Sunday, December 16, 2012

for sunday:

After a weekend that defied answers, we're trying to look for those halos--those inexhaustible beauties-- among the entanglements and poison and ugly undergrowth.  

Nymphéas, reflets de saule by Claude Monet

"The several years after 1908 were bad ones for Monet. His wife died, then one of his two sons, and his second son became gravely ill. World War I commenced and stretched out agonizingly. He was haunted by professional anxieties, crises of confidence... Once Monet’s art was all about light; now it seems to be about darkness, or light escaping from darkness. It was about the garden at night. Whoever said a garden was necessarily a benign environment? It’s a Darwinian battleground, rife with silent violence as plants compete for space, light, moisture, nutriment. It’s a place of entanglements and strangulations, of poisonous, itch-inducing stabbing things. And of inexhaustible beauties."  -Holland Cotter for the NYT


Monet Refuses the Operation 

Doctor, you say there are no halos
around the streetlights in Paris
and what I see is an aberration
caused by old age, an affliction.
I tell you it has taken me all my life
to arrive at the vision of gas lamps as angels,
to soften and blur and finally banish
the edges you regret I don’t see,
to learn that the line I called the horizon
does not exist and sky and water,
so long apart, are the same state of being.
Fifty-four years before I could see
Rouen cathedral is built
of parallel shafts of sun,
and now you want to restore
my youthful errors: fixed
notions of top and bottom,
the illusion of three-dimensional space,
wisteria separate
from the bridge it covers.
What can I say to convince you
the Houses of Parliament dissolve
night after night to become
the fluid dream of the Thames?
I will not return to a universe
of objects that don’t know each other,
as if islands were not the lost children
of one great continent.  The world
is flux, and light becomes what it touches,
becomes water, lilies on water,
above and below water,
becomes lilac and mauve and yellow
and white and cerulean lamps,
small fists passing sunlight
so quickly to one another
that it would take long, streaming hair
inside my brush to catch it.
To paint the speed of light!
Our weighted shapes, these verticals,
burn to mix with air
and changes our bones, skin, clothes
to gases.  Doctor,
if only you could see
how heaven pulls earth into its arms
and how infinitely the heart expands
to claim this world, blue vapor without end.

-Liesl Mueller