Dreams are ultimately fleeting. We are in them for only moments, but they can carry profound messages within shocking juxtapositions of elements not normally found together. How then does one describe this purest sense of automatism in the structured setting of grammar and lexis? This ability is where in lies the genius and beauty of the poetry that was birthed from pioneers of such liberated rationality such as André Breton.
Although the automation of the production these literary works was often over advertised, since many of these published works were often edited or in some ways indirectly though out, the essence of the writing lies within the seemingly random organization of thoughts and images presented by the poet into an underlying tone. The surrealist poets were very adept at allowing their works to be unfettered yet somehow directed to a higher purpose makes their poetry a great contribution to the literary world. This ability would also be what eventually attracted artists to the movement and would allow paintings to begin to mirror this same use of the juxtaposition of unrelated images that when taken together would still leave the viewer with some inkling of purpose and tone.
In his poem “Les Attitudes Spectrales” Breton portrays the surrealist poets genius as he is able to seamlessly step from reflections on the importance of life to imagery of the ocean to the perfume of a women. The imagery and organization, as with many writers of the Surrealist movement, seems to follow no rhyme or reason however the undertones of the poem seem palpable. This palpability is probably due to later editing of the “automatic” work. Breton’s poem here seems to dwell on a type of futility. It describes and often references death and seems to retain a dark tone throughout.
One of the more striking juxtapositions and steps from one image to another was the segment of the poem in which Breton describes drapes he recalls from a town then moves to reflections of death. A t this segment of the poem, Breton describes the drapes beautifully but with very little detail and using only implications to suggest the drapery’s form. He describes the drapes, that if you were to see him wrapped in them that you might mistake it for the end of your time, which for me beautifully rendered the at-first imageless drapes into dark and heavy flowing fabric. This segment is yet only another striking juxtaposition of ideas in the poem that overall contributes to what I felt as a tone of dread and futility.