American Art – Part I of III: Lucas Reiner
Painter Lucas Reiner lives and works in Los Angeles.
“There is a good deal to live for, but a man has to go through hell really to find it out.” – Edwin Arlington Robinson, American poet and three-time recipient of the Pulitzer Prize, who died 6 April 1935.
Miniver Cheevy, child of scorn,
Grew lean while he assailed the seasons;
He wept that he was ever born,
And he had reasons.
Miniver loved the days of old
When swords were bright and steeds were prancing;
The vision of a warrior bold
Would set him dancing.
Miniver sighed for what was not,
And dreamed, and rested from his labors;
He dreamed of Thebes and Camelot,
And Priam’s neighbors.
Miniver mourned the ripe renown
That made so many a name so fragrant;
He mourned Romance, now on the town,
And Art, a vagrant.
Miniver loved the Medici,
Albeit he had never seen one;
He would have sinned incessantly
Could he have been one.
Miniver cursed the commonplace
And eyed a khaki suit with loathing;
He missed the mediæval grace
Of iron clothing.
Miniver scorned the gold he sought,
But sore annoyed was he without it;
Miniver thought, and thought, and thought,
And thought about it.
Miniver Cheevy, born too late,
Scratched his head and kept on thinking;
Miniver coughed, and called it fate,
And kept on drinking.
Fancies in Springtime: Freeman Dyson
From the Music Archives – Part I of III: Shakey Horton
Born 6 April 1917 – Walter “Shakey” Horton, an accomplished American blues harmonica player.
A Poem for Today
By Mary Jo Bang
I was working in a bookstore and as an antidote
to the twin torment of exhaustion and boredom,
one day I went with a friend on a walking tour.
We made it as far as Berlin and there I met the
man I would move with to a boarding house, then
to furnished rooms in the flat of a civil servant,
and from there one morning in January to the
Registry to be married. Afterward we moved to a
studio apartment and two years later to the
school where boys returning from the war would
remove their collars and sew them back on with
red thread to demonstrate the end of their
allegiance to the cruel and fastidious past.
Everyone wanted to be launched into a place
from which you could look back and ask whether
the red was also meant to enact spilled blood. You
could say so, but only if you want to insist that
history’s minutia is best read as allegory. The fact
is, history didn’t exist then. Each day was a
twenty-four hour stand-still on a bridge from
which we discretely looked into the distance,
hoping to catch sight of the future. It’s near where
you’re standing now. One day we were lying in
the sun dressed in nothing but our skin when a
camera came by and devoured us.
Fancies in Springtime: Henry Cloos
“It was during my enchanted days of travel that the idea came to me, which, through the years, has come into my thoughts again and again and always happily—the idea that geology is the music of the earth.”
“I am a socialist. That is why I want as much beauty as possible in our everyday lives, and so I am an enemy of pseudo-poetry and pseudo-art of all kinds. Too many ‘poets of the Left,’ as they call themselves, are badly in need of instruction as to the difference between poetry and propaganda. These people should read William Blake on Imagination until they show signs of understanding him. Then the air will be clear again, and the land be, if not full of, fit for song.” – Idris Davies, Welsh poet and environmentalist, who died 6 April 1953.
“High Summer on the Mountains”
High summer on the mountains
And on the clover leas,
And on the local sidings,
And on the rhubarb leaves.
Brass bands in all the valleys
Blaring defiant tunes,
Crowds, acclaiming carnival,
Prize pigs and wooded spoons.
Dust on shabby hedgerows
Behind the colliery wall,
Dust on rail and girder
And tram and prop and all.
Born 6 April 1826 – Gustave Moreau, a French Symbolist painter whose main emphasis was the illustration of mythological figures.
Fancies in Springtime: Derrick Jensen
“Many Indians have told me that the most basic difference between Western and indigenous ways of being is that Westerners view the world as dead, and not as filled with speaking, thinking, feeling subjects as worthy and valuable as themselves.”
The Joy and Sorrow of Love
6 April 1327 (Good Friday) – Francesco Petrarch, Italian scholar, humanist, and poet, first sets eyes on his beloved Laura, who inspired him to write his famous sonnet sequence.
