André Breton and Philippe Soupault

From 'The Magnetic Fields,' 'Feelings Are Free'

Soupault and Breton, photo by Man Ray (1925)
Soupault and Breton, photo by Man Ray (1925)

Translation from French by Charlotte Mandell





Trace smell of sulfur

Public health swamp

Red of criminal lips

Quick-march brine

Whim of monkeys

Day-colored clock




Heat of locomotives in their Sunday best

Overcoats of prostitutes

Marine moon problem

Solid meridians beehive

Calomel of childhoods at the theater

Blue countrysides

There are three inhabitants

Flying fish in love with the stars

Beard of rivers languor


Thousand years compass

Psychologist pharmacists are a public danger

Rage of Chicago factories


Men love the paleness of animals




Red-hot pins

Anxious sleep of family men

Table of sugary values

Fishing for endless arguments is on sale

Police of the sexes

Paper flight bloody handkerchief

Academic occupations the sheep runs through luxury hotels

Bed of mirrors

Stars of the Republic

My animal tongue of the idle rich bourgeoisie

Sighs of happy mothers




Crime of teenagers English salt

River of chapped hands

Palace of celebrations and dawns

Red red the song

Sweet sugar become the color green

Sensations gone pale

Courage virgin blotting paper

A fly strikes fear in old men

They discover a brain there are red ants







Colorless gases are suspended

Two thousand three hundred scruples

Snow of freshwater springs

Smiles are accepted

Don’t give sailors’ promises

The lions of the Poles

The sea the sea the natural sand

The grey parrot of poor parents

Vacation of oceans

7 o’clock in the evening

Night in the country of mad rages

Finances sea salt

We can see nothing now but the beautiful hand of summer

Cigarettes of the dying




Foreign animals and industrial generals are in the same circle

The avenue of kisses

Illness of young people

The paper on the wall beds cages and circuses

Studios of salvations

A dance quick a dance

Delicate chemistry

Throw the dice

A man at sea

A man goes by I want to see him

He’s running blue bluer than my frozen fingers stain of the tracks

Railroads factories

Iron burns


Prison tobacco mother of dreams

A roundabout bar sickly gallantry

Thursday Thursday

Take your hand head in the trees

Calm of suns

Compound salts

Trucks, bring us the results

The shades our girlfriends

A general commands hands

Beautiful watches




Opening of sorrows one two one two

They are toads red flags

Saliva of flowers

Electrolysis beautiful dawn

Ball of suburban smoke

Clumps of earth cone of sand

Dear tolerated child you whisper

Never pursued the mauve light of brothels

The rug is bordered with nests of dead leaves

House-movings followed by village bands

On the walls for festival days they hang eyes toys of the poor

Farewell source of illnesses

All cries, all, and those that remain are liquid

For grownups the red order

Sun house dance forgetting the veils of the fog

Summer moon

The lantern and the little grey tree that bears an exotic name

0 133 those are the fingers of ataxia sufferers the vines of the fields

Biology teaches love

Weave lucid truths

My head is wrapped in a bandage

Crime or suicide

Acetylene is a white carnation

Dreadful pince-nez




Lottery of ascensions and asters

They’re playing cards the thousand tears of tender youth

Quality of the beloveds

The honey from foreheads passes to distances calculated on a work night

The different ailments of streets the cheerful days of sugary Saturdays

Metal mouth setting sun

Compressed air the shame of it

Who wants to sing the ballad of burns


Pretty blood is a rose

A fan of reflections

The colors of milk repose

At this occident of riches


The most gracious contrivances

And odious peddlers of clothes

Offer to our thoughts of romances

All the vapors of gratitude


There is so much to read in these passages

Our veins burst rockets beautiful rockets

Humidity corrodes our feelings with choice subtleties

Our yellow Sunday hobbies

Register of numbered passions

The matches are excellent and flower non-stop

Long live the cerebellums of mice




The air-waves of miracles and deeds

Divine calculation of palaces

Mercy for all those members

A solid rug a sword-cane and the glory of the exiled

The numbers of horizons scarlet tongue inclinations

Why bow your noble or struggling head

The days pass through your hands

Little flame for those born blind

Demonstration of laughs brown school in the back of the village blue smoke of      

      coalminers and alpine foresters

A rainbow shepherd magician

The light comes like a freshwater spring

Physics is nothing anymore

Those long threads and telegrams are the flowers of our rosy civilizations

We must take care of the neighbors smells of nights and morrows

The school window draped with ivy

The galloping of camels

Lost harbor

The train station is on the right Café de la Gare Bifur It’s fear

Oceanic prefectures

I hide inside a historic painting

So green it’s about to blossom

The leaves are tender sighs

Quickly cut down your escaped three-masted desires crazy dancers

The sea has no more color come look at the sea of algae

The gillyflower mappa mundi or shark

The poor giraffe is on the right

The seal groans

The inspectors have obscurities and kingfishers in their hands a graphometer animal of dry cities

For you, lost stamens Headquarters

of cold eternities




Bottles of flames are sweet so sweet

Suburban pirates have eyes lined with black

Green brightness adoration of landscapes

Polished shoes

Industrial company without credentials Chemical Association of Pendulums

Slackness of eyeless rodents

Bulimias of pale brooders

Mauve naivety of sellers of swift, brutally hollowed-out shutters

Under the eye of adopted acids lighthouses give courage

Green water for women

Newspapers from the day before yesterday grandmothers ramble on the sky is blue the sea is blue eyes are blue

Musical light beams quadrupeds indolent saber

The torn-apart wasps are mute they are weeping tarantulas The bag of cities under the sea pigeons are present lights cut walls and brains

There are always alarm clocks

The basilica of terrified seconds

The importance of barometers flatfish

Basil and reseda

Spanish dances cliff of deeds scaffold of waterfalls

A sphere destroys everything


TRANSLATORS NOTE: I first started translating The Magnetic Fields at the request of the young poet Tamás Panitz. He had been going to Gloucester to visit the poet Gerrit Lansing, a dear friend of my husband, the poet Robert Kelly. Gerrit would recommend various poetry books he thought were worth reading to Tamás, and Tamás would faithfully follow his advice. Except in this case: there was no translation available of The Magnetic Fields; the Gascoyne/Atlas edition had gone out of print and was prohibitively expensive. So, I thought, why not just do the first chapter? Except after the first chapter, I was hooked — there was no way I could stop after experiencing the thrill of translating such an outlandish, enticing, absorbing text. I began to feel I was a part of the pioneering automatic writing process and had to go on to the end. And so I went on, and on, until I had finished translating the whole book. This was back in 2016, I think. When I was done I compared my translation with the Gascoyne and thought, Maybe this is worth publishing after all. Then, by a wonderful coincidence (through the deus ex machina of my friend and fellow translator Jeffrey Zuckerman), I met Edwin Frank, editor-in-chief at NYRB Classics, and thought on a whim I’d send him the manuscript. To my delight, he liked my translation, and to my greater delight, he said they would publish it in 2020 — exactly a century after its first publication. For this, I would like to thank the gods of poetry, whose wonders never cease; the angel Gerrit Lansing, who set all this in motion (and who alas died recently, in 2018); Tamás, for his (frequent) prompting; Robert, for his invaluable help in editing this translation; and all the wonderful people at NYRB Classics, to whom I am truly grateful, but Edwin Frank, especially, for recognizing something in this text that might be worth reading.