Jacques Prévert: To Paint A Picture Of A Bird

21 August 2018

First you paint a cage
With it’s door open
Then paint
Something nice
Something simple
Something lovely
Something useful
For the bird
Then set the canvas against a tree
In a garden
In a grove
Or in a forest
Hide behind the tree
Without speaking
Or moving…
Sometimes a bird arrives quickly
But equally it may take many years
Before it chooses to
Don’t be discouraged
Wait many years if needed
The speed or tardiness of its arrival
Has nothing to do
With the success of the picture
When the bird arrives
If it arrives
Observe the most profound silence
Wait till the bird enters the cage
And when it has
Gently close the door with your brush
Erase all the bars one by one
Taking care not to touch a feather of the bird
Then paint a picture of the tree
Choosing the loveliest branches
For the bird
Paint the green leaves too and the wind’s coolness
The dust in the sunlight
The sound of insects, in the grass, in the summer heat
Then wait for the bird to choose to sing
If the bird won’t sing
That’s an adverse sign
A sign that the painting is bad
But if it sings it’s a good sign
A sign you can sign your name
Then very gently you’ll detach
A feather from the bird
And write your name in a corner of the painting.

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