Poetry Spoken and Sung

Baptism: A Journey Through Our Time was a 1968 album of poetry spoken and sung by Joan Baez.

Artwork by Robert Peak. Design by Jules Halfant

 

TRACK LISTING

Old Welsh Song” (Henry Treece)
2.”I Saw the Vision of Armies” (Walt Whitman)
3.”Minister of War” (Arthur Waley)
4.”Song In the Blood” (Lawrence Ferlinghetti/Jacques Prévert)
5.”Casida of the Lament” (J.L. Gili/Federico García Lorca)
6.”Of the Dark Past” (James Joyce)
7.”London” (William Blake)
8.”In Guernica” (Norman Rosten)
9.”Who Murdered the Minutes” (Henry Treece)
10.”Oh, Little Child” (Henry Treece)
11.”No Man Is an Island” (John Donne)
12.”Portrait of the Artist As a Young Man” (James Joyce)
13.”All the Pretty Little Horses” (traditional)
14.”Childhood III” (Arthur Rimbaud/Louis Varese)
15.”The Magic Wood” (Henry Treece)
16.”Poems from the Japanese” (Kenneth Rexroth)
17.”Colours” (P. Levi, R. Milner-Gulland, Yevgeny Yevtushenko)
18.”All in green went my love riding” (E. E. Cummings)
19.”Gacela of the Dark Death” (Federico García Lorca/Stephen Spender)
20.”The Parable of the Old Man and the Young” (Wilfred Owen)
21.”Evil” (N. Cameron/Arthur Rimbaud)
22.”Epitaph for a Poet” (Countee Cullen)
23.”Mystic Numbers- 36″
24.”When The Shy Star Goes Forth In Heaven” (James Joyce)
25.”The Angel” (William Blake)
26.”Old Welsh Song” (Henry Treece)

 

Joan Baez‘s most unusual album, Baptism is of a piece with the “concept” albums of the late ’60s, but more ambitious than most and different from all of them. Baez by this time was immersed in various causes, concerning the Vietnam War, the human condition, and the general state of the world, and it seemed as though every note of music that she sang was treated as important — sometimes in a negative way by her opponents; additionally, popular music was changing rapidly, and even rock groups that had seldom worried in their music about too much beyond the singer’s next sexual conquest were getting serious. Baptism was Baez getting more serious than she already was, right down to the settings of her music, and redirecting her talent from folk song to art song, complete with orchestral accompaniment. Naturally, her idea of a concept album would differ from that of, say, Frank Sinatra or The Beatles. Baptism was a body of poetry selected, edited, and read and sung by Baez, and set to music by Peter Schickele (better known for his comical musical “discoveries” associated with “P.D.Q. Bach,” but also a serious musician and composer). In 1968, amid the strife spreading across the world, the album had a built-in urgency that made it work as a mixture of art and message — today, it seems like a precious and overly self-absorbed period piece.

A clip of Whitman’s poem spoken by Joan Baez can be listened on The Genealogy of Style‘s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Genealogy-of-Style/597542157001228

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Sunflower

Kate Moss. Photo by Arthur Elgort for Vogue Italia, October 1992

 

TOURNESOL

“Tous les jours de la semaine
En hiver en automne
Dans le ciel de Paris
Les cheminées d’usines ne fument que du gris
Mais le printemps qui s’amène, une fleur sur l’oreille
Au bras une jolie fille
Tournesol
Tournesol
C’est le nom de la fleur
Le surnom de la fille
Elle n’a pas de grand nom
Pas de nom de famille
Et danse aux coins des rues
A Belleville
A Séville
Tournesol
Tournesol
Tournesol
Valse des coins des rues
Et les beaux jours sont venus
La belle vie avec eux
Le génie de la Bastille
Fume une gitane bleue
Dans le ciel amoureux
Dans le ciel de Séville
Dans le ciel de Belleville
Et même de n’importe où
Tournesol
Tournesol
C’est le nom de la fleur
Le surnom de la fille”

Jacques Prévert

 

___________________________

 

“Every day of the week
In winter and autumn
In Paris skies by day
The factory chimneys smoke only gray
But springtime arrives, a flower over his ear
On his arm a pretty girl
Sunflower Sunflower
That’s the name of the flower
The nickname of the girl
She has no first name, no last name either
Dances on the street corners
At Belleville and Seville
Sunflower Sunflower
Waltz of the street corners
And the sunny days come in
The sweet life with them
The genii of the Bastille smokes a blue cigarette
In the amorous air
Of the sky of Seville of the sky of Belleville
And even anywhere
Sunflower Sunflower Sunflower
It’s the name of the flower
The nickname of the girl”

