Translated from the French by Dan Bellm. Bellm's translation of The Song of the Dead completes the translation of Pierre Reverdy's major works to English and is published by Black Square Editions. The cover, an image created by Picasso, is from the original French edition of Le chants des mortes.
Written in the aftermath of World War II in northern France, where Reverdy was a partisan in the Resistance movement, The Song of the Dead is a remarkable document of dissociation and shattering, refraining from documentary or narrative in favor of revealing troubled states of the soul. Reverdy's sure command of image amidst the emotional atmosphere of life-in-death in postwar France creates a work of strange eloquence and grandeur. The Song of the Dead was first published in 1948, in a handwritten edition with one hundred twenty-five color lithographs by Pablo Picasso.
The Song of the Dead
Dan Bellm is a writer, editor, and translator living in Berkeley, California. He has published four books of poetry, most recently Deep Well, (Lavender Ink, 2017) and Practice (Sixteen Rivers Press), winner of a 2009 California Book Award and named one of the Top Ten Poetry Books of 2008 by the Virginia Quarterly Review. He teaches poetry and literary translation in the Antioch University Los Angeles M.F.A. in Creative Writing Program. He has been awarded fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the California Arts Council, and poetry residencies at Yaddo and Dorset Colony House.
Pierre Reverdy (13 September 1889 - 17 June 1960) was a French poet associated with surrealism and cubism. Pierre Reverdy was born in Narbonne and grew up near the Montagne Noire in his father's house. Reverdy came from a family of sculptors. His father taught him to read and write. He studied at Toulouse and Narbonne. Reverdy arrived in Paris in October 1910. It was there, at the famous Bateau-Lavoir in Montmartre that he met Guillaume Apollinaire, Max Jacob, Louis Aragon, André Breton, Philippe Soupault and Tristan Tzara. For sixteen years, Reverdy lived for his writing. Reclusive by nature, Reverdy began to distance himself from these circles, and in 1926, at the age of 37, he left Paris, converted to Catholicism, and went to live in Solesmes, home of the great St. Peter's Abbey. He stayed there until his death in 1960.