"Blue Guitar" By Pablo Picasso

“Blue Guitar” By Pablo Picasso









The man bent over his guitar,

A shearsman of sorts.  The day was green.


They said, “You have a blue guitar,

You do not play things as they are.”


The man replied, “Things as they are

Are changed upon the blue guitar.”


And they said then.  “But play, you must,

A tune beyond us, yet ourselves,


A tune upon the blue guitar

Of things exactly as they are.”



I cannot bring a world quite round,

Although I patch it as I can.


I sing a hero’s head, large eye

And bearded bronze, but not a man,


Although I patch him as I can

And reach through him almost to a man.


If to serenade almost to man

Is to miss, by that, things as they are,


Say that it is a the serenade

Of a man that plays a blue guitar.



Ah but to play man number one,

To drive the dagger in his heart,


To lay his brain upon the board

And pick the acrid colors out,


To nail his thought across the door,

Its wings spread wide to rain and snow,


To strike his living hi and ho,

To tick it, tock it, turn it true,


To bang it from a savage blue,

Jangling the metal of the strings . . .



So that’s life, then:  things as they are?

It picks its way on the blue guitar.


A million people on one string?

And all their manner in the thing,


Old Guitarist by Pablo Picasso

Old Guitarist by Pablo Picasso

And all their manner, right and wrong,

And all their manner, weak an strong?


The feelings crazily, craftily call,

Like a buzzing of flies in autumn air,



Do not speak to us of the greatness of poetry,

Of the torches wisping in the underground,


Of the structure of vaults upon a point of light.

There are no shadows in our sun,


Day is desire and night is sleep.

There are no shadows anywhere.


The earth, for us, is flat and bare.

There are no shadows.  Poetry


Exceeding music must take the place

Of empty heaven and its hymns,



A tune beyond us as we are,

Yet nothing changed by the blue guitar;


Ourselves in the tune as if in space,

Yet nothing changed, except the place


Of things as they are and only the place

As play them, on the blue guitar,


Placed, so, beyond the compass of change,

Perceived in final atmosphere;


For a moment final, in the way

The thinking of art seems final when


The thinking of god is smoky dew.

The tune is space.  The blue guitar


Becomes the place of things as they are,

A composing of senses of the guitar.



It is the sun that shares our works.

The moon shares nothing.  It s a sea.


When shall I come to say of the sun,

It is a sea; it shares nothing;


The sun no longer shares our works

And the earth is alive with creeping men,


Mechanical beetles never quite warm?

And shall I then stand in the sun, as now


I stand in the moon, and call it good,

The immaculate, the merciful good,


Detached from us, from things as they are?

Not to be part of the sun?  To stand


Remote and call it merciful?

The strings are cold on the blue guitar.



The vivid, florid, turgid sky,

The drenching thunder rolling by,


The morning deluged still by night

The clouds tumultuously bright


And the feeling heavy in cold chords

Struggling toward impassioned choirs,


Crying among the clouds, enraged

By gold antagonists in air –


I know my lazy, leaden twang

Is like the reason in a storm;


And yet it brings the storm to bear.

I twang it out an leave it there.



And the color, the overcast blue

Of the air, in which the blue guitar


Is a form, described but difficult,

And I am merely a shadow hunched


Above the arrowy, still strings,

The maker of a thing yet to be made;


The color like a thought that grows

Out of a mood, the tragic robe


Of the actor, half his gesture, half

His speech, the dress of his meaning, silk


Sodden with his melancholy words,

The weather of his stage, himself.



Raise reddest columns.  Toll a bell

And clap the hollows full of tin.


Throw papers in the streets, the wills

Of the dead, majestic in their seals.


And the beautiful trombones – behold

The approach of him whom none believes,


Whom all believe that all believed,

A pagan in a varnished car.


Roll a drum upon the blue guitar.

Lean from the steeple.  Cry aloud,


“Here am I, my adversary, that

Confront you, hoo-ing the slick trombones,


Yet with a petty misery

At heart, a petty misery,


Ever the prelude to your end,

The touch that topples men and rock.”



Slowly the ivy on the stones

Becomes the stones.  Women become


The cities, children become the fields

And men in waves become the sea.


It is the chord that falsifies.

The sea returns upon the men,


The fields entrap the children, brick

Is a weed and all the flies are caught,


Wingless and withered, but living alive.

The discord merely magnifies.


Deeper with the belly’s dark

Of time, time grows upon the rock.

Quote WS


Tom-tom, c’est moi.  The blue guitar

And I are one,   The orchestra


Fills the high hall with shuffling men

High as the hall.  The whirling noise


Of a multitude dwindles, all said,

To his breath that leas awake at night.


