American Art – Part I of IV: Heather Stamenov
A Poem for Today
“A Little Tooth,”
By Thomas Lux
Your baby grows a tooth, then two,
and four, and five, then she wants some meat
directly from the bone. It’s all
over: she’ll learn some words, she’ll fall
in love with cretins, dolts, a sweet
talker on his way to jail. And you,
your wife, get old, flyblown, and rue
nothing. You did, you loved, your feet
are sore. It’s dusk. Your daughter’s tall.
Below – Hilda Goldwag: “Old Couple”
“I intend to leave after my death a large fund for the promotion of the peace idea, but I am skeptical as to its results.” – Alfred Nobel, Swedish chemist, engineer, innovator, armaments manufacturer, and philanthropist, who died 10 December 1896.
Some quotes from the work of Alfred Nobel:
“Second to agriculture, humbug is the biggest industry of our age.”
“Hope is nature’s veil for hiding truth’s nakedness.”
“A recluse without books and ink is already in life a dead man.”
“Contentment is the only real wealth.”
“Good wishes alone will not ensure peace.”
“Home is where I work, and I work everywhere.”
“Justice is to be found only in imagination.
“Lawyers have to make a living, and can only do so by inducing people to believe that a straight line is crooked.”
“One can state, without exaggeration, that the observation of and the search for similarities and differences are the basis of all human knowledge.”
“I am a misanthrope and yet utterly benevolent, have more than one screw loose yet am a super-idealist who digests philosophy more efficiently than food.”
Nobel Laureates – Part I of IV: Theodore Roosevelt
10 December 1906 – U. S. President Theodore Roosevelt wins the Nobel Peace Prize for his role in the mediation of the Russo-Japanese War, becoming the first American to win a Nobel Prize.
Theodore Roosevelt’s Acceptance Speech: “I am profoundly moved and touched by the signal honor shown me through your body in conferring upon me the Nobel Peace Prize. There is no gift I could appreciate more and I wish it were in my power fully to express my gratitude. I thank you for it, and I thank you on behalf of the United States; for what I did, I was able to accomplish only as the representative of the nation of which, for the time being, I am president.
After much thought, I have concluded that the best and most fitting way to apply the amount of the prize is by using it as a foundation to establish at Washington a permanent industrial peace committee. The object will be to strive for better and more equitable relations among my countrymen who are engaged, whether as capitalists or as wage workers, in industrial and agricultural pursuits. This will carry out the purpose of the founder of the prize, for in modern life it is as important to work for the cause of just and righteous peace in the industrial world as in the world of nations.
I again express to you the assurance of my deep and lasting gratitude and appreciation.”
10 December 1931 – Jane Addams, founder of Hull House in Chicago, public philosopher, sociologist, author, advocate of female suffrage, and activist for world peace, becomes the first American woman to receive the Nobel Peace Prize.
Jane Addams: “The good we secure for ourselves is precarious and uncertain until it is secured for all of us and incorporated into our common life.”
Nobel Laureates – Part III of IV: Shmuel Yosef Agnon
10 December 1966 – Israeli author Shmuel Yosef Agnon is awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature “for his profoundly characteristic narrative art with motifs from the life of the Jewish people.” He shared the award with Nelly Sachs.
Shmuel Yosef Agnon: “For myself, I am very small indeed in my own eyes.”
10 December 1966 – German-Jewish author Nelly Sachs is awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature. She shared the award with Shmuel Yosef Agnon.
When she won the Prize, Nelly Sachs observed that Agnon represented Israel, whereas “I represent the tragedy of the Jewish people.”
A Second Poem for Today
“where you are planted,”
By Evie Shockley
“he’s as high as a georgia pine,” my father’d say, half laughing. southern trees
as measure, metaphor. highways lined with kudzu-covered southern trees.
fuchsia, lavender, white, light pink, purple : crape myrtle bouquets burst
open on sturdy branches of skin-smooth bark : my favorite southern trees.
“one hundred degrees in the shade” : we settle into still pools of humidity, moss-
dark, beneath live oaks. southern heat makes us grateful for southern trees.
the maples in our front yard flew in spring on helicopter wings. in fall, we
splashed in colored leaves, but never sought sap from these southern trees.
