Tuesday, May 16, 2017

from "The Burial of the Count of Orgaz and Other Poems," Pablo Picasso

26 April 43

TO THE SALMON-PINK CARESSES OF THE LEAF a thousand times half-opened and fixed detached offered as music to the fires and long trains of spangles
waved 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 in the woods to hooked and
shredded trances in meat and bone unfolded 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.

(Translated from the French by Pierre Joris)

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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