Pierre Reverdy, who was close to Picasso and Braque and was enormously admired by the surrealists, is one the greatest of modern French poets and one of the most elusive. His work is at once impersonal and intimate, crystalline and opaque, simplicity itself and mysterious as can be. Paul Auster has described his poems as combining an "intense inwardness with a proliferation of sensual data...The poet seems to evaporate, to vanish into the haunted country he has created...as if Reverdy had emptied the space of the poem in order to let the reader inhabit it." And John Ashbery has shown himself to be no less devoted than his friend O'Hara to Reverdy, whose poems he has translated throughout his career. The strength of this new selection of Reverdy's poetry, which includes both translations that have been specially commissioned for this volume along with a range of outstanding earlier ones, is not only to provide a sampling of Reverdy's finest work in all its variety but also to document the appeal it has had for so many of America's best writers and translators. Reverdy is represented by work early and late, from the pioneering Prose Poems of 1915 and Roof Slates of 1918 to his violently conceived and brutally worded, war-haunted poems of 1946 to 1948, entitled The Song of the Dead (originally illustrated by Picasso) to his final Freedom of the Seas of 1960. The twelve distinguished translators involved are John Ashbery, Dan Bellm, Mary Ann Caws, Lydia Davis, Marilyn Hacker, Richard Howard, Geoffrey O'Brien, Ron Padgett, Mark Polizzotti, Kenneth Rexroth, Richard Sieburth, and Rosanna Warren.