Salvador Dali

written by David Gascoyne

Salvador Dali

— David Gascoyne

The face of the precipice is black with lovers;
The sun above them is a bag of nails; the spring's
First rivers hide among their hair.
Goliath plunges his hand into the poisoned well
And bows his head and feels my feet walk through his brain.
The children chasing butterflies turn round and see him there
With his hand in the well and my body growing from his head,
And are afraid. They drop their nets and walk into the wall like smoke.

The smooth plain with its mirrors listens to the cliff
Like a basilisk eating flowers.
And the children, lost in the shadows of the catacombs,
Call to the mirrors for help:
'Strong-bow of salt, cutlass of memory,
Write on my map the name of every river.'

A flock of banners fight their way through the telescoped forest
And fly away like birds towards the sound of roasting meat.
Sand falls into the boiling rivers through the telescopes' mouths
And forms clear drops of acid with petals of whirling flame.
Heraldic animals wade through the asphyxia of planets,
Butterflies burst from their skins and grow long tongues like plants,
The plants play games with a suit of mail like a cloud.

Mirrors write Goliath's name upon my forehead,
While the children are killed in the smoke of the catacombs
And lovers float down from the cliffs like rain.

About the poet


David Gascoyne

David Gascoyne was born in 1916 in Harrow, Middlesex, and educated at Salisbury Cathedral School and the Regent Street Polytechnic, London. His first collection of poetry, 'Roman Balcony and Other Poems' was published when he was sixteen, and in 1933 Cobden-Sanderson brought out his novel 'Opening Day'. Both books are remarkable achievements for an adolescent, and they were followed by the equally striking poetry collections 'Man's Life Is This Meat' (1936) and 'Hoelderlin's Madness' (1938), which established his reputation as one of the most original voices of the 1930s. Gascoyne was among the earliest champions of Surrealism: in 1935 his A Short Survey of Surrealism was published, and in the next year he was one of the organisers of the London International Surrealist Exhibition. From...

Read Full Biography

Poem of the Day

Vitaï Lampada

Sir Henry Newbolt

There's a breathless hush in the Close to-night—
Ten to make and the match to win—
A bumping pitch and a blinding light,
An hour to play and the last man in.
And it's not...

Read Full Poem

Poet of the Day

Christopher Marlowe

Christopher Marlowe (baptised 26 February 1564; died 30 May 1593) was an English dramatist, poet and translator of the Elizabethan era. As the foremost Elizabethan tragedian, next to William Shakespeare, he is known for his blank verse, his overreaching protagonists, and his mysterious death...

Read Full Biography