I know that timid breathing.  Where

Do I begin and end?  And where,


As I strum the thing, do I pick up

That which momentously declares


Itself not to be I and yet

Must be.  It could be nothing else.



The pale intrusions into blue

Are corrupting pallors . . . ay di mi,


Blue buds or pitchy blooms.  Be content –

Expansions, diffusions – content to be


The unspotted imbecile revery,

The heraldic center of the world


Of blue, blue sleek with a hundred chins,

The amorist Adjective aflame . .  .



First one beam, then another, then

A thousand are radiant in the sky.


Each is both star and orb; and day

Is the riches of their atmosphere.


The sea appends its tattery hues.

The shores are banks of muffling mist.


One says a German Chandelier-

A candle is enough to light the world.


It makes it clear.  Even at noon

It glistens in essential dark.


At night, it lights the fruit and wine,

The book and bread, things as they are,


In a chiaroscuro where

One sits and plays the blue guitar.



Is this picture of Picasso’s, this “hoard

Of Destructions,” a picture of ourselves,


Now, an image of our society?

Do I sit, deformed, a naked egg,


Catching a Good-bye, harvest moon,

Without seeing the harvest or the moon?


Things as they are have been destroyed.

Have I?  Am I a man that is dead


At a table on which the food is cold?

Is my thought a memory, not alive?


Is the spot on the floor, there, wine or blood

And whichever it may be, is it mine?



The earth is not earth but a stone,

Not the mother that held men as they fell


But stone, but like a stone, no: not

The mother, but an oppressor, but like


An oppressor that grudges them their death,

As it grudges the living that they live.


To live in war, to live at war,

To chop the sullen psaltery.


To improve the sewers in Jerusalem,

To electrify the mimbuses –


Place honey on the alters and die,

You lovers that are bitter at heart.



The person has a mould.  But not

Its animal.  The angelic ones


Speak of the soul, the mind.  It is

An animal.  The blue guitar –


On that is claw propound, its fangs

Articulate its desert days.


The blue guitar a mould? That shell?

Well, after all, the north wind blows


A horn, on which its victory

Is a worm composing a straw.



A dream (to call it a dream) in which

I can believe,  in face of the object,


A dream no long a dream, a think

Of things as they are, as the blue guitar


After long strumming on certain nights

Gives the touch of the senses, not of the hand,


But the very sense as they touch

The wind-gloss.  Or as daylight comes,


Like light in a mirroring of cliffs,

Rising upward from a sea of ex.



That I may reduce the monster to

Myself, and then may be myself


In face of the monster, be more than part

Of it, more than the monstrous player of


One of its monstrous lutes, not be

Alone, but reduce the monster and be,


Two things, the two together as one,

And play of the monster and of myself,


Or better not of myself at all,

But of that as its intelligence,


Being the lion in the lute

Before the lion locked in stone.



What is there in life except one’s ideas,

Good air, good friend, what is there in life?


Is it ideas that I believe?

Good air, my only friend, believe,


Believe would be a brother full

Of love, believe would be friend,


Friendlier than my only friend,

Good air.  Poor pale, poor pale guitar. . .



A substitute for all the gods:

This self, not that gold self aloft,


Alone, one’s shadow magnified,

Lord of the body, looking down,


As now and called most high,

The shadow of Chocorua


In an immenser heaven, aloft,

Alone, lord of the land and lord


Of the men that live in the land, high lord.

One’s self and the mountains of one’s land,


Without shadows, without magnificence,

The flesh, the bone, the dirt, the stone.



Poetry is the subject of the poem,

From this the poem issues and


To this returns.  Between the two

Between issue and return, there is


An absence in reality,

Things as they are.  Or so we say.


But are these separate?  Is it

An absence for the poem, which acquires


Its true appearance there, sun’s green,

Cloud’s red, earth feeling, sky that thinks?


From these it takes.  Perhaps it gives,

In the universal intercourse.



A few final solutions, like a duet

With the undertaker:  A voice in the clouds,


Another on earth, the one a voice

Of ether, the other smelling of drink,


The voice of ether prevailing, the swell

Of the undertaker’s song in the snow


Apostrophizing wreaths, the voice

In the clouds serene and final, next


The grunted breath serene and final,

The imagined and the real, thought


And the truth, Dichtung and Wahrheit, all

Confusion solved, as in a refrain


One keeps on playing year by year.

Concerning the nature of things as they are.