6 April 1348 – Laura dies of plague.
“Sonnet 3” (translated by Mark Musa)
It was the day the sun’s ray had turned pale
with pity for the suffering of his Maker
when I was caught, and I put up no fight,
my lady, for your lovely eyes had bound me.
It seemed no time to be on guard against
Love’s blows; therefore, I went my way
secure and fearless-so, all my misfortunes
began in midst of universal woe.
Love found me all disarmed and found the way
was clear to reach my heart down through the eyes
which have become the halls and doors of tears.
It seems to me it did him little honour
to wound me with his arrow in my state
and to you, armed, not show his bow at all.
Fancies in Springtime: Henry David Thoreau
From the Music Archives – Part II of III: Igor Stravinsky
“My music is best understood by children and animals.” – Igor Stravinsky, Russian composer, pianist, and conductor, who died 6 April 1971.
Child: River bird, river bird
Sitting all day long
On the hook over grass
River bird, river bird,
Sing to me a song
Of all that pass
Will mother come back today?
Bird: You cannot know
And should not bother;
Tide and market come and go
And so shall your mother.
Fancies in Springtime: Jeannette Walls
From the Music Archives – Part III of III: Niki Sullivan
Died 6 April 2004 – Niki Sullivan, an American guitarist and one of the original members of Buddy Holly’s band The Crickets.
A Second Poem for Today
By Gary Metras
It doesn’t bother me to have
lint in the bottoms of pant pockets;
it gives the hands something to do,
especially since I no longer hold
shovel, hod, or hammer
in the daylight hours of labor
and haven’t, in fact, done so
in twenty-five years. A long time
to be picking lint from pockets.
Perhaps even long enough to have
gathered sacks full of lint
that could have been put
to good use, maybe spun into yarn
to knit a sweater for my wife’s
Christmas present, or strong thread
whirled and woven into a tweedy jacket.
Imagine entering my classroom
in a jacket made from lint.
Who would believe it?
Yet there are stranger things—
the son of a bricklayer with hands
so smooth they’re only fit
for picking lint.
“We’re all just walking each other home.” – Ram Dass (born Richard Alpert), American spiritual teacher, founder of the charitable organizations Seva Foundation and Hanuman Foundation, and author of “Be Here Now,” who was born 6 April 1928.
Some quotes from the work of Ram Dass:
“It is important to expect nothing, to take every experience, including the negative ones, as merely steps on the path, and to proceed.”
“When you are already in Detroit, you don’t have to take a bus to get there.”
“Inspiration is God making contact with itself.”
“Your problem is you’re . . . too busy holding onto your unworthiness.”
“From a Hindu perspective, you are born as what you need to deal with, and if you just try and push it away, whatever it is, it’s got you.”
“I have always said that often the religion you were born with becomes more important to you as you see the universality of truth.”
“If you think you’re free, there’s no escape possible.”
“My guru said that when he suffers, it brings him closer to God. I have found this, too.”
“Our plans never turn out as tasty as reality.”
Fancies in Springtime: Mark Twain
“I had to have company — I was made for it, I think — so I made friends with the animals. They are just charming, and they have the kindest disposition and the politest ways; they never look sour, they never let you feel that you are intruding, they smile at you and wag their tail, if they’ve got one, and they are always ready for a romp or an excursion or anything you want to propose.”
Traveling through empty space,
my mind walks around on the moonscape.
A birds shames me,
while a stone ignores me.
I taste infinite empty distances
as the knife cuts my heart.
You do not want to know it.
seems like sand found in a shell.
Shall I come too late
to the beginning?
Each word in my heart is
like a jewel under the sun.
Day by day love fades,
like wood you have burned.
I am torn with sorrow.
At last I am
A Third Poem for Today
By Lucille Lang Day
He was tall, lean, serious
about his profession,
said it disturbed him
to see mismatched teeth.
Squinting, he asked me
to turn toward the light
as he held an unglazed crown
by my upper incisors.
With a small brush he applied
yellow, gray, pink, violet
and green from a palette of glazes,
then fired it at sixteen hundred
degrees. We went outside
to check the final color,
and he was pleased. Today
the dentist put it in my mouth,
and no one could ever guess
my secret: there’s no one quite
like me, and I can prove it
by the unique shade of
the ivory sculptures attached
to bony sockets in my jaw.
