Surrealist Love Poems

Not surprisingly, Paul Eluard’s 10 poems are among the strongest, especially “I love you,“ “The earth is blue like an orange,“ and “The lover,“ with its endearing first line, “She is standing on my eyelids.“ The poems of the dadaist Philippe Soupault, the Mexican author Octavio Paz, Benjamin Peret, and his beloved, the painter Remedios Varo, are also memorable. Varo’s poem is funny and wicked, though it doesn’t give off a small fraction of the heat generated by Joyce Mansour’s poems.
Finally, as someone who’s often a bit suspicious of translations, I think it’s unfortunate that the poems aren’t presented in their original language in addition to English (most of them were presumably written in French). When Rene Char alludes to “unquenchable pane“ in “The nuptial countenance,“ is that a play on words? A surreal image? A typo? Without more investigation, we’re left guessing at the answer to that question and others.
This story ran on page D5 of the Boston Globe on 2/14/2002.

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