Vincent’s Lament

“Vincent Van Gogh carried a ladder into a field of sunflowers, leaned it against a cloud and climbed to heaven”.
Photo by Duane Michals

 
 

“At Arles where rolls the Rhone
In the atrocious midday light
A man of phosphor and blood
Gives a haunting groan
Like a woman giving birth
And the man flees howling
Pursued by the sun
A sun of strident yellow
To a whorehouse near the Rhone
The man comes like a christmas king
With his absurd present
He has the blue and gentle look
The true mad lucid look
Of those who give life everything
Of those who are not jealous
And shows the poor child
His ear couched in the cloth
And she cries without understanding anything
Imagining sad omens
And looks without daring to take
The frightful tender shell
In which the moans of dead love
And the inhuman voices of art
Mix with the murmurs of the sea
And die on the tiling
In the room where the red eiderdown
Of a sudden bursting red
Blends this red so red
With the much more redder blood
Of half-dead Vincent
And wise as the very image
Of misery and love
The nude child all alone and ageless
Looks upon poor Vincent
Stricken by his own storm
Which spreads on the tile
Onto his most beautiful painting
And the storm runs out indifferent
Rolling before it its great barrels of blood
The dazzling storm of Vincent’s genius
And Vincent stays there sleeping waking croaking
And the sun over the whorehouse
Like a mad orange in a nameless desert
The sun on Arles
Howling turns around.”

Jacques Prévert

Poetic Embroidery

 

Dedicated to my blogger friend Kate Davies: http://fabrickated.com/

 

 

The detail was breathtaking: lace embroidered with phrases from Jacques Prevert‘s This Love in Luneville stitch like calligram poems by Guillaume Apollinaire, the embellished bust of a corset with Latin phrases taken from eclogues by Virgil,  and gold lamé representing DanteAlighieri‘s Divine Comedy, which required 1700 hours of work. For the Valentino haute couture Spring/Summer 2015 collection, Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pier Paolo Piccioli wanted to enhance and embellish love itself; translating the strongest of human sentiments into a language of dresses. Through embroidery, lamé, ciphers, verses, motifs, the design duo recreated the words of the great poets and writers, from Dante to Prévert through to Pasolini and Virgil. The couture masterpieces required up to two months of work and 2,500 hours of embroidery by the house’s master craftsmen to create the works of art presented at the Hotel Salomon de Rothschild, to the sound of Moments in Love from Art of Noise

 
 

“Tutto il mio folle amore, lo soffia il ciela”. White tulle cloud dress, hand-painted in grey and embroidered with vermeil colored lame.
Inspired by the song Che cosa sono le nuvole?, lyrics by Pier Paolo Pasolini and composed by Domenico Mondugno.
2.500 hours of embroidery

 
 

“Cet Amour, c’est le tien, c’est le mien”. White silver tulle cloud dress embroidered with Chantilly and jet calligrams.
Lace overlay of the Jacques Prevert poem Cet Amour from 1945, picked out in luneville embroidery, in the spirit of a Calligram by Guillaume Appolinaire in 1918.
2,000 hours of embroidery

 
 

Canzone dell”Amore perduto powder-coloured tulle cloud dress, embroidered with wilted flowers. Overlay of wilted flower petals of painted chiffon, inspired by the lyrics from Canzone dell’Amore perduto by Fabrizio De Andrè (1974)

 
 


Amor Vincit Omnia, embroidered garnet linen corset, with dusty tulle skirts.
Corset embroidered with a Latin phrase from Virgil’s Les Bucoliques (Eclogues):

“Omnia vincit Amor; et nos cedamus Amori.” (Love conquers all and we must yield to Love.)
Book X, line 69 (Dryden).

 

Broken Mirror

Juliette Gréco in Crack in the Mirror (Richard Fleischer, 1960)

 

LE MIROIR BRISÉ

“Le petit homme qui chantait sans cesse
le petit homme qui dansait dans ma tête
le petit homme de la jeunesse
a cassé son lacet de soulier
et toutes les baraques de la fête
tout d’un coup se sont écroulées
et dans le silence de cette fête
j’ai entendu ta voix heureuse
ta voix déchirée et fragile
enfantine et désolée
venant de loin et qui m’appelait
et j’ai mis ma main sur mon coeur
où remuaient
ensanglantés
les septs éclats de glace de ton rire étoilé.”

