I Have So Often Dreamed Of You

man-ray-lee-miller-1930-via-albumsceline[1]
Lee Miller-Man Ray 1929
Robert Desnos was in many ways the archetypal surrealist spirit. Involved in Paris Dada he was in the literary vanguard of Surrealism and possessed an extra-ordinary talent for automatic writing during the Trance Period, rivalled only by Rene Crevel. Desnos, like many others, fell out with Andre Breton and joined the group centred around Georges Bataille and his magazine Documents and he was one of the signers of the anti-Breton polemic Un Cadavre.

During WWII Desnos was an active member of the French Resistance and he was captured by the Gestapo in 1944. He was deported to Auschwitz, then Buchenwald and finally Theresienstadt where he would die a few weeks after the camp’s liberation from typhoid.

I Have So Often Dreamed Of You

I have so often dreamed of you that you become unreal.
Is it still time enough to reach that living body and to kiss
on that mouth the birth of the voice so dear to me?
I have so often dreamed of you that my arms used as they are
to meet on my breast in embracing your shadow would
perhaps not fit the contour of your body.
And, before the real appearance of what has haunted and ruled
me for days and years, I might become only a shadow.
Oh the weighing of sentiment,
I have so often dreamed of you that there is probably no time
now to waken. I sleep standing, my body exposed to all the
appearances of life and love and you, who alone still
matter to me, I could less easily touch your forehead and
your lips than the first lips and the first forehead I
might meet by chance.
I have so often dreamed of you, walked, spoken, slept with your
phantom that perhaps I can be nothing any longer than a
phantom among phantoms and a hundred times more shadow
than the shadow which walks and will walk joyously over
the sundial of your life.

Translation Mary Ann Caws

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56 thoughts on “I Have So Often Dreamed Of You

  1. Lovely and bittersweet. So many died soon after liberation. Their bodies were just spent and when the fight-or-flight energy they’d been living on for months or years finally dissipated with (relative) safety, they collapsed and yielded to starvation or illness.

    P.S. Going out of state for a week. May not reply to future entries in a timely manner. So don’t worry.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I know there is a whole world of heartache in that post. I choose the photograph of Lee Miller because she took a bath in Hitler’s bathtub so it seemed like a revenge in a way. Plus it is a dreamy picture and Lee was stunning.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. This is a wonderful post. I’m thrilled to see that you selected a gorgeous photo of Lee Miller by Man Ray, I don’t believe he ever stopped dreaming about her, ever.

    Wonderful write up on Robert Desnos, truly tragic ending. “I Have So Often Dreamed Of You” is a beautiful and heartbreaking poem, I believe Desnos wrote it about his love for Yvonne George, terribly sad.

    I enjoyed this post very much, lovely presentation. Take care. ~ Mia

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you very much for your lovely intelligent and insightful comments, I am very glad that you enjoyed the post. The photo seems to capture the mood of the poem but also my default mode is ‘pick a Man Ray, any Man Ray.’ Desnos end was truly tragic and appalling. Thanks again

      Liked by 1 person

  3. The photo is beautiful and the poem is kind of haunting. What a concept for a love poem. The longing and the kind of sighing resignation is heart wrenching. But lovely as well.

    Liked by 1 person

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