“frankly, my dear, that’s a magnolia,” i tell her, fingering the deep green, nearly
plastic leaves, amazed how little a northern girl knows about southern trees.
i’ve never forgotten the charred bitter fruit of holiday’s poplars, nor will i :
it’s part of what makes me evie: i grew up in the shadow of southern trees.
The Mole was bewitched, entranced, fascinated. By the side of the river he trotted as one trots, when very small, by the side of a man who holds one spellbound by exciting stories; and when tired at last, he sat on the bank, while the river still chattered on to him, a babbling procession of the best stories in the world, sent from the heart of the earth to be told at last to the insatiable sea.” ― “The Wind in the Willows”
In the words of one critic, “Continuing in the tradition of Spain’s great impressionist painters, Eustaquio Segrelles is an artist of extreme versatility. His paintings exude boldness and vibrancy in their loose yet concise brushstrokes.”
From the Music Archives – Part I of II: Rick Danko
Died 10 December 1999 – Rick Danko, a Canadian musician and singer best known as a member of The Band.
A Third Poem for Today
By Carolyn Kizer
After you left me forever,
I was broken into pieces,
and all the pieces flung into the river.
Then the legs crawled ashore
and aimlessly wandered the dusty cow-track.
They became, for a while, a simple roadside shrine:
A tiny table set up between the thighs
held a dusty candle, weed-and-fieldflower chains
placed reverently there by children and old women.
My knees were hung with tin triangular medals
to cure all forms of hysterical disease.
After I died forever in the river,
my torso floated, bloated in the stream,
catching on logs or stones among the eddies.
White water foamed around it, then dislodged it;
after a whirlwind trip, it bumped ashore.
A grizzled old man who scavenged along the banks
had already rescued my arms and put them by,
knowing everything has its uses, sooner or later.
When he found my torso, he called it his canoe,
and, using my arms as paddles,
he rowed me up and down the scummy river.
When catfish nibbled my fingers he scooped them up
and blessed his reusable bait.
Clumsy but serviceable, that canoe!
The trail of blood that was its wake
attracted the carp and eels, and the river turtle,
easily landed, dazed by my tasty red.
A young lad found my head among the rushes
and placed it on a dry stone.
He carefully combed my hair with a bit of shell
and set small offerings before it
which the birds and rats obligingly stole at night,
so it seemed I ate.
And the breeze wound through my mouth and empty sockets
so my lungs would sigh, and my dead tongue mutter.
Attached to my throat like a sacred necklace
was a circlet of small snails.
Soon the villagers came to consult my oracular head
with its waterweed crown.
Seers found occupation, interpreting sighs,
and their papyrus rolls accumulated.
Meanwhile, young boys retrieved my eyes
they used for marbles in a simple game
till somebody’s pretty sister snatched at them
and set them, for luck, in her bridal diadem.
Poor girl! When her future groom caught sight of her,
all eyes, he crossed himself in horror,
and stumbled away in haste
through her dowered meadows.
What then of my heart and organs,
my sacred slit
which loved you best of all?
They were caught in a fisherman’s net
and tossed at night into a pen for swine.
But they shone so by moonlight that the sows stampeded,
trampled one another in fear, to get away.
And the fisherman’s wife, who had thirteen living children
and was contemptuous of holy love,
raked the rest of me onto the compost heap.
Then in their various places and helpful functions,
the altar, oracle, offal, canoe and oars
learned the wild rumor of your return.
The altar leapt up, and ran to the canoe,
scattering candle grease and wilted grasses.
Arms sprang to their sockets, blind hands with nibbled nails
groped their way, aided by loud lamentation,
to the bed of the bride, snatched up those unlucky eyes
from her discarded veil and diadem,
and rammed them home. Oh, what a bright day it was!
This empty body danced on the riverbank.
Hollow, it called and searched among the fields
for those parts that steamed and simmered in the sun,
and never would have found them.
But then your great voice rang out under the skies
my name!—and all those private names
for the parts and places that had loved you best.
And they stirred in their nest of hay and dung.