Jacques Prévert

 

___________________________________

 

“That small man who always sang
That small man who danced in my head
That small man with youth
Undid his shoelaces
And broke all the barracks of the festival
Suddenly everything collapsed
And in the silence of the festival
In the ruin of the festival
I heard your happy voice
Your voice so torn and fragile
Innocent and desolate
Came from afar and called me
And I put my hands on my chest
where they trembled bloody
Seven broken pieces of mirror
with your twinkling smile.”

Picasso’s Promenade

Photograph by Chema Madoz

 
 

“On a very round plate of real porcelain
an apple poses
face to face with it
a painter of reality
vainly tries to paint
the apple as it is
but
the apple won’t allow it
the apple
it has its word to say about it
and several tricks in its bag of apples
and there it is turning
on its real plate
artfully on itself
blandly without budging
and like a Duc de Guise who disguises himself as a gas duct
because they want to draw his portrait against his will
the apple disguises itself as a beautiful fruit in disguise
and it’s then
that the painter of reality
begins to realize
that all the appearances of the apple are against him
and
like the unfortunate pauper
like the poor pauper who finds himself suddenly at the mercy
of no matter what benevolent and charitable and redoubtable
association of benevolence charity and redoubtability
the unfortunate painter of reality
then suddenly finds himself the sad prey
of a numberless crowd of associations of ideas
And the apple turning evokes the apple tree
the earthly Paradise and Eve and then Adam
a watering-can a trellis Parmentier a stairway
Canadian Hesperidian Norman apples Reinette apples and Appian apples
the serpent of the Tennis Court and the Oath of Apple Juice
and original sin
and the origins of art
and Switzerland with William Tell
and even Isaac Newton
several times prizewinner at the Exhibition of Universal Gravitation
and the dazed painter loses sight of his model
and falls asleep
It’s just then that Picasso
who’s going by there as he goes by everywhere
every day as if at home
sees the apple and the plate and the painter fallen asleep
What an idea to paint an apple
says Picasso
and Picasso eats the apple
and the apple tells him Thanks
and Picasso breaks the plate
and goes off smiling
and the painter drawn from his dreams
like a tooth
finds himself all alone again before his unfinished canvas
with right in the midst of his shattered china
the terrifying pips of reality.”

Jacques Prévert

Wrestling with The Angel

The Falling Angel, Duane Michals, 1968

 
 

LE COMBAT AVEC L’ANGE

N’y va pas
tout est combiné d’avance
le match est truqué
et quand il apparaîtra sur le ring
environné d’éclairs de magnésium
ils entonneront à tue-tête le Te Deum
et avant même que tu te sois levé de ta chaise
ils te sonneront les cloches à toute volée
ils te jetteront à la figure l’éponge sacrée
et tu n’auras pas le temps de lui voler dans les plumes
ils se jetteront sur toi
et il te frappera au-dessous de la ceinture
et tu t’écrouleras
les bras stupidement en croix
dans la sciure
et jamais plus tu ne pourras faire l’amour.

Jacques Prévert

 
 

____________________________________________

 
 

“Don’t bother
The fight’s fixed
The match is rigged
and when he or she or it appears aloft above the ring
surrounded by spotlights
they’ll all start singing Te Deum
and even before you have the chance to get up from your little
chair in the corner
their gong will sound
they’ll throw their sacred sponge in your eyes
And you won’t even get in a quick jab to the feathers
before they all grab you
and he or she or it will hit you below the belt
and you’ll fall flat
arms stuck out stiff in an idiotic cross
outstretched in the sawdust
and you may never again be able to make love.”

The Great Man

Atelier de sculpture des beaux arts de Paris, Émile Savitry, 1939

 
 

LE GRAND HOMME

Chez une tailleur de pierre

où je l’ai rencontré

il faisait prendre ses mesures

pour la postérité.

Jacques Prévert

 
 

__________________________

 
 

In a stonemason

where I met him

he was taking his measures

for posterity.

The Car That Melted

La voiture fondue (The Car That Melted), Robert Doisneau, 1944

 
 

“…le soleil est un citron vert
Et la Misère
dans sa voiture vide
traînée par trois enfants trop blonds
traverse les décombres
et s’en va vers la mer…”

Jacques Prévert

Cheveux Noirs (fragment)

 
 

___________________________

 
 

The sun is a green lemon
And the misery
in its empty car
trailed by three overly blonde children
crossing the ruins
and marching to the sea…”

Black Hair

Jean Cocteau and Juliette Gréco on the set of Orphée, 1950

 
 

CHEVEUX NOIRS

“Cheveux noirs cheveux noirs

caressés par les vagues

cheveux noirs cheveux noirs

décoiffés par le vent

Le brouillard de septembre

flotte derrière les arbres…”

