Robert Desnos: If You Knew

20 August 2018


Far from me like the stars and all the tokens of poetic myth,
Far from me and yet present without knowing,
Far from me and more silent still because I imagine you endlessly,
Far from me my sweet mirage eternal dream you cannot know.
If you knew.
Far from me and perhaps more so still through not knowing and still not Knowing
Far from me because doubtless you do not love me or, what is the same, Because I doubt it.
Far from me because you carefully ignore my passionate desires.
Far from me because you are cruel.
If you knew.
Far from me, o joyful as the water-lily that dances on its stalk in the river,
O sorrowful like seven in the evening in the mushroom beds.
Far from me silent still as though in my presence and joyful still
Like the hour in the shape of a stork that swoops from on high.
Far from me in the moment when alembics sing, when the sea silent
And sounding falls back on the white pillows.
If you knew.
Far from me o my present, present torment far from me in the magnificent
Crackle of oyster-shells crushed beneath the night-owl’s feet at daybreak
As he passes in front of restaurant doors.
If you knew.
Far from me, a wilful material mirage.
Far from me, an island that turns aside at the passage of ships.
Far from me a calm herd of oxen wanders from its track, halts
Obstinately at the edge of a steep precipice, far from me, o cruel.
Far from me, a shooting star falls into the poet’s bottle one night.
He swiftly corks it and then watches the star trapped by the glass,
Watches the constellations born on the walls, far from me,
You are far from me.
If you knew.

Far from me a house is finally finished.
A bricklayer in a white shirt on the scaffolding sings the saddest little song,
Suddenly the house’s future appears in his bucketful of mortar: the kisses
Of lovers the double suicides the nakedness in the rooms of unknown
Beauties their dreams at midnight and the voluptuous secrets surprised
By parquet floors.
Far from me,
If you knew.
If you knew how I love you, and though you don’t love me, how joyful
I am, how strong and proud of stepping out with your image in my head,
Stepping out of the universe.
How joyful to the point of death.
If you knew how the world is subject to me.
And you, rebellious beauty too, how much you are my prisoner.
O you, far from me, to whom I am subject.
If you knew.

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