The distraught old ladies chasing their lost altar,
and the seers pursuing my skull, their lost employment,
and the tumbling boys, who wanted the magic marbles,
and the runaway groom, and the fisherman’s thirteen children
set up such a clamor, with their cries of “Miracle!”
that our two bodies met like a thunderclap
in midday—right at the corner of that wretched field
with its broken fenceposts and startled, skinny cattle.
We fell in a heap on the compost heap
and all our loving parts made love at once,
while the bystanders cheered and prayed and hid their eyes
and then went decently about their business.
And here it is, moonlight again; we’ve bathed in the river
and are sweet and wholesome once more.
We kneel side by side in the sand;
we worship each other in whispers.
But the inner parts remember fermenting hay,
the comfortable odor of dung, the animal incense,
and passion, its bloody labor,
its birth and rebirth and decay.
Musings in December: Beth Revis
“The glitter in the sky looks as if I could scoop it all up in my hands and let the stars swirl and touch one another, but they are so distant, so very far apart, that they cannot feel the warmth of each other, even though they are made of burning.”
American Art – Part II of IV: Carol Saxe
In the words of one writer, “C. Saxe is an award winning artist whose work has been published in posters by the New York Graphics Society. Biographical information about the artist is in the vertical file at the Watson library of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Saxe’s work is represented in numerous national, private and corporate collections.”
“I dwell in possibility.” – Emily Dickinson, American poet, who was born on 10 December 1830.
“Hope is a the thing with feathers”
Hope is the thing with feathers –
That perches in the soul –
And sings the tune without the words –
And never stops – at all –
And sweetest – in the Gale – is heard –
And sore must be the storm –
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm –
I’ve heard it in the chillest land –
And on the strangest Sea –
Yet – never – in Extremity,
It asked a crumb – of me.
“I sat there and forgot and forgot, until what remained was the river that went by and I who watched… Eventually the watcher joined the river, and there was only one of us. I believe it was the river.
Even the anatomy of a river was laid bare. Not far downstream was a dry channel where the river had run once, and part of the way to come to know a thing is through its death. But years ago I had known the river when it flowed through this now dry channel, so I could enliven its stony remains with the waters of memory.” ― “A River Runs Through It and Other Stories”
British Art – Part I of II: Katie Lehman
In the words of one critic, “Kate Lehman was born in London in 1968, raised in Paris, and has lived in New York City on and off for the past twenty years. She began studying art at the age of 15 at the L’academie Roederer in Paris. Kate then focused her training on traditional academic techniques at the Minnesota River School of Fine Art with Patrick Devonas. She continued her studies with him in New York and later in Brooklyn under Jacob Collins at The Water Street Atelier for four years. Kate is one of the Co-Founders, along with Michael Grimaldi and Dan Thompson, of the Janus Collaborative School of Art in New York City. She lives and paints in Manhattan with her husband, the painter, Travis Schlaht, and shows at several galleries around the country.”
“Happiness is a Chinese meal; sorrow is a nourishment forever.” – Carolyn Kizer, American poet, translator, author of “Mermaids in the Basement: Poems for Women,” and recipient of the 1985 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry (for “Yin”), who was born 10 December 1925.
“A Muse of Water”
We who must act as handmaidens
To our own goddess, turn too fast,
Trip on our hems, to glimpse the muse
Gliding below her lake or sea,
Are left, long-staring after her,
Narcissists by necessity;
Or water-carriers of our young
Till waters burst, and white streams flow
Artesian, from the lifted breast:
Cupbearers then, to tiny gods,
Imperious table-pounders, who
Are final arbiters of thirst.
Fasten the blouse, and mount the steps
From kitchen taps to Royal Barge,
Assume the trident, don the crown,
Command the Water Music now
That men bestow on Virgin Queens;
Or goddessing above the waist,
Appear as swan on Thames or Charles
Where iridescent foam conceals
The paddle-stroke beneath the glide:
Immortal feathers preened in poems!
Not our true, intimate nature, stained
By labor, and the casual tide.
Masters of civilization, you
Who moved to riverbank from cave,
Putting up tents, and deities,
Though every rivulet wander through
The final, unpolluted glades
To cinder-bank and culvert-lip,
And all the pretty chatterers
Still round the pebbles as they pass
Lightly over their watercourse,
And even the calm rivers flow,
We have, while springs and skies renew,
Dry wells, dead seas, and lingering drouth.
