A creature distinct enough from creation.

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Salvador Dalí, The Anteater, c. 1930.

After the Giant Anteater
by André Breton (trans. Mark Polizzotti)

Women’s stockings sift the London light
The quays are stations black with crowds but white with vanished generations
And when I say London it’s for poetic form
But the women’s stockings are really clock hands
Beneath black mother-of-pearl garters
They belong to something I cannot name
For want of a creature who would be distinct enough from creation
And destruction to lower her own night over my thought spinning round
They have been carried into time by space
By female space very different from the other kind and that’s all
Above the stockings is flesh and on either side of that flesh are bulldogs
Black and white as I said
And still higher the languid game that plays with a handkerchief
Everyone in a circle
And neither higher nor lower the enchanted telegraph wires
Scents confined in vague saucers
There is also a prison that brushes against the air of freedom
This contact engenders the somber flower of passion
That shatters everything in its wake with its fingers of glass
That absorbs the ambient air the breathable air bubble by bubble
And at that elevation perennial strawberries
Are harvested morning and night in the embers
That open onto pleasure in an agate star
The armor here shows so charming a flaw
Such old earth with its pink crust becomes desirable
That words leap over cliffs with all their roots shining
And seek the tenderest part of the ear
The electric grass has momentarily lain down
The light deflects even the ash of the eye
That remains open as if before the impossible
This flower that would be the morning-and-evening-glory
Strength and weakness drop their equipment nearby
And already the amazing feats begin
Then the dagger-colored dramas the comedies shaped like scarves
Rise by one note
And far away in the woods the future between two branches
Begins to quiver like the unappeasable absence of a leaf
Here the two pans of the scale the two sides of the hearth
Take turns submitting to the deprivation of evaluating and seeing
I think of the Great Bear but it is not she
I would minors to understand me
And ivy to heed what I’m saying
The abrupt line the treacherous gap of fire that uncovers its face
Will be but a call of the devil in the abstract city
Toward the unswearable reign of the crackling
Nameless woman
Who smashes the jewel of this day into a thousand shards

[20 May 1931]

One thought on “A creature distinct enough from creation.

  1. Pingback: The Surrealists and the Anteaters | blythebirdie

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