Our outgoing Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy is behind today’s Advent door, bringing with her one of her magnificent festive poems, Pablo Picasso’s Noel. Throughout this charming little book, beautifully illustrated by Léa Maupetit, we follow Pablo Picasso and his dog on an artistic journey around a small town in France on Christmas Eve. His voyage is punctuated, as so many festive celebrations are, by people, music and food. Our duo of man and dog spread joy and merriment wherever they go.
‘A sweet winter light blushed
as Pablo Picasso walked with his dog
under the cypress trees
and the bell of the old chapel guessed at the hour.
It was Christmas eve.’
Duffy manages to capture perfectly that beautiful stillness that we can sometimes feel on the night before Christmas, a moment of peace and reflection before the mayhem and festivities of the day ahead. Just as Advent makes everyday items and rituals in the days building up to Christmasspecial, Picasso adds a sprinkle of festive magic through the painting and drawing on his Christmas Eve journey. He paints objects, like plates and wineglasses, and people; a barmaid and a caroling musician. He paints a wall with the mural of a dove, a potent symbol of peace. Last of all he sketches the townsfolk as they troop into church for Midnight Mass and waits and watches as a young boy leads a lamb into the church for the Christmas service.
Through this short and sweet nugget of festive fun, Carol Ann Duffy and Pablo Picasso reminds us of the simple, everyday pleasures and joys of Christmas.