Water itself is not enough.
Harness her turbulence to work
For man: fill his reflecting pools.
Drained for his cofferdams, or stored
In reservoirs for his personal use:
Turn switches! Let the fountains play!
And yet these buccaneers still kneel
Trembling at the water’s verge:
‘Cool River-Goddess, sweet ravine,
Spirit of pool and shade, inspire!’
So he needs poultice for his flesh.
So he needs water for his fire.
We rose in mists and died in clouds
Or sank below the trammeled soil
To silent conduits underground,
Joining the blindfish, and the mole.
A gleam of silver in the shale:
Lost murmur! Subterranean moan!
So flows in dark caves, dries away,
What would have brimmed from bank to bank,
Kissing the fields you turned to stone,
Under the boughs your axes broke.
And you blame streams for thinning out,
plundered by man’s insatiate want?
Rejoice when a faint music rises
Out of a brackish clump of weeds,
Out of the marsh at ocean-side,
Out of the oil-stained river’s gleam,
By the long causeways and gray piers
Your civilizing lusts have made.
Discover the deserted beach
Where ghosts of curlews safely wade:
Here the warm shallows lave your feet
Like tawny hair of magdalens.
Here, if you care, and lie full-length,
Is water deep enough to drown.
Musings in December: John Muir
“This grand show is eternal. It is always sunrise somewhere; the dew is never all dried at once; a shower is forever falling; vapor is ever rising. Eternal sunrise, eternal sunset, eternal dawn and gloaming, on sea and continents and islands, each in its turn, as the round earth rolls.”
British Art – Part II of II: Patricia Rorie
Artist Statement: “My work is greatly influenced by advertising and the media. In magazines and on television we are confronted by unrealistically attractive men and women who we aspire to look like. In reality, even these actors and models do not look this good without hours of make-up, flattering lighting and digital enhancement. The same model can appear several times in one magazine in a variety of advertising campaigns and look completely different in each one. I am fascinated by the way something as simple as a hairstyle can change a person’s appearance so much that it makes a viewer believe it is a different person. Everyone instinctively forms a first opinion about a person on their appearance, yet their appearance is easily changed. My paintings are developed from photographs that are influenced by these artificial ideals and transformations.
I use myself as a model but I do not think of these as self-portraits as I rarely mean for the finished image to resemble myself. In most of my paintings I create characters using disguises such as wigs, clothing and make-up, and my objective is to portray a range of atmospheres by manipulating the character, lighting and settings. I create glamorous looking women who appear to be posing for the camera as if the image were taken from a glossy magazine or film still and I lead the viewer to associate the image with someone they have seen before or some stereotype.”
A Fourth Poem for Today
“The Animals are Leaving,”
By Charles Harper Webb
One by one, like guests at a late party
They shake our hands and step into the dark:
‘Arabian ostrich; Long-eared kit fox; Mysterious starling.’
One by one, like sheep counted to close our eyes,
They leap the fence and disappear into the woods:
‘Atlas bear; Passenger pigeon; North Island laughing owl;
Great auk; Dodo; Eastern wapiti; Badlands bighorn sheep.’
One by one, like grade school friends,
They move away and fade out of memory:
‘Portuguese ibex; Blue buck; Auroch; Oregon bison;
Spanish imperial eagle; Japanese wolf; Hawksbill
Sea turtle; Cape lion; Heath hen; Raiatea thrush.’
One by one, like children at a fire drill, they march outside,
And keep marching, though teachers cry, “Come back!”
‘Waved albatross; White-bearded spider monkey;
Pygmy chimpanzee; Australian night parrot;
Turquoise parakeet; Indian cheetah; Korean tiger;
Eastern harbor seal ; Ceylon elephant ; Great Indian rhinoceros.’
“The whole idea of compassion is based on a keen awareness of the interdependence of all these living beings, which are all part of one another, and all involved in one another.” – Thomas Merton, American Trappist monk, poet, social activist, student of comparative religion, proponent of inter-faith understanding, and author of “Zen and the Birds of Appetite” and “The Asian Journal of Thomas Merton,” who died on 10 December 1968.
