We currently have six poems by Antonin Artaud from a new translation. You can listen to them all one after the other using the playlist below or if you prefer you can click the links further down to read a specific poem whilst listening to it.
Translated by R J Dent
Translation Copyright © R J Dent (2009)
Read and listen to Dark Poet
Dark Poet, a virgin’s breast
Embittered poet, life seethes
And cities burn,
And the sky sucks up the rain,
As your pen writes on the heart of life.
Forest, forest, alive in your eyes,
On multiple wings;
With storm-tossed hair,
Poets mount horses, dogs.
Eyes blaze, tongues lash,
The heavens surge into our senses
Like mother’s nourishing milk;
Women, I hang from your mouths
And kick your hard, vinegar hearts.
Read and listen to Love
And love? We must cleanse ourselves
of this hereditary filth
where our stellar vermin
continue to prowl
The organ, the organ that grinds the wind
the tides of the raging sea
are like the hollow melody
of this disturbing dream
Of her, of us, or of this soul
sitting with us at the banquet
tell us who is deceived,
inspirer of the infamous
She who sleeps in my bed
and shares the air of my room,
can play dice on the table
of the ceiling of my mind
Read and listen to Prayer
Ah, give us burning skulls
Skulls burned by lightning from the sky
Clean skulls, real skulls,
Cleansed by your presence
Deliver us unto the inner skies
Where chasms are filled by showers
And where vertigo fills us
With your incandescent power
Feed us – give us this day our daily
Sacrament of confusion,
Ah, share with us stars and lava,
Instead of your blood
Free us. Divide us into tribes
With your hands of eternal fire
And send us along burning roads,
Where we go to die beyond death
Make our brains distort and twist
At knowing our own godliness,
And delight in our intelligence,
As we’re pulled into each new hurricane
Read and listen to Sex Street
Sex Street suddenly comes alive
with unwelcome faces;
cafes, all full of whispering
criminals, line the avenues.
Sex-starved hands burn in pockets,
hot loins boil beneath bellies;
and when desires collide,
heads cost less than holes.
Read and listen to The Mystical Ship
It has been lost, that archaic ship
On seas that drench my fevered dreams,
Its tall masts hidden in the mist
Of a biblical and psalm-filled sky.
It will not be pastoral Greeks
Who gently play among bare trees;
And the holy ship will never sell
Its rare cargo in foreign lands.
It knows no warm ports of the earth,
Eternally alone, it knows only God,
As it plows through glorious, infinite waves.
The pointed bow plunges into mystery;
At night, the tips of its masts gleam
With the mystic silver of the polar star.
Read and listen to to With me is god-the-dog, and its tongue
With me is god-the-dog, and its tongue,
which like a garrotte cuts through
the skin of the double vaulted cap
of the itching earth.
And here is the triangle of water
that crawls with a bug’s gait,
but which under the burning bud
turns around to stab.
Beneath the breasts of the hideous earth
god-the-bitch has hidden
the earth’s breasts and the frozen milk
that will rot her hollow tongue.
And here is the virgin-with-a-hammer,
eager to pound the caves of earth
in which the skull of the dog star
begins to hideously arise.
Antonin Artaud - 1896 - 1948
Was a French writer, poet, dramatist, visual artist, essayist, actor and theatre director, widely recognized as one of the major figures of twentieth-century theatre and the European avant-garde, and known for his raw, surreal and transgressive themes. He conceptualized the Theatre of Cruelty movement with essays and plays, and wrote experimental texts with themes of introspection, mysticism, drug use, unorthodox politics and his experiences with schizophrenia.
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