Robert Desnos

(1900 - 1945 / Paris)

Epitaph - Poem by Robert Desnos

I lived in those times. For a thousand years
I have been dead. Not fallen, but hunted;
When all human decency was imprisoned,
I was free amongst the masked slaves.

I lived in those times, yet I was free.
I watched the river, the earth, the sky,
Turning around me, keeping their balance,
The seasons provided their birds and their honey.

You who live, what have you made of your luck?
Do you regret the time when I struggled?
Have you cultivated for the common harvest?
Have you enriched the town I lived in?

Living men, think nothing of me. I am dead.
Nothing survives of my spirit or my body.


Comments about Epitaph by Robert Desnos

  • Rajnish Manga (3/5/2017 8:53:00 PM)


    A very thought provoking poem with a loaded question addressed to those who have done nothing for the less privileged and allowing them to rot in the world. Thanks.
    Do you regret the time when I struggled?
    Have you cultivated for the common harvest?
    (Report) Reply

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  • Daniel Brick (3/5/2017 6:20:00 PM)


    The last line affirms the resolutely non-religious stance of Surrealism - that is, all transcendence, all vision, all
    super-reality comes out of our human nature. We are not redeemed by a superior being, we makes ourselves superior beings. But facism destroyed Desnos's world and he died in a Nazi camp. But through all of his suffering he affirmed the highest value of Surrealism, F-R-E-E-D-O-M. He never budged from his position as a spokesperson for the Imagination transforming people into living poems, for serving his beloved with utmost devotion, for being true to his humanity to the very end. In the final words he scribbled
    on a paper found in his coat, he expressed his transcendent love for his human lover, and praised her SUN-TRANSFIGURED LIFE which illuminated his life. The enemies of freedom and decency were defeated
    by a poet who did not bear arms or commit violence: he defeated them by living a humane life. He was a secular saint.
    (Report) Reply

  • (3/5/2017 3:10:00 PM)


    A fine poem from a distinguished French poet. (Report) Reply

  • Tom Allport (3/5/2017 4:19:00 AM)


    a thought provoking poem that is even more relevant with its questions to day? (Report) Reply

  • Bernard F. Asuncion (3/5/2017 2:01:00 AM)


    Common harvest.... thanks for sharing.... (Report) Reply

  • Edward Kofi Louis (3/5/2017 1:40:00 AM)


    Living men, think nothing of me! Thanks for sharing. (Report) Reply

  • Robert Murray Smith (3/5/2017 1:30:00 AM)


    This poem is an epitaph to be interpreted by the living. (Report) Reply

  • (1/4/2009 1:22:00 AM)


    'Not fallen, but hunted'
    These poems and the short bio here make me curious to read more by Desnos.
    (Report) Reply

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Read poems about / on: river, sky, time, hunting



Poem Submitted: Friday, January 3, 2003



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