Some quotes from Thomas Merton:
“Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time.”
“The beginning of love is to let those we love be perfectly themselves, and not to twist them to fit our own image. Otherwise we love only the reflection of ourselves we find in them.”
“Happiness is not a matter of intensity but of balance, order, rhythm and harmony.”
“A life is either all spiritual or not spiritual at all. No man can serve two masters. Your life is shaped by the end you live for. You are made in the image of what you desire.”
“The biggest human temptation is to settle for too little.”
“Yet it is in this loneliness that the deepest activities begin. It is here that you discover act without motion, labor that is profound repose, vision in obscurity, and, beyond all desire, a fulfillment whose limits extend to infinity.”
“In the last analysis, the individual person is responsible for living his own life and for ‘finding’ himself. If he persists in shifting his responsibility to somebody else, he fails to find out the meaning of his own existence.”
“We stumble and fall constantly even when we are most enlightened. But when we are in true spiritual darkness, we do not even know that we have fallen.”
“Peace demands the most heroic labor and the most difficult sacrifice. It demands greater heroism than war. It demands greater fidelity to the truth and a much more perfect purity of conscience.”
“What can we gain by sailing to the moon if we are not able to cross the abyss that separates us from ourselves? This is the most important of all voyages of discovery, and without it, all the rest are not only useless, but disastrous.”
“If you want to study the social and political history of modern nations, study hell.”
“Love seeks one thing only: the good of the one loved. It leaves all the other secondary effects to take care of themselves. Love, therefore, is its own reward.”
“We are so obsessed with doing that we have no time and no imagination left for being. As a result, men are valued not for what they are but for what they do or what they have – for their usefulness.”
“To consider persons and events and situations only in the light of their effect upon myself is to live on the doorstep of hell.”
“When ambition ends, happiness begins.”
“I cannot make the universe obey me. I cannot make other people conform to my own whims and fancies. I cannot make even my own body obey me.”
“Death is someone you see very clearly with eyes in the center of your heart: eyes that see not by reacting to light, but by reacting to a kind of a chill from within the marrow of your own life.”
“The least of the work of learning is done in the classroom.”
“A daydream is an evasion.”
“Solitude is not something you must hope for in the future. Rather, it is a deepening of the present, and unless you look for it in the present you will never find it.”
Musings in December: Henry David Thoreau
“Who hears the rippling of rivers will not utterly despair of anything.” – Henry David Thoreau
Below – Concord River, Massachusetts; Merrimack River, Massachusetts; Big River, California.
“Creativity is the power to connect the seemingly unconnected.” – William Plomer, self-described Anglo-African-Asian poet, novelist, and literary editor, who was born 10 December 1903.
“In the Snake Park”
A white-hot midday in the Snake Park.
Lethargy lay here and there in coils,
And here and there a neat obsidian head
Lay dreaming on a plaited pillow of its own
Loops like a pretzel or a true-love-knot.
A giant Python seemed a heap of tyres;
Two Nielsen’s Vipers looked for a way out,
Sick of their cage and one another’s curves;
And the long Ringsnake brought from Lembuland
Poured softly through an opening like smoke.
Leaning intently forward a young girl
Discerned in stagnant water on a rock
A dark brown shoestring or discarded whiplash,
Then read the label to find out the name,
Then stared again: it moved. She screamed.
Old Piet Vander leant with us that day
On the low wall around the rocky space
Where amid broken quartz that cast no shade
Snakes twitched or slithered, or appeared to sleep,
Or lay invisible in the singing glare.
The sun throbbed like a fever as he spoke:
‘Look carefully at this shrub with glossy leaves.’
Leaves bright as brass. ‘That leaf on top
Just there, do you see that it has eyes?
That’s a Green Mamba, and it’s watching you.
‘A man I once knew did survive the bite,
Saved by a doctor running with a knife,
Serum and all. He was never the same again.
Vomiting blackness, agonizing, passing blood,
Part paralysed, near gone, he felt
‘(He told me later) he would burst apart;
But the worst agony was in his mind —
Unbearable nightmare, worse than total grief
Or final loss of hope, impossibly magnified
To a blind passion of panic and extreme distress.’
‘Why should that little head have power
To inject all horror for no reason at all?’
