To make a picture of a bird (Jacques Prevert)

Paint first a cage
with an open door
Paint then
something pretty
something simple
something useful
for the bird
Then put the canvas against a tree
in a garden
in a wood
or in a forest
Hidden behind a tree
without speaking
or moving....
Sometimes the bird comes quickly
but it can also take long years
before deciding
Do not be discouraged
awaiting if it is necessary for many years
the quickness or slowness of the bird's coming
not having anything to do
with the painting's success.
When the bird comes
if it comes
observe the greatest silence
waiting for the bird to enter the cage
and when it enters
slowly close the door with a brush
rub out one by one all the barriers
having taken care not to touch the bird's feathers
Then paint the tree
choosing the most beautiful branch
for the bird
Paint sun-dust
and sounds of boasts of the grass in summer heat
And then wait for the bird to decide to sing
If the bird does not sing
it's a bad sign
a sign that the picture is bad
But if it sings it's a good sign
a sign that you can sign
Then pluck very slowly
one of the bird's feathers
and write your name in the corner of the picture.

Translated from the French
(from Paroles)

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