Another book addition to the micromuseum catalogue. This one dates from 1977 and is a beguiling publication. I had this book lying around (on top of a fender twin reverb to be precise) because I was going to do this post about it and a friend was round and she kept being drawn to it. It’s a poem illustrated with artwork. The poem is quite long and is by Wallace Stevens. Its inspiration was Picasso‘s painting vieux guitariste aveugle. Stevens’ poem is called The Man With The Blue Guitar and Hockney’s etchings are entitled The Blue Guitar. The project was devised by Hockney in the summer of 1976 while he was on holiday on Fire Island, New York.
To give some sort of notion of the book I have selected a few random clips of verse and scanned 3 of the illustrations. The concept of a great poem illustrated by great art is a strong one. There are probably some other books like that around, I will investigate, but if there are I can’t imagine that any could be better than this. I’ll let you know.
Things as they are have been destroyed
Have I? Am I a man that is dead
At a table at which the food is cold?
Is my thought a memory, not alive?
Slowly the ivy on the stones
Becomes the stones. Women become
The cities, children become the fields
And men in waves become the sea.
Dew-dapper clapper-traps, blazing
From crusty stacks above machines.
Ecce, Oxidia is the seed
Dropped out of this amber-ember pod,
Oxidia is the soot of fire,
Oxidia is Olympia.
Finally, these are the last words of the book.