‘Ask me another — and beware of snakes.’
The sun was like a burning-glass. Face down
The girl who screamed had fallen in a faint.
From the Music Archives – Part II of II: Ludwig van Beethoven
“No poem ever bought a hamburger, or not too many.” – Thomas Lux, American poet, teacher, and author of “Split Horizon” and “Child Made of Sand,” who was born 10 December 1946.
“The Road That Runs Beside The River”
follows the river as it bends
along the valley floor,
going the way it must.
Where water goes, so goes the road,
if there’s room (not in a ravine,
gorge), the river
on your right or left. Left is better: when you’re driving,
it’s over your elbow across
You see the current, which is
what the river is: the river
in the river, a thing sliding fast forward
inside a thing sliding not so fast forward.
Driving with, beside, the river’s flow is good.
Another pleasure, driving against it: it’s the same river
someone else will see
somewhere else downstream — same play,
new theater, different set.
Wide, shallow, fairly fast,
roundy-stone streambed, rocky-land river,
it turns there or here — the ground
telling it so — draining dull
mountains to the north,
migrating, feeding a few hard-fleshed fish
who live in it. One small sandbar splits
the river, then it loops left,
the road right, and the river’s silver
slips under the trees,
into the forest,
and over the sharp perpendicular
edge of the earth.
Musings in December: Gary Snyder
Musings in December: John Keats.
“Just because you’re taught that something’s right and everyone believes it’s right, it don’t make it right.” – From “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn,” by Mark Twain, which was published on 10 December 1884.
Some quotes from “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn”:
“It’s lovely to live on a raft. We had the sky, up there, all speckled with stars, and we used to lay on our backs and look up at them, and discuss about whether they was made, or only just happened- Jim he allowed they was made, but I allowed they happened; I judged it would have took too long to make so many.”
“We catched fish and talked, and we took a swim now and then to keep off sleepiness. It was kind of solemn, drifting down the big, still river, laying on our backs looking up at the stars, and we didn’t ever feel like talking loud, and it warn’t often that we laughed — only a little kind of a low chuckle. We had mighty good weather as a general thing, and nothing ever happened to us at all — that night, nor the next, nor the next.”
“Stars and shadows ain’t good to see by.”
“A feud is this way: A man has a quarrel with another man, and kills him; then that other man’s brother kills him; then the other brothers, on both sides, goes for one another; then the cousins chip in — and by and by everybody’s killed off, and there ain’t no more feud. But it’s kind of slow, and takes a long time.”
“I reckon I got to light out for the Territory ahead of the rest, because Aunt Sally she’s going to adopt me and sivilize me, and I can’t stand it. I been there before.”
A Fifth Poem for Today
(Note: Riprap is a layer or foundation of stones placed on an embankment slope or trail to prevent erosion.)
By Gary Snyder
Lay down these words
Before your mind like rocks.
placed solid, by hands
In choice of place, set
Before the body of the mind
in space and time:
Solidity of bark, leaf, or wall
riprap of things:
Cobble of milky way,
These poems, people,
lost ponies with
and rocky sure-foot trails.
The worlds like an endless
Game of Go.
ants and pebbles
In the thin loam, each rock a word
a creek-washed stone
with torment of fire and weight
Crystal and sediment linked hot
all change, in thoughts,
As well as things.
Musings in December: Rainer Maria Rilke
American Art – Part III of IV: Gary G. Hernandez
In the words of one writer, “Gary G. Hernandez is an award-winning artist from Texas whose paintings have been exhibited throughout the United States. Hernandez specializes in representational art with an emphasis on the human figure.”
A Sixth Poem for Today
By Kathleen Jamie
It was winter, near freezing,
I’d walked through a forest of firs
when I saw issue out of the waterfall
a solitary bird.
It lit on a damp rock,
and, as water swept stupidly on,
wrung from its own throat
supple, undammable song.
American Art – Part IV of IV: Gina Higgins
Here is one critic describing the artistry of Gina Higgins: “Her work is a disarming mixture of seductive beauty and intrigue, an homage to film noir, updated and made current. The genre she has termed ‘American-Noir,’ and the paintings have caught the interest of collectors from around the world.”