Live Flesh

By Pierre Reverdy 1889–1960 Pierre Reverdy

Translated By Lydia Davis

Stand up carcass and walk
Nothing new under the yellow sun
The last of  the last of  the louis d’or
The light that separates
under the skins of  time
The lock in the heart that shatters
A thread of  silk
A thread of  lead
A thread of  blood
After these waves of  silence
These tokens of  love in black horsehair
The sky smoother than your eye
The neck twisted with pride
My life in the corridor
From which I see the undulating harvests of death
All those greedy hands kneading loaves of smoke
Heavier than the pillars of  the universe
Heads empty
Hearts bare
Hands scented
Tentacles of  the monkeys who aim at the clouds
Among the wrinkles of  these grimaces
A straight line tightens
A nerve twists
The sea sated
The bitter smile of  death

Source: Poetry (October 2013).


This poem originally appeared in the October 2013 issue of Poetry magazine

October 2013


Reverdy began his career as a poet when he moved to Paris in 1910. His supporting father died a year later, so the aspiring poet was forced to eke out a living through his writing. He published his first small volume of poetry in 1915 and continued to write steadily thereafter. Gradually Reverdy became known in literary circles, frequenting the avant-garde group consisting of such wellknown artists and writers as Guillaume . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Living, Death, The Body


Poetic Terms Free Verse

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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