Surrealism-Plays is a site devoted to the history and creative works of the Surrealist Movement, as well as the anti-tradition of avant-garde theatre.


MOURNING FOR MOURNING

an excerpt


by Robert Desnos (1924)

Robert Desnos

Translated by Terry Hale


Women's teeth are such pretty objects that one should only see them in dreams or at the moment of death. It is the time of night when delicate jaws fasten themselves on our gobs, o poets! Do not forget that a train, having jumped all the signals, is careering towards Kilometre 178 and that, at night, our dreams, on march for many a long year, have been delayed by two naked women talking at the foot of a poplar. Just as truly as we were contained in the first woman, our dreams were contained in the first dream. Ever since birth, we have been seeking one night to walk together side by side, even if only for a moment in time. Our age is infinity and infinity demands that the meeting, the coincidence, takes place today in a railway compartment, hurtling toward disaster. Lock us in together, o poets! The invisible door opens on to countryside and an organ, yes an organ, rises up from the marsh. The fingers of the blond woman, which I notice for the first time are webbed, ring out on it a joyful hymn. A wedding march of our reflections left behind in the mirror when the woman we ought to have met and never will comes to admire herself in it. A wedding march of hands severed as an ex-voto when death, offering us its basket full of violets, again agrees to read our horoscope. At the sound of the organ, the hangar doors open and throbbingly release voluminous dirigibles into the open sky.

Awoken from his sleep, the pilot buried at Kilometre 178 throws the points thirty seconds before the express arrives and aims them at the moon. The train goes by with its hellish din. It casts a shadow over our satellite and disappears like the song of the liner's engineer heard by mistake on the radio in the middle of a town in the south of France. The fair-haired virgin takes out a needle and sews a tiny purse full of freshly pulled teeth. She throws it at the fleeing stars and the sky henceforth assumes the appearance of a set of enormous, adorable woman's jaws. The same woman who will look into the mirror an hour after me. The pilot goes back to sleep and says: "I've got plenty of time to waste." The red star, the red star, the red star will fade at sunrise.

It was a very calm summer's night over a marsh.

A clock struck 1,2,3.

Beautiful blond with the red lips!


From The Automatic Muse, published by Atlas Press.

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