New East Digital Archive

‘Your hands are scissors that cut through my dream:’ an erotic poem by Czech surrealist Vítězslav Nezval

'Your hands are scissors that cut through my dream:’ an erotic poem by Czech surrealist Vítězslav Nezval

8 October 2021
Poem by: Vítězslav Nezval
Translated by: Stephan Delbos and Tereza Novická

Vítězslav Nezval (1900-1958) was an avant-garde Czech writer and a co-founder of the Surrealist movement in Czechoslovakia. The first English language edition of his poetry collection Woman in the Plural was recently published by Twisted Spoon Press, in the translation of Stephan Delbos and Tereza Novická. Get your copy of the book here.

song of songs

Your eyes two gunshots fired blindly

Two gunshots fired blindly right on target

Two gunshots fired blindly around the corner I turned

Like a convict looking for the prison yard’s end

Your eyes two party horns

Two distant carousels

Two bells

Two signets

Your eyes two thimbles of hemlock

Your eyes two gags for eternal silence

Two wicker baskets

Two test tubes

Two brass clock wheels

Your eyes two buttercups

Your eyes two perfect rhymes

Your eyes two field drums

Two sad funerals two window leaps

Your eyes two dreamless nights

Like apothecary scales

Like a double-barreled shotgun

Like a dual adieu

Your eyes like two cactus flowers

Like a single dumbbell

Like a two-volume novel

Like a ripped rose

Like the Tropic of Cancer with the Tropic of Capricorn

Like a fake ducat beside a real ducat

Like two disc brakes

Like sea and land like the Gemini like two timid sighs

Your lips are a red order

One salutes and stands at attention

As you withdraw you’re attended by eyes right

Of all those who swore an oath to you

Your lips are a soft velvet ribbon

Happily leaning over the tobacco plant

An eruption from the crater of a rose

A blowfly of sunstrokes

Your lips two spawning fish

A tinderbox with touchwood

A spice grinder

Your lips two award ribbons

Your lips are red-hot coals I stoke to burn my memories

And a huge carnivorous plant

A cockscomb

A breakfast plum cake

Your lips are a bleeding truffle

And a summer beehive

Your lips are an enigmatic monogram

Your lips are a weaving shuttle painted red

Your lips are a sugar bowl

But also a field of red poppies full of statues

Your lips are a golden spinning wheel

A seabed a moon crater

Your lips are a case for pearls

A sealed last will

A blazing skyrocket

A watch spring

Your lips are a lunar eclipse

A solar eclipse

An eclipse of Venus and Earth

Your hands are scissors that cut through my dream

Your hands spiders

As your shoulders quiver like a peacock

Your hands are ice packs

Your hands are flower buds

Your hands are raindrops

On breasts forming a vortex

Your breasts are phantasms

Like puffball dust clouds

Your breasts are like a cyclone concealing two ruby flames

Your breasts are a wasp’s nest

An hourglass two piles of semolina

A frozen bird

Your breasts are two oil lamps

Two hogtied hostages

Neon arrows

Boiling cream

Your breasts are snakes basking in the sun

Two corks in water

Two solitary mushrooms

Your breasts erect as a porcupine

Your breasts taking flight

Your breasts are two camellias in the hands of night

Two pigeons in a thief ’s clutches

Two dandelions

Your breasts like a jingle bell duet

Like opal

Like two whip cracks

Like baby cauliflower

Like two knots in a kerchief

Like the rising and setting sun like rising and setting Venus and Jupiter

Your belly is a fireball

With the scent of singed hair

Your belly is a rattan ladder

A storm at sea and the saddest reef

Your belly is a fowl with a turkey’s wattle

A colossal leech

A skid on black ice

Your belly is aquatic nettle

Horseradish leaf or a lapping flame

Your belly is a mill

And also the mill wheel pulverising a drowned corpse

A breaking wheel

A white louse with mandibles clasped in prayer

Your belly is whitewash

Kneaded dough a white-hot fork

A kangaroo overwintering

A dim mirror and undersea evening

Your belly a cloud before a storm

A pond amid a moonlit night

Your belly of organdy soaked in black ink

Your sex is a marvellous deception

Will-o’-the-wisp or sage

Your sex is a split willow whistle

Like the residue of reseda soap

Like the mouth of an earthworm

Like a baby pea pod

Like a moist affectionate eye

Like a Libellula

Like a Mimosa

Your sex like a firefly in the heart of a cabbage rose

As if you’re from black elderberry marrow

From white asbestos fiber glowing in the fire

From a mix of magnolia dough and dark rye flour

From worm-eaten rose mahogany

Your legs are the clash of two flashes of sheet lightning

Of two melancholies

Of two lengthy rivers

Your legs like water beetles

Like magnesium flashes

Like winter nights

Like long equations

Your legs like drunken grape harvests

Like a harbour dance

Your legs like war

Your crotch is a soldering flame

A butterfly’s flight a ship’s propellor

Your hips are a cavalcade

Your hips are Geissler tubes

Your hips are indolence itself

A spindle’s hum a viola’s shadow

Your brow is a spark

Your teeth a press

Your ears stray question marks

Your neck a waterfall

You are like day fading into night fading into day fading

into phantasm

Read more

'Your hands are scissors that cut through my dream:’ an erotic poem by Czech surrealist Vítězslav Nezval

‘Like a glass of vodka infected with blood:’ 2 poems by Angela Marinescu, the matriarch of modern Romanian poetry

'Your hands are scissors that cut through my dream:’ an erotic poem by Czech surrealist Vítězslav Nezval

‘Spin, world, spin, circus:’ two avant garde Ukrainian poems celebrating circus life

'Your hands are scissors that cut through my dream:’ an erotic poem by Czech surrealist Vítězslav Nezval

‘How far away love is’: 3 poems from one family of Czech poets