A gallery opens when I smile.
Even the forgery gleams.
“Rain in the Night”
It rains in the night
on the old roofs and the wet streets
on the black hills
and on the temples in the dead cities
In the dark I hear the ancestral music of the rain
its ancient footfall its dissolving voice
More rapid than the dreams of men
the rain makes roads through the air
makes trails through the dust
longer than the footstep of men.
Tomorrow we will die
die twice over
Once as individuals
a second time as a species
and between the bolts of lightning and the white seeds
scattered through the shadows
there’s time for a complete examination of conscience
time to tell the human story
It will rain in the night
Here is one critic describing the artistry of New Zealand painter Rex Turnbull: “The paintings of Rex Turnbull entice the viewer to journey ‘through the mirror’ into other worlds where the fictive imagination of the painter meticulously constructs landscapes that are strangely familiar and yet not quite known. These landscapes are imbued with an intense stillness at counterpoint to the frenetic pace of contemporary life. This is slow art, work to quieten the mind and stimulate the imagination.”
Fancies in Springtime: Robert Louis Stevenson
“It is not so much for its beauty that the forest makes a claim upon men’s hearts, as for that subtle something, that quality of air that emanation from old trees, that so wonderfully changes and renews a weary spirit.”
A Fourth Poem for Today
“The Other Fathers”
By Lyn Lifshin
would be coming back
from some war, sending
back stuffed birds or
handkerchiefs in navy
blue with Love painted
on it. Some sent telegrams
for birthdays, the pastel
letters like jewels. The
magazines were full of fathers who
were doing what had
to be done, were serving,
were brave. Someone
yelped there’d be confetti
in the streets, maybe
no school. That soon
we’d have bananas. My
father sat in the grey
chair, war after war,
hardly said a word. I
wished he had gone
away with the others
so maybe he would
be coming back to us
Born 6 April 1889 – Gabriela Mistral, a Chilean poet, educator, diplomat, feminist, and the recipient of the 1945 Nobel Prize in Literature “for her lyric poetry which, inspired by powerful emotions, has made her name a symbol of the idealistic aspirations of the entire Latin American world.”
“To See Him Again”
Never, never again?
Not on nights filled with quivering stars,
or during dawn’s maiden brightness
or afternoons of sacrifice?
Or at the edge of a pale path
that encircles the farmlands,
or upon the rim of a trembling fountain,
whitened by a shimmering moon?
Or beneath the forest’s
luxuriant, raveled tresses
where, calling his name,
I was overtaken by the night?
Not in the grotto that returns
the echo of my cry?
Oh no. To see him again —
it would not matter where —
in heaven’s deadwater
or inside the boiling vortex,
under serene moons or in bloodless fright!
Born 6 April 1849 – John William Waterhouse, a British painter known for working in the Pre-Raphaelite style.
Below – “Gone But Not Forgotten”; “Ophelia” (1889); “The Lady of Shallot”; “Circe Offering the Cup to Odysseus”; “Ulysses and the Sirens”; “La Belle Dame Sans Merci”; “Hylas and the Nymphs”; “Juliet”; “Boreas”; “Enchanted Garden.”
Fancies in Springtime: Laura Adams Armer
From the American History Archives – Part I of II: Shiloh
6 April 1862 – The opening day of the Battle of Shiloh during the American Civil War. It was the bloodiest battle in the history of the United States up to that time.
“Shiloh: A Requiem (April, 1862)”
by Herman Melville
Skimming lightly, wheeling still,
The swallows fly low
Over the field in clouded days,
The forest-field of Shiloh—
Over the field where April rain
Solaced the parched ones stretched in pain
Through the pause of night
That followed the Sunday fight
Around the church of Shiloh—
The church so lone, the log-built one,
That echoed to many a parting groan
And natural prayer
Of dying foemen mingled there—
Foemen at morn, but friends at eve—
Fame or country least their care:
(What like a bullet can undeceive!)
But now they lie low,
While over them the swallows skim,
And all is hushed at Shiloh.
