BOOKS / Picasso's own poetry: Picasso: Collected Writings: Aurum Press, pounds 90

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Few people think of Picasso as a writer, for obvious reasons. Yet writing was always important to him, and became especially so after 1939, when a personal crisis briefly stopped him painting. The two plays and more than 340 poetic texts he produced over the next 20 years often moved across a narrow range of intense obsessions, based on colour perception and the synaesthetic experience so important to Surrealism.

Below, one of 200 superb facsimiles in Picasso: Collected Writings (Aurum Press pounds 90), which presents his complete writings (with commentary) in French and Spanish.


at the curtain wrenched from flying hands by tousled hair

the ladder of the scent of verbena leaves

pierced by the cries of swallows in geometric flights of desire

the hotch-potch of the prism at full tilt

flower-weapon plunged into the heart

breathes out its indifference

its powdery costume cut in the shape of an eagle's head

of the snows of music of the arrows of a clown

the fake harvester of stars

arms in the satin-stitch sleeves of a bodice

unravels the nest of vipers in the tree of the watchers asleep

on the soft fires cutting the smell of silence

hung from the slats of the shutter

emerges from the drum beating the call to the decimal point of love

in the astonished eye of the toro with its wings unfurled

swimming naked in the smell of the blue locked round the neck of the dusty sun

hidden under the shivering bed

bogged down in the shadow of the whip-lash stammered out by a bloodless green

nestling in a pellet of memories tossed into ash

at the moment when the wheel balances its luck


garlic laughs at its colour a star of russet leaves

laughs in mockery at the rose-pink the dagger its colour

drives in

garlic in a star of russet leaves

laughs in malice at the dagger of roses smelling of the star

that falls

in russet leaves

garlic on the wing

(Photograph omitted)