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Afternoon

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In the morning that comes up behind the roof, in the shelter of the bridge, in the corner of  the cypresses that rise above the wall, a rooster 
has crowed. In the bell tower that rips the air with its shining point, the notes ring out and already the morning din can be heard in the street; the only street that goes from the river to the mountain 
dividing the woods. One looks for some other words but the ideas are always just as dark, just as simple and singularly painful. There is hardly more than the eyes, the open air, the grass and the water in the distance with, around every bend, a well or a cool basin. In the right-hand corner the last house with a larger head at the window. The trees are extremely alive and all those familiar companions walk along the demolished wall that is crushed into the thorns with bursts of laughter. Above the ravine the din augments, swells, and if the car passes on the upper road one no longer knows if it is the flowers or the little bells that are chiming. Under the blazing sun, when the landscape is on fire, the traveler crosses the stream on a very narrow bridge, before a dark hole where the trees line the water that falls asleep in the afternoon. And, against the trembling background of the woods, the motionless man.
Source: Poetry (October 2013)

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

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Afternoon

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  • 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 Apollinaire, Max Jacob, Pablo Picasso, Juan Gris, and Georges Braque. With these and other artists, Reverdy helped develop cubism and surrealism. In 1917 he founded the monthly literary review, Nord-Sud, which drew together the first cubists and surrealists. The review featured many innovative authors, including Apollinaire, Jacob, Louis Aragon, Andre Breton, and Philippe Soupault.

    When the collection of his early poems, Les Epaves du ciel, appeared in 1924, Reverdy achieved greater recognition as a poet. This early...

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