August 15, 2022

Céline Arnauld (b. Romania / France) 1885-1952

Céline Arnauld (b. Romania/France)

                                                                                    Celine Arnauld with Surrealist poets

Céline Arnauld was born Carolina Goldstein in Calarashi, Romania in 1885. In 1914, she published La Lanterne magique, no material traces of which have yet been recovered. A year later, she moved to Paris, changed her name and became productively entangled in a nexus of international avant-garde networks. Her poems appeared in a multitude of Dada and Proto-Surrealist periodicals, including  391, Action, Ça ira, Cannibale, Contimporanul, Dadaphone, Le Mouvement accéleré, Le Disque vert,  Littérature. An ardent cinéphile, she wrote film reviews for Action (nos. 6, 9 & 10) and reviewed poetry by Lautréamont, Picabia, Mallarmé and Tagore for L’Esprit nouveau (nos. 2,3,4,5).
     1920 was a prodigious year for Arnauld, and for the Paris Dada scene in which she was, by then, so active. On February 5th, her ‘Ombrelle Dada’, was delivered at the Salon des Indépendants. This was the only manifesto by a female author to be published, later that year, in Littérature’s ‘Vingt-trois manifestes du mouvement Dada’ (May 1920). In March, she played a ‘femme enceinte’ (pregnant woman) in the inaugural performance of Tzara’s La Première aventure céleste de Monsieur Antipyrine at the ‘Manifestation Dada de la Maison de l’Oeuvre’. In May, Jeu d’Échecs, a ‘lyrical dialogue’ written and performed by Arnauld, featured on the bill for the ‘Festival Dada’ at the Salle Gaveau. She was the editor of ‘Projecteur’ (21 May 1920): a single-issue Dada magazine of prose and poetry by major figures including Eluard, Ribemont-Dessaignes, Tzara, Soupault, Breton and Renée-Dunan. The dissolution of Dada did not quell her productivity. Between 1919 and 1948 she produced ten further books of poetry and the experimental prose work, Tournevire (1919). An anthology of selected poems (1919-1935) appeared under the imprint of the ‘Cahiers du Journal des Poètes’ in Brussels in February 1936. Having lived for many years as the wife of the Belgian poet and editor Paul Dermée— her collaborator both in Dada and (having himself been born Camille Jannsen) in renaming—Arnauld died in Paris in 1952. Explicitly resistant to subsumption into the history of any single school or movement, Arnauld gave to her idiosyncratic poetic the (Olsen-anticipating) appellation ‘Projectivisme’.
La Lanterne magique (Romania? 1914); Tournevire (Paris: Editions de l’Esprit Nouveau, 1919); Poèmes à claires-voies. (Paris: Editions de l’Esprit Nouveau, 1920); Point de Mire (Paris: Jacques Povlovsky & Cie, Collections ‘Z’, 1921); Guêpier de diamants (Antwerp: Editions Ça Ira, 1923); L’Apaisement de l’éclipse, passion en deux actes, précedé de diorama, confession lyrique (Paris: Ecrivains Réunis, 1925); La Nuit rêve tout haut poème à deux vois & Le Clavier Secret, poèmes (1925 à 1934) (Paris: Collection des D.I. de l’Esprit Nouveau, 1934); Anthologie Céline Arnauld: morceaux choisis de 1919 à 1935 (Brussels: Les Cahiers du Journal des Poètes, Série Anthologique, Collection 1936, no.3 (February 1936); Heures Intactes (Brussels: Les Cahiers du Journal des Poètes, Série Poétique, Collection 1936, no.1 (January 1936); Les Réseaux du réveil  (Paris: G.L.M., 1937); La nuit pleure tout haut: poème (Paris: Collection Interventions, Librairie Paul Magné, 1939); Rien qu’une étoile, suivi de plain-chants sauvages, poèmes (Paris: Montbrun, 1948).

 See Ruth Hemus, Dada’s Women (Yale UP, 2009).


While the stunning cannonade of a captive wind
Dies in the well

My early years on the hill
Contend for the wheat and the tares
Have pity on my light
For I have not yet loved the rosebush
Sang the tares

Laughter ghostly burglar
Apparently imprinted in the poet’s memory
Do not fear being hung
At reality’s neck

A great misery
Hallucinatory wave
Made of my cruelty
Encircles my forehead
This solitude is blonde
Divine mortification on the summit of a pyramid
A great misery
Of fake jewels and silence

The villages push deep into verdant abysses
Pulled tense by a surfeit of whiteness
And behold the procession
The lyrical procession of me glimpsed alone
Lean in—laugh—

Here is the master of muses the carnie the ghost
In his wake the sun drawn along by birds
All in celluloid
The virgin in ripolin
The crystal butterflies
A muse in chiffon
A cardboard love
Don Quixote in satin…
On his way to the parade
It’s his finale
All of you beware

He’s the highest meteor on the wheel…

I never wanted to die
Let me love him too
Raise me up to watch him
Begged the wastrelle

Above all do not look

Above all do not look with indifference
The dead will betray you
They are the loyal ones the opium dreamers
Our soul’s transparency
Which cannot bear the grave
Nor the heart’s suicide…

But the arms which tighten
Immense possession of this me of love
Of interior wit and incomprehension…

Your pride summed up in a few wisp of smoke…
Then the arithmetic leap—of learning
Old—old—old—the winking of dark roses
Wandering passions with lavender breath
These dead ones eyes glued to openworks…
We can jump the graves if you like

This tangle of casks and ivy
Abandoned to the wind

What have we done here
Babbling about time all the while—oy vey
I have found my cross
—Translated from the French by Sarah Hayden

English language translation ©2014 by Sarah Hayden


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