1929, Robert Desnos with Youki who was his second great love. Youki was married to Foujita when she first met Desnos in 1928. She did not at first like his "childish antics" but soon they became friends and he became a regular visitor to her house. As time progressed Desnos began to forget about Yvonne George and had transferred his affection and symbolism (starfish, mermaid) to Youki.

By October of 1931, Foujita's and Youki's marriage had deteriorated. On the 31st Foujita went out to buy cigarettes and instead booked passage on a ship and sailed to Brazil. In his farewell note he wrote "I do not have any more strength to fight in Paris ... Let me have the simple life which I dream of...You now have a faithful friend, Robert ... who has taken my place and for him you are the dearest person in the world."

In early summer of 1944 Robert Desnos wrote this letter to Youki from Buchenwald where he was imprisoned. It is one of the very last things he wrote:

My love,

Our suffering would be unbearable if we couldn't think of it as a passing and sentimental illness. Our rediscoveries will adorn our life for at least thirty years. As for me, I'm taking a deep drink of youth, and I'll come back to you full of love and strength! During our separation a birthday, mine, was the occasion of a long fantasy about you. Will my letter reach you in time for your birthday? I would've liked to give you 100,000 American cigarettes, a dozen dresses from the great couturiers, an apartment on the rue Seine, a car, the cottage in the Compiègne forest, the one on Belle-Isle and a little four-sous bouquet. While I'm gone, keep flowers around all the time; I'll pay you back for them. All the rest, I promise it to you later.

But above all else, drink a bottle of good wine and think of me. I hope our friends won't forget to visit you that day. I thank them for their courage and devotion. About a week ago I got a package from JL Barrault. Kiss him for me, and Madeleine Renaud too; the package is proof my letter got through. I haven't gotten an answer; I'm waiting for one every day. Kiss everyone in the family, Lucienne, Aunt Juliet, Georges. If you run into Passeur's brother, give him my best and ask him if he knows anyone who can help you if you need it. What's happening with my books at the printer's? I've got a lot of ideas for poems and novels. I regret not having the freedom or the time to write them. But you can tell Gallimard that within three months after I get back he'll have the manuscript of a love story in an entirely new genre. I'm ending this letter for today.

Today, July 15th, I got four letters, from Barrault, Julia, Dr. Benet, and Daniel. Thank them and apologize for me for not answering. I'm allowed only one letter a month. Still no word from you, but they send me news of you; that will be for the next time. I hope that letter is our life to come. My love, I embrace you as tenderly as propriety allows in a letter which has to pass the censor. A thousand kisses. Have you gotten the little trunk I sent to the hotel in Compiègne?


the french version of the letter