from Firstly: poem xxvı by Paul Eluard

I closed my eyes so as not to see
I closed my eyes to cry
from no longer seeing you.

Where are your hands and the hands of caresses
where are your eyes the four whims of the day
with everything to lose you are no longer there
to dazzle the memory of the nights.

With everything to lose I see myself live.

translated by Stuart Kendall

poem XX by Paul Eluard

Dawn I love you I have the whole night in my veins
all night I watched you
I have everything to divine
I am sure of the darkness
giving me the power
to envelop you
to excite your desire for life
in the heart of my immobility
the power to reveal you
to liberate you to lose you
flame invisible by day.

If you go the door opens on the day
If you go the door opens on me.

translated by Stuart Kendall

poem IV by Paul Eluard

I told you for the clouds
I told you for the sea tree
for each wave for the birds in the leaves
for pebbles of noise
for the familiar hands
for the eye that becomes a face or a landscape
and the sleep that renders the sky from its color
for the entire drunken night
for the grid of the roads
for the open window for an uncovered face
I told you for your thoughts for your words
every  caress every confidence endures.

translated by Stuart Kendall

An old favorite of mine: The Beloved by Paul Eluard

She is standing on my eyelids
And her hair is inside mine,
She is the shape of my hand,
She is the color of my eyes,
She is surrounded by my shadows
Like a rock by the sky.

Her eyes always opened
She never lets me sleep
Her dreams in broad daylight
Make sunlight evaporate,
Make me laugh, cry and laugh,
Speak without a thing to say.

translated by Michael Benedikt

Bird-Catcher’s Song by Jacques Prevert

The bird that flies so sweetly
The bird red and warm as blood
The bird so tender the bird mocking
The bird that suddenly is afraid
The bird that suddenly hurts itself
The bird that would like to flee
The bird alone and enraged
The bird that would like to live
The bird that would like to sing
The bird that would like to cry
The bird red and warm as blood
The bird that flies so sweetly
It’s your heart pretty child
Your heart that beats for the wings so sadly
Against your breast so hard and white

translated by Mark Strand and Jean Ballard

Saltimbanques: for Louis Dumur by Guillaume Apollinaire

Across the field the traveling clowns
Go past beside the gardens
Before the doors of mist-enshrouded inns
Through churchless towns

Some children run out ahead of them
While others fall back dreaming
Each fruit-tree gladly resigns
Its burden when from far off they make their signs

The weights they bear are round or square
With tambourines and hoops gilt silver
Wise beasts the bear the monkey
Beg small coins along the way

translated by Michael Benedikt