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Highgreen Arts

Pierre Reverdy

Selected Poems

By Pierre Reverdy

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Selected Poems

Translated by John Ashbery, Mary Ann Caws and Patricia Terry Edited by Timothy Bent and Germaine Brée

Pierre Reverdy (1889-1960) is one of the greatest and most influential figures in modern French poetry. He was at the centre of French poetry and culture for fifteen of the headiest years of the century, yet took little part in the fervent activities of the avant-garde. Later, he withdrew completely.

After settling in Paris in 1910, Reverdy founded the influential journal Nord-Sud with Max Jacob and Guillaume Apollinaire, which drew together the first Surrealists. Associated with painters such as Picasso, Gris and Braque, he has been called a Cubist poet, for conventional structure is eliminated in his poésie brut ('raw poetry'), much as the painters cut away surface appearance to bring through the underlying forms. But Reverdy went beyond Cubist desolation to express a profound spiritual doubt and his sense of a mystery in the universe forever beyond his understanding.

André Breton hailed him in the first Surrealist Manifesto as 'the greatest poet of the time'. Louis Aragon said that for Breton, Soupault, Éluard and himself, Reverdy was 'our immediate elder, the exemplary poet'. But the reclusive Reverdy distanced himself from these circles, and in 1926 left Paris to live out his life within the shadow, if not securely within the faith, of the Abbey of Solesmes.

'Reverdy's strange landscapes, which combine an intense inwardness with a proliferation of sensual data, bear in them the signs of a continual search for an impossible totality. Almost mystical in their effect, his poems are nevertheless anchored in the minutiae of the everyday world; in their quiet, at times monotone music, the poet seems to evaporate, to vanish into the haunted country he has created. The result is at once beautiful and disquieting as if Reverdy had emptied the space of the poem in order to let the reader inhabit it' Paul Auster.

£7.95  Paperback 
1 85224 154 3.  192pp. 1991. 
Subjects:  AcademicAvantgarde/ExperimentalBilingual EditionsFrenchModern ClassicModernist PoetryPhilosophical InterestReligious/Spiritual

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