Trois Poèmes de Pierre Reverdy

I came to Reverdy late – I was already in my twenties – through two verses from Les Ardoises du toit, that I happened to be leafing through by chance at a friend’s home: ‘The last belltower still standing / Chimes midnight’. I don’t know to what those words, so simple, so bare, reflected in me, to what cranny of shadow and ash, at a time when Mallarmé and Saint-John Perse were fighting over my memory – and my mirrors. I continually tried to set to music this poem, ‘Son de cloche’, by forced march. I did not keep this youthful attempt – I remember only its weaknesses and melodramatic tendency. This was a question of misunderstanding the poet who, however violently moved by beings or events, loathed pathos and sleight of hand or ear…

The three songs I present here, composed ten years later and drawn from the same admirable collection, have perhaps not broken with those defects, exacerbated by texts that all speak of night, solitude, and fear. At least they strive to achieve in turn, by virtue of the notes, ‘this transmutation carried out on things by virtue of words’, as Reverdy himself described his poetry.

Guy Sacre
(translation: John Tyler Tuttle)


  • Nuit
  • Sur le talus
  • Sombre