Sunday, July 21, 2013

"The Burial of the Count of Orgaz": Pablo Picasso, poet

26 April 43

half-opened and fixed detached offered as music to the fires 
and long trains of spangleswaved and crazy so said and splashed in glory 
and rockets screamed and painted to the pearly distinct braids 
to the solitudes seen all mixed up
with the caressing burned distillations to the branches 
and to the raised hangings to the sordid little secrets 
and to the unfortunate discoveries in digestions and prayers 
vomited from a point into far enamored sumptuous
arabesques and ritornellos of the decompositions and tears 
to the spattered and festooned arcs labors torn in perfumes 
and in crowns and diabolic sated processions  
to the tendernesses prepared disappeared and undone 
so late of each long trajectory revolted enveloped stretched 
to hooked and shredded trances in meat and bone unfolded
in the woods 
into veils and vellums oars smack
raised in flames and good-byes rigorously projected as bait 
to the crowd of mirrors aping the drained apparition 
at the bottom 
of the raised lakes of the sun with large brush strokes 
painting three quarters of the sideboard
buried in the mess of hairs of the fur caulking 
with cotton waste 
the belly open to the light with large strokes of the icy roof 
of the stretched sheet of the water armor 
screamed at the window 
with all the strength of the gay bouquet in plucked apparel 
to all chance and risk imagined.

In 1935, at age 54, an emotional crisis caused Picasso to stop painting and devote himself entirely to poetry. Even after resuming his visual work, Picasso continued to write, in a characteristic torrent, until 1959, leaving a body of prose poems that Andre Breton praised as "an intimate journal, both of the feelings and the senses, such as has never been kept before."

 Near the end of his life, Picasso himself was quoted as having "told a friend that long after his death his writing would gain recognition and encyclopedias would say: 'Picasso, Pablo Ruiz--Spanish poet who dabbled in painting, drawing and sculpture.'" Burial of the Count of Orgaz and Other Poems (Exact Change, 2004) is a collaboration of translators coordinated by poets Jerome Rothenberg and Pierre Joris, a project to translate the majority of this writing into English for the first time. 

Working from Picasso's original Spanish and French (he wrote in both languages), they enlisted the help of over a dozen contemporary poets in order to mark, as they note in their introduction, "Picasso's entry into our own time." Pierre Joris' blog, Nomadics, is worth a browse in its own right.

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