Saturday, 27 May 2017

In The Bag?

Manchester Monday night - what a frightful blight on young lives; a city rocked in the wrong way. The response has been resilience, a positive bonding of many colours and creeds in affirmation of community. No fear among the worker bees.

We are poets, wordsmiths. I've written poems about bloodshed in Paris and carnage in London but this is somehow too close to home. I can't express what I feel, the letters haven't settled yet, let alone the words coalesced - they're still a jumble of scrabble tiles in the bag, slowly forming in response.

Therefore I thought I should offer the next best option, not avoiding the issue exactly, more presenting what I hope is an acceptable distraction in the form of one of my favourite poems. It was written shortly after the 2nd World War by the brilliant French poet Jacques Prevert and was translated by another of my favourite poets, Lawrence Ferlinghetti. I hope it has the desired effect.

To Paint The Portrait Of A Bird
First paint a cage
with an open door
then paint
something pretty
something simple
something beautiful
something useful
for the bird

then place the canvas against a tree
in a garden
in a wood
or in a forest
hide behind the tree
without speaking
without moving...

Sometimes the bird comes quickly
but he can just as well spend long years
before deciding

Don't be discouraged
wait years if necessary
the swiftness or slowness of the coming
of the bird having no rapport
with the success of the picture

When the bird comes
if he comes
observe the most profound silence
wait till the bird enters the cage
and when he has entered
gently close the door with a brush
paint out all the bars one by one
taking care not to touch any feathers of the bird

Then paint the portrait of the tree
choosing the most beautiful of its branches
for the bird
paint also the green foliage and the wind's freshness
the dust of the sun
and the noise of the insects in the summer heat
and then wait for the bird to decide to sing

If the bird doesn't sing
it's a bad sign
a sign that the painting is bad
but if he sings it's a good sign
a sign that you can sign

So then so very gently you pull out
one of the feathers of the bird
and you write your name in a corner of the picture...

Thanks for reading. Go in peace, Steve :-)


Anonymous said...

Nicely done. Love the poem and the graphic too. Well done. MCR.

Anonymous said...

Agree with the above comment. It is a fascinating poem. Thanks for the introduction to M. Prevert.