Treasure Island

Jean Cocteau

(5 July 1889 – 11 October 1963 / Maisons-Laffitte, Yvelines)

Preamble (A Rough Draft For An Ars Poetica)


...Preamble

A rough draft
for an ars poetica

. . . . . . .

Let's get our dreams unstuck

The grain of rye
free from the prattle of grass
et loin de arbres orateurs

I

plant

it

It will sprout


But forget about
the rustic festivities

For the explosive word
falls harmlessly
eternal through
the compact generations

and except for you

nothing
denotates

its sweet-scented dynamite

Greetings
I discard eloquence
the empty sail
and the swollen sail
which cause the ship
to lose her course

My ink nicks
and there

and there

and there

and
there

sleeps
deep poetry

The mirror-paneled wardrobe
washing down ice-floes
the little eskimo girl

dreaming
in a heap
of moist negroes
her nose was
flattened
against the window-pane
of dreary Christmases

A white bear
adorned with chromatic moire

dries himself in the midnight sun

Liners

The huge luxury item

Slowly founders
all its lights aglow

and so
sinks the evening-dress ball
into the thousand mirrors
of the palace hotel

And now
it is I

the thin Columbus of phenomena
alone
in the front
of a mirror-paneled wardrobe
full of linen
and locking with a key

The obstinate miner
of the void
exploits
his fertile mine

the potential in the rough
glitters there
mingling with its white rock

Oh
princess of the mad sleep
listen to my horn
and my pack of hounds

I deliver you
from the forest
where we came upon the spell

Here we are
by the pen
one with the other
wedded
on the page

Isles sobs of Ariadne

Ariadnes
dragging along
Aridnes seals

for I betray you my fair stanzas
to
run and awaken
elsewhere

I plan no architecture

Simply
deaf
like you Beethoven

blind
like you
Homer
numberless old man

born everywhere

I elaborate
in the prairies of inner
silence

and the work of the mission
and the poem of the work
and the stanza of the poem
and the group of the stanza
and the words of the group
and the letters of the word
and the least
loop of the letters

it's your foot
of attentive satin
that I place in position
pink
tightrope walker
sucked up by the void

to the left to the right
the god gives a shake
and I walk
towards the other side
with infinite precaution



Submitted by Linda M. Gibbs

Submitted: Monday, January 13, 2003

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Read poems about / on: mirror, poem, pink, work, poetry, girl, silence, sleep, alone, sun, god, wedding, running, dream, lost

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  • Martin Turner (10/15/2006 4:49:00 AM)

    This poem is wholly rebarbative in its present form. I love Cocteau dearly, and have done since my teens, but he seems to be a poet at all times except when writing poetry.

    I have wrestled with these unpromising materials in what follows. Have I tamed the poem yet?

    Martin.

    Preamble A rough draft for an ars poetica.

    Let's get our dreams unstuck. The grain of rye free from the prattle of grass
    and far from the speechifying trees. I plant it – it will sprout.
    But forget about the rustic festivities. For the explosive word
    falls harmlessly eternal through the compact generations
    and except for you nothing denotes its sweet-scented dynamite.

    Greetings: I discard eloquence, the empty sail and the swollen sail
    which cause the ship to lose her course.
    My ink nicks; and there and there, and there and there, sleeps deep poetry:
    the mirror-panelled wardrobe washing down ice-floes,
    the little Eskimo girl dreaming in a heap of moist negroes,
    her nose flattened against the window-pane of dreary Christmases,
    a white bear adorned with chromatic moiré dries himself in the midnight sun.

    Liners. The huge luxury item slowly founders, all its lights aglow.
    And so sinks the evening-dress ball into the thousand mirrors of the palace hotel.
    And now it is I, the thin Columbus of phenomena, alone in the front
    of a mirror-panelled wardrobe full of linen and locked with a key.
    The obstinate miner of the void exploits his fertile mine –
    the potential in the rough glitters there mingling with its white rock.

    Oh princess of the mad sleep, listen to my horn and my pack of hounds.
    I deliver you from the forest where we came upon the spell.
    Here we are, by the pen, one with the other wedded on the page.
    Isles, sobs of Ariadne, Ariadnes dragging along Ariadnes, seals,
    for I betray you, my fair stanzas, to run and awaken elsewhere.
    I plan no architecture. Simply deaf like you, Beethoven,
    blind like you, Homer, numberless old men born everywhere,

    I elaborate in the prairies of inner silence and the work of the mission
    and the poem of the work and the stanza of the poem and the group of the stanza
    and the words of the group and the letters of the word and the least loop of the letters.
    It's your foot of attentive satin that I place in position,
    pink tightrope walker, sucked up by the void, to the left, to the right.
    The god gives a shake and I walk towards the other side with infinite precaution.

    Jean Cocteau. (Report) Reply

Read all 1 comments »

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