond,
And never like today have I about-faced
To see myself all alone, the years I’ve known.

César Vallejo has died, beaten by
One and all, though he did them no harm.
They beat him hard with a stick
Hard too with a rope: his upper arms;
The Thursdays; the rain and loneliness;
The journeys, all bear witness. . .

César Vallejo (1892-1938)

Translation by John Lyons

The courtyard

Jorge Luis Borges

The courtyard

As night fell
the two or three colours of the courtyard grew tired.
This evening, the moon, the bright circle,
does not dominate its space.
Courtyard, funnelled sky.
The courtyard is the slope
down which the sky pours into the house.
eternity awaits at the stars’ crossroad.
How pleasant to live in the obscure companionship
of a hallway, a water tank and a vine.

Jorge Luis Borges

Translated by John Lyons

Jorge Luis Borges (24 August 1899 – 14 June 1986) was an Argentine short-story writer, essayist, poet and translator, and a key figure in Hispanic Literature.