Of course, they look even better in a Sotis Filippides vase!
(LittleJerry: photo montage, Sept 1st, 2015. Wikimedia )
Look up and see, between the extant and
the dead, suspended, a Cetacean.
Hunted to nigh extinction by man’s hand:
whaling nations versus Leviathan.
‘Earth’s sustainability’ is our phrase;
her skeleton shows strength; fragility.
And still these awesome creatures strand in bays –
plastic, noise, our responsibility.
Across oceans we cannot hear their groans;
schools’ codes of subtle communication,
but in two hundred and twenty one bones,
can we detect syllabic salvation?
If ‘Hope’ becomes a symbol of respect,
destruction of our planet may be checked.
I posted this image of Samuel Beckett on my site last year.
It had quite a lot of ‘likes.’ I can prove it is my work as I
have the original painting.
Today I have been trawling through my site to find it
and it has disappeared. I wanted to show it to someone after
a photography programme on television last week mentioned
my friend, Jane Bown, who took the original photo, on which
I based my painting.
What’s going on, guys? It feels like it could be the subject of a
work of literature.
If anyone else can find it on my site, please let me know!
(The Parting of Sir Lancelot and Queen Guinevere
by Julia Margaret Cameron)
Since I live in the vicinity of Kelmscott now, here is an
old poem, re-blogged…
I raised a latch of a door in the wall
and immediately knew this was home.
The garden’s rosy superabundance
was a mille-fleurs embroidery stitching
raucous cawing of rooks from those high elms, the
swifts wheeling, doves’ cooing and blackbird song.
A mulberry tree was central. Pastel
hollyhocks nodded their welcome and men
scythed reeds and floated them down the river
under the willow trees’ gray-green flickers.
Lead waterspouts were limply supported
from the mellow masonry and woodworm
pricked the panelling. I felt not sadness,
but a beauty born of melancholy.
Leaving my charcoal overcoat downstairs,
I inspected the quaint garrets where once
tillers and herdsmen slept under the eaves.
The sloping floorboards creaked under my feet.
I realised she had never loved me.
How could she? Women are all shape-changers.
This house is an E with its tongue cut out,
so it will never prattle its scandal.
Betrayal’s woven in its tapestries:
Samson with his eyes gouged out for his love.
Please, dear Janey, be happy…I cannot
paint you, but I love you – and now leave you.
Some called it amitie amoureuse.
They dubbed me Guenevere, La Belle Iseult.
Once in this lost riverland, out of depth,
we drowned in our adulterous passion.
I heard carriages arriving at night,
so the cob’s harsh hooves had to be silenced
by leather shoes. I had no energy
when William was here, but took long walks
with Gabriel, who said our leaky punt
was not a poetic locomotion.
I keep my thoughts locked in my casket
in my bedroom. It was kind of Topsy
to bring me back that fine Icelandic smock.
Gabriel said it served his purposes well.
When they had Mouse the babes were not tiresome,
but Jenny’s impairment grows every day.
Tomorrow someone must trim the dragon.
In the studio I hear faint crying
over a stillborn child. He took chloral,
alcohol and would stay awake till five.
What was I to do with his exhumed verse?
Sir Lancelot had welded us as one.
I suppose I never loved him at all.
Tonight I left a pansy in Blunt’s room.
I am past sobbing that he does not come.
So, you went to Salisbury at the weekend?
Yes. To the ‘Celebrate Voice!’ Festival.
And heard what?
I sipped my Monk Pear tea. Schubert. Susan
Bullock, the Wagnerian soprano. She was singing
lieder. But I think that she was upstaged by the moon,
You can read my poem and decide for yourself.
Schubert in Salisbury
Our invisible feet traverse The Close
and we are shrouded in darkness. It’s there:
luminous, transcendent, yet immanent,
its sculpted details sharp in the moonlight.
Together, on this frosty evening,
our hearts ache from Schubert’s yearning lieder:
betrayal, grief, regret and bitterness.
Oh, farewell to the world- let them feel love;
they may thank you yet – sooner or later,
but tearfully– and probably too late.
In the medieval hall she sang to us
and we were insulated by the warmth,
the spotlit dais; the shiny Steinway.
Elbow to elbow, we brushed each other;
applauded to show solidarity.
But, propped up, in the great closed porch, a lone
cold, shadowy figure, tightly cocooned
in damp, lumpy bedding, breathes not a word.
The stone finger of God points to the sky,
as if to seal the lips of the divine.
Before us lies a man who has no voice,
but merely craves some heat from God’s stage door.
