From My Commonplace Book - 58

from Red

by Rafael Alberti

I am morning's first color
day's last.

I wrestle with green in fruit; I win.

With my brothers, I submitted to the rigors
-- Giotto -- of geometric rigor.

I congeal when my being
solidifies in black.

Indistinct in certain nudes,
diluted by the snow.

Purple through glass:
goblets, bottles, tumblers
warm with wine.

Come to me cadmium yellow: I want to be an orange,
a lustrous sphere amidst the green.

In Goya, I am diluted by the air.

All the way down to the rose rose of Picasso.

Think how I'm lost in the tiniest violet.

Rafael Alberti (Spanish, 1901-1999) early on gave up painting to devote himself to writing. Following Franco's victory in the Civil War, he fled to Argentina where he made his home for many years. He also lived in various countries in Europe before returning to Spain in 1977. The poem "Red," as excerpted here, I found in Robert Hass's The Poet's Choice Column, 1997-2000. The full poem is in To Painting: Poems by Rafael Alberti.


What can one say Merry but yes - I am trhe morning's first colour - as the song goes - morning has broken like the first morning, blackbird has spoken like the first bird (despite my moans) - joyous like the nursery children singing as they go to school - perhaps they know more than we do.

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