Wallace Stevens

Wallace Stevens


A poem like a missal found

In the mud, a missal for that young man,


That scholar hungriest for that book,

The very book, or, less, a page


Or, at the least, a phrase, that phrase,

A hawk of life, that latined phrase:


To know; a missal for brooding-sight.

To meet that hawk’s eye and to flinch


Not at the eye but at the joy of it.

I play.  But this is what I think.



He held the world upon his nose

And this-a-way he gave a fling.


His robes and symbols, ai-yi-yi-

And that-a-way he twirled the thing.


Somber as fir-trees, liquid cats

Moved in the grass without a sound.


They did not know the grass went round.

The cats had cats and the grass turned gray


And the world had worlds, ai, this-a-way:

The grass turned green and the grass turned gray.


And the nose is eternal, that-a-way.

Things as they were, things as they are,


Things as they will be by and by . . .

A fat thumb beats out ai-yi-yi.



The world washed in his imagination,

The world was a shore, whether sound or form


Or light, the relic of farewells,

Rock the valedictory echoings,


To which his imagination retuned,

From which it sped, a bar in space,


San heaped in the clouds, giant that fought

Against the murderous alphabet:


The swarm of thoughts, the swarm of dreams

Of inaccessible Utopia.


A mountainous music always seemed

To be falling and to be passing away.



It is the sea that whitens the roof.

The sea drifts through the winter air.


It is the sea that the north wind makes.

The sea in the falling snow.


This gloom is the darkness of the sea.

Geographers and philosophers,


Regard.  But for that salty cup,

But for the icicles on the eaves-


The sea is a form of ridicule.

The iceberg settings satirize


The demon that cannot be himself,

That tours to shift the sifting scene.



I am a native in this world

And think in it as a native thinks,


Gesu, not native of a mind

Thinking the thoughts I call my own,


Native, a native in the world

And like a native think in it.


It could not be a mind, the wave

In which the watery grasses flow


And yet are fixed as a photograph,

The wind in which the dead leaves blow.


Here I inhale profounder strength

And as I am, I speak and move


And things are as I think they are

And say they are on the blue guitar.



In the cathedral, I sat there, and read,

Alone, a lean Review and said,


“These degustations in the vaults

Oppose the past and the festival


What is beyond the cathedral, outside,

Balances with nuptial song.


So it is to sit and to balance things

To and to and to the point of still,


To say of one mask it is like,

To say of another it is like,


To know that the balance does not quite rest,

That the mask is strange, however like.”


The shapes are wrong and the sounds are false.

The bells are the bellowing of bulls.


Yet Franciscan don was never more

Himself than in this fertile glass.

Book Cover WS


From this I shall evolve a man.

This is his essence:  the old fantoche


Hanging his shawl upon the wind,

Like something on the stage, puffed out,


His strutting studied through centuries.

At last, in spite of his manner, his eye


A-cock at the cross-piece on a pole

Supporting heavy cables, slung


Through Oxidia, banal suburb,

One-half of all its installments paid.


Dew-dapper clapper-traps, blazing

From Crusty stacks above machines.


Ecce, Oxidia is the seed

Dropped out of this amber-ember pod,


Oxidia is the soot of fire,

Oxidia is Olympia.



How long and late the pheasant sleeps. . .  .

The employer and employee contend,


Combat, compose their droll affair.

The bubbling sun will bubble up,


Spring sparkle and the cock-bird shriek.

The employer and employee will hear


And continue their affair.  The shriek

Will rack the thickets.  There is no place,


Here, for the lark fixed in the mind,

In the museum of the sky.  The cock


Will claw sleep.  Morning is not sun,

It is this posture of the nerves,


As if a blunted player clutched

The Nuances of the blue guitar.


It must be this rhapsody or none,

The rhapsody of things as they are.



Throw away the lights, the definitions,

And say of what you see in the dark


That it is this or that it that,

But do not use the rotted names.


How should you walk in that space and know

Nothing of the madness of space,


Nothing of its jocular procreations?

Throw the lights away.  Nothing must stand


Between you and the shapes you take

When the crust of Shape has been destroyed.


You as you are?  You are yourself.

The blue guitar surprises you.



That generation’s dream, aviled

In the mud, in Monday’s dirty light,


That’s it, the only dreams they knew,

Time in its final block, not time.


To come, a wrangling of two dreams.

Here is the bread of time to come,


Here is its actual stone.  The bread

Will be our bread, the stone will be


Our bed and we shall sleep by night.

We shall forget by day, except


The moment when we choose to play

The imagined pine, the imagined jay.

By Wallace Stevens