The singer did not bow to him tonight;
he did not hear the piano lid come down.
He falls asleep and hears the angels sing-
the spire above, his ladder up to Heaven.
And we, like Jacob, rooted to the earth,
wrestle and wrestle with our own demons.
The moon vanishes behind a dark cloud.
She sang: Und finster die Nacht, wie das Grab!*
The frozen sleeper turns onto his side
and we hurry, before the gates are locked.
*’and the night dark as the grave.’
cantadora, Catalan sausage, Clarissa Pinkola Estes, Cry Me A River, Cybele, Guernica, lacrymosa, Mater Dolorosa, Melbourne gallery, Picasso Dora Maar, saltimbanques, Semana Santa, Seville, suffering machine, torch song, unrequited love, Virgin of Guadalupe, Women Who Run With The Wolves
I like that song, ‘Cry Me A River’, Brassie said, meditatively.
Yes, it’s what is known as a ‘torch song’, I replied.
What is a ‘torch song’?
Oh, it’s based on the phrase about carrying a torch for someone.
You mean unrequited love? said Brassie.
Mmm. I used to think of those Cybele statues whenever I heard
that song, or cartoon characters spouting projectile tears.
Why are you bringing Cybele into it?
Oh, I just associate the over-production of breast milk with the over-
production of other body fluids, I suppose.
(Photo by Yair Haklai)
You’ve been going on about tears recently. I wonder why?
Well, I was just reading ‘Women Who Run With The Wolves… I began.
You would, interrupted Brassie. I wish she’d stop the annoying practice.
Read, or run? I countered.
Who wrote it? She ignores me!
Oh, someone called Clarissa Pinkola Estes.
Look of incomprehension.
She’s a Jungian psychoanalyst and cantadora. A woman who keeps old
stories. She wrote about tears in myths melting the icy heart. She reckons
that women cry to keep predators away. Tears mend rips in the psyche
and prevent one from sleeping and lowering one’s guard.
I would immediately think of the Picasso portrait of Dora Maar, Brassie
commented- quite astutely for her.
Woman as a ‘suffering machine’, according to Picasso. Did you know he
painted more than one version?
I think one was stolen from a gallery in Melbourne, wasn’t it?
Yes. They got it back, fortunately. He always claimed not to be repeating
the image through sadism and denied it gave him any kind of pleasure to
portray her like that. He just said that, for him, Dora was always a weeping
At least she went down in history for something, Brassie reflected. Oh, yes-
not ‘Dora was a first rate photographer.’ Just: ‘She was the one that
cried her eyes out.’
‘Maar’ is an interesting name. In the Old Testament the waters of Marah are
bitter and the name ‘Mary’ may be associated with tears. Jesus’ mother
certainly had plenty to cry about, didn’t she?
Oh yeah. ‘Mater Dolorosa’
Photo by Angel Cachon- Virgin of Guadalupe (Semana Santa, Seville)
Hmmm. Anyway, I tried to immortalise Dora Maar in a little poem I wrote
years ago. I discovered it during my cellar clear-out. Do you want to see it?
I might as well… (nothing like enthusiasm for one’s writing!)
Here! It’s a bit crumpled and I’ve edited it a bit, but there you go…
I tried to immortalise her too, I said, taking out my notebook. Along
with all his other weeping mistresses. But she will always be the arch
LADIES OF SORROW
I prematurely blossomed with rose-hued
saltimbanques. those dull, brutish critics gored
other artists, but I escaped attack:
a skilful matador…Who loved me best?
I’d say no woman, but my old friend, Braque.
When lovers left, they could, in truth, attest
I missed their dogs, more than I missed them. Did
I propose to Gaby? I don’t know. War,
its ghastly preoccupations, outbid
her for my attention. Yes, caviare
was Olga’s favourite; I preferred sausage-
Catalan, with beans. She wanted her face
recognisable; to be centre stage;
wanted too much from me, in any case.
Her image had by then begun to fade.
I was playing with Dora Maar (my mouse);
slashing Guernica with a razor blade,
careless of mistress, as careless of spouse.
Woman becomes a suffering machine.
When Nazis asked me: ‘Did you do this art?’
I replied: No. You did. When black with spleen,
Francoise and I could claw each other’s heart.
She who had resembled Venus became
Christ. Martyr. She left me – it was her loss.
She’d been expert at apportioning blame:
‘Who was it then who put me on the cross?’
I did, but, so doing, set them apart;
made them immortal in the realm of art.