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To Painting: Poems (English and Spanish Edition)

ISBN13: 9780810113510
ISBN: 0810113511
Binding: Hardcover
List Price: $29.95
Publisher: Northwestern University Press
Published Date:
Pages: 249
Average Goodreads rating: 3.94/5 (8 ratings)

The only surviving member of the Generation of'27 -- a group of Spanish poets including Federico Garcia Lorca, Jorge Guillen, and Vicente Aleixandre, whose work brought about a literary renaissance in Madrid -- Raphael Alberti is one of the great poets of the twentieth century. To Painting, Alberti's first book to be translated into English, is the collection many critics consider his best. Each of the poems in this book is inspired by one of three different elements of painting: the painter, the colors, or the instruments used in creating the painting. The poems about color take the form of numbered lists, each item of which names either a use to which a certain painter has put the particular color, or a specific shade taken by the color in painting or in nature, or an association the poet has with the color. Sometimes the poems are written in Alberti's voice, but just as often it is the color addressing the reader, sketching its own self-portrait. The poems dedicated to the various tools a painter uses take the form of traditional sonnets. Each sonnet begins with the words "To you" and is written as a sort of extended toast to instruments like the paintbrush, the palette, proportion, and perspective. The third group of poems, those dedicated to painters, is dramatically varied. Almost every poem takes a different form, as Alberti imitates through his words the style of the painter he is addressing. "Giotto", for example, is written as a medieval lauda, while "Picasso" -- a tribute to Alberti's longtime friend and the painter to whom he dedicates this book -- is freeform, with words spaced over the page in an unconventional manner. In this bilingual edition, the poems in theiroriginal Spanish are presented alongside the English translations. Also included are 16 full-color reproductions of many of the paintings referred to in the poems, as well as extensive explanatory notes and annotations. A book of grand design and noble vision whose most compelling feature is nonetheless the beauty of its poetry, To Painting is a book not to be missed. Grace escapes, leaves a smile, and flees, painted undersail, the curve of a breeze, air like a drape with a lustrous sheen, quick, coming into shape, the winds in their cape, and over the sea, upon the sea, all is curling witchery, twirling curl & rippling wave; a geometric order carried to the border by uncooling winds that shower bird & flower in a geometric order; a border, a dancing line, the ballet of Spring.... -- from Botticelli