Jacques Prévert

 
 

______________________

 
 

“Black hair, black hair,

Caressed by the waves

Black hair, black hair

Uncombed by the wind

September fog

Floats behind the trees…”

Breakfast

Juliette Gréco

 
 

DÉJEUNER DU MATIN

Il a mis le cafe
Dans la tasse
Il a mis le lait
Dans la tasse de cafe
Il a mis le sucre
Dans le cafe au lait
Avec la petite cuiller
Il a tourne
Il a bu le cafe au lait
Et il a repose la tasse
Sans me parler
Il a allume
Une cigarette
Il a fait des ronds
Avec la fumee
Il a mis les cendres
Dans le cendrier
Sans me parler
Sans me regarder
Il s’est leve
Il a mis
Son chapeau sur sa tete
Il a mis
Son manteau de pluie
Parce qu’il pleuvait
Et il est parti
Sous la pluie
Sans une parole
Et moi j’ai pris
Ma tete dans ma main
Et j’ai pleure.

Jacques Prévert

 
 

____________________________

 
 

He poured the coffee
Into the cup
He poured the milk
Into the cup of coffee
He added the sugar
To the coffee and milk
He stirred it
With a teaspoon
He drank the coffee
And put back the cup
Without speaking to me
He lit a cigarette
He blew some rings
With the smoke
He flicked the ashes
Into the ashtray
Without speaking to me
Without looking at me
He got up
He put his hat
On his head
He put on
His raincoat
Because it was raining
He went out
Into the rain
Without a word
Without looking at me
And I
I took my head
In my hands
And I wept

To watch a short film by Emmanuel Tenenbaum, which was inspired by this Prévert’s poem, please take a gander at The Genealogy of Style’s Facebook page:https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Genealogy-of-Style/597542157001228

I Am as I Am

Juliette Gréco photographed by Karl Bissinger, 1948

 
 

Portrait of Juliette Gréco, 1950s

 
 

Juliette Gréco and Miles Davis. Photo by Jean-Philippe Charbonnier

 
 

JE SUIS COMME JE SUIS

“Je suis comme je suis
Je suis faite comme ça
Quand j’ai envie de rire
Oui je ris aux éclats
J’aime celui qui m’aime
Est-ce ma faute à moi
Si ce n’est pas le même
Que j’aime chaque fois
Je suis comme je suis
Je suis faite comme ça
Que voulez-vous de plus
Que voulez-vous de moi

Je suis faite pour plaire
Et n’y puis rien changer
Mes talons sont trop hauts
Ma taille trop cambrée
Mes seins beaucoup trop durs
Et mes yeux trop cernés
Et puis après
Qu’est-ce que ça peut vous faire
Je suis comme je suis
Je plais à qui je plais
Qu’est-ce que ça peut vous faire
Ce qui m’est arrivé
Oui j’ai aimé quelqu’un
Oui quelqu’un m’a aimée
Comme les enfants qui s’aiment
Simplement savent aimer
Aimer aimer…
Pourquoi me questionner
Je suis là pour vous plaire
Et n’y puis rien changer.”

Jacques Prévert

 
 

__________________________________

 
 

“I am as I am
I’m made that way
When I want to laugh
Yes I erupt with laughter
I love the one that loves me
Is it my fault
If it’s not the same one
That I love each time
I am as I am
I’m made that way
What more do you want
What do you want from me

I’m made for pleasure
And nothing can change that
My heels are too high
My figure too curved
My breasts way too firm
And my eyes too darkly ringed
And then afterwards
What can you do about it
I am as I am
I please who I please
What can you do about it

What happened to me
Yes I loved someone
Yes someone loved me
Like children love each other
Simply knowing how to love
Love love…
Why ask me
I’m here for your pleasure
And nothing can change that.”

 

To listen to this poem set to music, please take a gander at The Genealogy of Style‘s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Genealogy-of-Style/597542157001228?ref=hl

First Day

Bella and Ida by The Window, Marc Chagall, 1916

 
 

PREMIER JOUR

“Des draps blancs dans une armoire
Des draps rouges dans un lit
Un enfant dans sa mère
Sa mère dans les douleurs
Le père dans le couloir
Le couloir dans la maison
La maison dans la ville
La ville dans la nuit
La mort dans un cri
Et l’enfant dans la vie.”

Jacques Prévert

 
 

_______________________________

 
 

“White sheets in a closet
Red sheets on a bed
A child in its mother
The mother in agony
The father in the hallway
The hallway
in the house
The house in the town
The town in the night
Death in a cry
And the child in life”