Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Until there be no Guernicas left

I'd like to thank the commenter, Monica, for pointing the way to this poem after reading my post about Guernica, art, and suffering:

COVER-UPSSlaughter of Innocents

Pablo Picasso has words for Colin Powell from the other side of death
Ariel Dorfman
Sunday, March 9, 2003

Yes, even here, here more than anywhere else,
we know and watch what is going on
what you are doing with the world
we left behind
What else can we do with our time?
Yes, there you were, Mr. Secretary,
I think that is how they call you
there you were
standing in front of my Guernica
a replica it is true
but still my vision of what was done
that day to the men to the women
and to the children to that one child
in Guernica that day in 1937
from the sky
Not really standing in front of it.
It had been covered, our Guernica,
covered so you could speak.
There in the United Nations building.
So you could speak about Iraq.
Undisturbed by Guernica.
Why should it disturb perturb you?
Why did you not ask that the cover
be removed
the picture
be revealed?
Why did you not point to the shrieking
the horse dying over and over again
the woman with the child forever dead
the child that I nurse here in this darkness
the child who watches with me
as you speak
and you speak.
Why did you not say
This is why we must be rid of the dictator.
Why did you not say
This is what Iraq has already done and undone.
Why did you not say
This is what we are trying to save the world from.
Why did you not use
Guernica to make your case?
Were you afraid that the mother
would leap from her image and say
no he is the one
they are the ones who will bomb
from afar
they are the ones who will kill
the child
no no no
he is the one they them
from the distance the bombs
keeping us always out of sight
inside death and out of sight
Were you afraid that the horse
would show the world the near future
three thousand cruise missiles in the first hour
spinning into Baghdad
ten thousand Guernicas
spinning into Baghdad
from the sky
Were you afraid of my art
what I am still saying
more than sixty five years later
the story still being told
the vision still dangerous
the light bulb still hanging
like an eye from the dead
my eye that looks at you from the dead
beware
beware the eye of the child
in the dark
you will join us
the child and I
the horse and the mother
here on the other side
you will join us soon
you will journey here
as we all do
is that why you were
so afraid of me?
join us
and spend the rest of eternity
watching
watching
watching
next to us
next to the remote dead
not only of Iraq
not only of
is that why you were
so afraid of that eye?
watching
your own eyes sewn open wide looking
at the world you left behind
there is nothing else to do
with our time
sentenced to watch
and watch
by our side
until there will be no Guernicas left
until the living understand
and then, Mr. Secretary,
and then
a world with no Guernicas
and then
yes then
you and I
yes then
we can rest
you and I and the covered child

Ariel Dorfman's latest books are "Exorcising Terrror: The Incredible Ongoing Trial of General Augusto Pinochet" and the poems, "In Case of Fire in a Foreign Land (Duke University Press)." He has just completed a play about Picasso during the Nazi occupation of Paris.

http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/chronicle/archive/2003/03/09/IN201026.DTL

2 comments:

ggw07 said...

http://www.poets.org/viewmedia.php/prmMID/5904

The politician wants men to know how to die courageously;
the poet wants men to live courageously.
—Italian poet Salvatore Quasimodo, Nobel lecture, 1959

Gretchen

ggw07 said...

re. Picasso on Guernica-
Picasso said as he worked on the mural:

“ The Spanish struggle is the fight of reaction against the people, against freedom. My whole life as an artist has been nothing more than a continuous struggle against reaction and the death of art. How could anybody think for a moment that I could be in agreement with reaction and death? ... In the panel on which I am working, which I shall call Guernica, and in all my recent works of art, I clearly express my abhorrence of the military caste which has sunk Spain in an ocean of pain and death.[1] ”
from wikipedia.com
Gretchen

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