Wednesday, February 28, 2007

The Red School House, 1873
Winslow Homer

Monday, February 26, 2007

Pablo Neruda

The Queen

I have named you queen.
There are taller ones than you, taller.
There are purer ones than you, purer.
There are lovelier ones than you, lovelier.

But you are the queen.

When you go through the streets
no one recognizes you.
No one sees your crystal crown, no one looks
at the carpet of red gold
that you tread as you pass,
the nonexistent carpet.

And when you appear
all the rivers sound
in my body, bells
shake the sky,
and a hymn fills the world.

Only you and I,
only you and I, my love,
listen to it.

Your Hands

When your hands go out,
love, toward mine,
what do they bring me flying?
Why did they stop
at my mouth, suddenly,
why do I recognize them
as if then, before,
I had touched them,
as if before they existed
they had passed over
my forehead, my waist?

Their softness came
flying over time,
over the sea, over the smoke,
over the spring,
and when you placed
your hands on my chest,
I recognized those golden
dove wings,
I recognized that clay
and that color of wheat.

All the years of my life
I walked around looking for them.
I went up the stairs,
I crossed the roads,
trains carried me,
waters brought me,
and in the skin of the grapes
I thought I touched you.
The wood suddenly
brought me your touch,
the almond announced to me
your secret softness,
until your hands
closed on my chest
and there like two wings
they ended their journey.

from Autumn Testament


at last he turns in ecstasy to his love

Matilde Urrutia, I'm leaving you here
all I had, all I didn't have,
all I am, all I am not.
My love is a child crying,
reluctant to leave your arms,
I leave it to you for ever -
you are my chosen one.

You are my chosen one,
more tempered by winds
than thin trees in the south,
a hazel in August;
for me you are as delicious
as a great bakery.
You have an earth heart
but your hands are from heaven.

You are red and spicy,
you are white and salty
like pickled onions,
you are a laughing piano
with every human note;
and music runs over me
from your eyelashes and your hair.
I wallow in your gold shadow,
I'm enchanted by your ears
as though I had seen them before
in underwater coral.
In the sea for your nails' sake,
I took on terrifying fish.

Your eyes widen from south to south,
your smile goes east and west;
your feet can hardly be seen,
and the sun takes pleasure
in dawning in your hair.
Your face and your body come from
hard places, as I do,
from rain-washed rituals,
ancient lands and martyrs.
The Bio-Bio still sings
in our bloodstained clay,
but you brought from the forest
every secret scent,
and the way your profile has of shining
like a lost arrow,
an old warrior's medal.
You overcame me
with love and origins,
because your mouth brought back
ancient beginnings,
forest meetings from another time,
dark ancestral drums.
I suddenly heard myself summoned -
it was far away, vague.
I moved close to ancient foliage,
I touched my blood in your mouth,
dear love, my Araucana.

What can I leave you, Matilde,
when you have at your touch
that aura of burning leaves,
that fragrance of strawberries,
and between your sea-breasts
the half-light of Cauquenes,
and the laurel-smell of Chile?

It is high autumn at sea,
full of mists and hidden places;
the land stretches and breathes,
leaves fall by the month.
And you, bent over my work,
with both passion and patience,
deciphering the green prints,
the spiderwebs, the insects
of my fateful handwriting.
Lioness on your little feet,
what would I do without
the neat ways of your hands?
Where would I be wandering
with no heart, with no end?
On what faraway buses,
flushed with fire or snow?

I owe you marine autumn
with dankness at its roots
and fog like a grape
and the graceful sun of the country;
and the silent space
in which sorrows lose themselves
and only the bright crown
of joy comes to the surface.
I owe you it all,
my unchained dove,
my crested quail,
my mountain finch,
my peasant from Coihueco.

Sometime when we've stopped being,
stopped coming and going,
under seven blankets of dust
and the dry feet of death,
we'll be close again, love,
curious and puzzled.
Our different feathers,
our bumbling eyes,
our feet which didn't meet
and our printed kisses,
all will be back together,
but what good will it do us,
the closeness of the grave?
Let life not separate us;
and who cares about death?


Pablo Neruda

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Woman's Head, c. 1910
Constantin Brancusi

Friday, February 23, 2007

Yellow Dancers (In the Wings), 1874-76
Edgar Degas

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Here and Now, 1997
Ed Ruscha

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

some ask praise of their fellows
but i being otherwise
made compose curves
and yellows, angles or silences
to a less erring end)

myself is a sculptor of
your body's idiom:
the musician of your wrists;
the poet who is afraid
only to mistranslate

a rhythm in your hair,
(your fingertips
the way you move)


painter of your voice--
beyond these elements

remarkably nothing is. . . . therefore,lady
am i content should any
by me carven thing provoke
your gesture possibly or

any painting (for its own
reason) in your lips
slenderly should create one least smile
if a poem should lift to
me the distinct country of your
eyes, gifted with green twilight)

e. e. cummings

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Portrait of Violette Heyman, 1909
Odilon Redon

Sunday, February 11, 2007

She Tells Her Love While Half Asleep

She tells her love while half asleep,
In the dark hours,
With half-words whispered low:
As Earth stirs in her winter sleep
And puts out grass and flowers
Despite the snow,
Despite the falling snow.

Like Snow

She, then, like snow in a dark night
Fell secretly. And the world waked
With dazzling of the drowsy eye,
So that some muttered 'Too much light',
And drew the curtains close.
Like snow, warmer than fingers feared,
And to soil friendly;
Holding the histories of the night
In yet unmelted tracks.

Robert Graves

Thursday, February 8, 2007

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Two poems by Li Po

Jade-Staircase Grievance

Night long on the jade staircase, white
dew appears, soaks through gauze stockings.

She lets down crystalline blinds, gazes out
through jewel lacework at the autumn moon.

Thoughts Of You Unending

Thoughts of you unending
here in Ch'ang-an,

crickets where the well mirrors year-end golds cry out
autumn, and under a thin frost, mats look cold, ice-cold.

My lone lamp dark, thoughts thickening, I raise blinds
and gaze at the moon. It renders the deepest lament

empty. But you're lovely as a blossom born of cloud,

skies opening away all bottomless azure above, clear
water all billows and swelling waves below. Skies endless

for a spirit in sad flight, the road over hard passes
sheer distance, I'll never reach you, even in dreams,

my ruins of the heart,
thoughts of you unending.

Li Po
c. 742-755

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Portrait of Camille Claudel
c. 1884

La Valse
Camille Claudel

Monday, February 5, 2007

Georgia O'Keeffe, 1918
Alfred Stieglitz

Although Bertha Young was thirty she still had moments like this when she wanted to run instead of walk, to take dancing steps on and off the pavement, to bowl a hoop, to throw something up in the air and catch it again, or to stand still and laugh at--nothing--at nothing, simply.

What can you do if you are thirty and, turning the corner of your own street, you are overcome, suddenly, by a feeling of bliss--absolute bliss!--as though you'd suddenly swallowed a bright piece of that late afternoon sun and it burned in your bosom, sending out a little shower of sparks into every particle, into every finger and toe?. .

from "Bliss"
Katherine Mansfield