TRANSLATOR’S NOTE. While Pierre Joris and I were translating and putting together Picasso’s Burial of the Count of Orgaz & Other Poems (2004), I began a translation of Les Quatre Petites Filles, the second of the two full-length plays Picasso wrote in the 1940s.
Translation from French by Jerome Rothenberg.
The scene — a vegetable garden almost smack in its center a well.
four little girls singing — we’re not gonna go to the woods no more the laurel trees are down on the floor hey the beautiful babe will go pick them up then we’ll come out to dance hey just like they dance oh you sing dance and hug anybody you want
“Nocturno III” comes from an unusual extension of voice that even visually creates an unseen pattern of lines. One can sense in Silva’s “night” the process of contacting his underworld and the intermittent flow and rupture derived from this contact. It is a chant to the night and to the obscure unity of a mysterious duality that does not lead to death, but is death itself. This poem in particular possesses a structure that would reappear (reinvented) in some of Neruda’s pieces, for example, but most importantly it deals with an alliance to obscurity and a dialect of rhythm and breakage, sound and visual play, that is still haunting.
Translations from Spanish by Jerome Rothenberg
A night thick with perfumes, with whispers and music, with wings,
A sunrise, the sun’s course, a sunset are marvelous to no one because they occur daily. But solar eclipses are a source of wonder because they occur seldom, and indeed are more marvelous than lunar eclipses, because these are more frequent. Thus nature shows that she is not aroused by the common ordinary event, but is moved by a new and striking occurrence. Let art, then, imitate nature, find what she desires, and follow as she directs. — Frances Yates, The Art of Memory