A Fifth Poem for Today
“Old Man Throwing a Ball”
By David Baker
He is tight at first, stiff, stands there atilt
tossing the green fluff tennis ball down
the side alley, but soon he’s limber,
he’s letting it fly and the black lab
lops back each time. These are the true lovers,
this dog, this man, and when the dog stops
to pee, the old guy hurries him back, then
hurls the ball farther away. Now his mother
dodders out, she’s old as the sky, wheeling
her green tank with its sweet vein, breath.
She tips down the path he’s made for her,
grass rippling but trim, soft underfoot,
to survey the yard, every inch of it
in fine blossom, set-stone, pruned miniature,
split rails docked along the front walk,
antique watering cans down-spread—up
huffs the dog again with his mouthy ball—
so flowers seem to spill out, red geraniums,
grand blue asters, and something I have
no name for, wild elsewhere in our world
American Art – Part II of III: Natalie Arnold
Painter Natalie Arnold lives and works in Venice, California.
Fancies in Springtime: Robert Frost
From the American History Archives – Part II of II: America Enters World War I
6 April 1917 – The United States declares war on Germany and enters World War I.
A few months following the declaration of war and after a parade through Paris with the first contingent of American soldiers to land in France, lieutenant colonel Charles Stanton stood with his troops at the grave of the Marquis de Lafayette and said, “Nous voila, Lafayette!” (“Lafayette, we are here!“).
“Never such innocence again.” – Phillip Larkin
A Sixth Poem for Today
“The Letter From Home”
By Nancyrose Houston
The dogs barked, the dogs scratched, the dogs got wet, the
dogs shook, the dogs circled, the dogs slept, the dogs ate,
the dogs barked; the rain fell down, the leaves fell down, the
eggs fell down and cracked on the floor; the dust settled,
the wood floors were scratched, the cabinets sat without
doors, the trim without paint, the stuff piled up; I loaded the
dishwasher, I unloaded the dishwasher, I raked the leaves,
I did the laundry, I took out the garbage, I took out the
recycling, I took out the yard waste. There was a bed, it was
soft, there was a blanket, it was warm, there were dreams,
they were good. The corn grew, the eggplant grew, the
tomatoes grew, the lettuce grew, the strawberries grew, the
blackberries grew; the tea kettle screamed, the computer
keys clicked, the radio roared, the TV spoke. “Will they ever
come home?” “Can’t I take a break?” “How do others keep
their house clean?” “Will I remember this day in fifty years?”
The sweet tea slipped down my throat, the brownies melted
in my mouth. My mother cooked, the apple tree bloomed, the
lilac bloomed, the mimosa bloomed, I bloomed.
Back from the Territory – Art: The work of Alaska artist Julia Tanigoshi Tinker
In the words of one writer, “Julia Tanigoshi Tinker is an artist who works with mixed media, combining the traditional Japanese art form of gyotaku with watercolor to create paintings of many locally-caught Alaskan fish. This art form, in which a print is made of a fish using non-toxic sumi ink on rice paper, originated in Japan in the early 1800s as a way for fishermen to remember their prized catches. She caught each of these fish while captaining her own boat in southern Alaska, and can tell a story about each fish she has painted!”
Back from the Territory, I share this with you, before I light out again.
Fancies in Springtime: Hamlin Garland
“I remember a hundred lovely lakes, and recall the fragrant breath of pine and fir and cedar and poplar trees. The trail has strung upon it, as upon a thread of silk, opalescent dawns and saffron sunsets. It has given me blessed release from care and worry and the troubled thinking of our modern day. It has been a return to the primitive and the peaceful. Whenever the pressure of our complex city life thins my blood and benumbs my brain, I seek relief in the trail; and when I hear the coyote wailing to the yellow dawn, my cares fall from me – I am happy.”
A Seventh Poem for Today
“Not Knowing Why”
By Ann Struthers
Adolescent white pelicans squawk, rustle, flap their wings,
lift off in a ragged spiral at imaginary danger.
What danger on this island in the middle
of Marble Lake? They’re off to feel
the lift of wind under their iridescent wings,
because they were born to fly,
because they have nothing else to do,
because wind and water are their elements,
their Bach, their Homer, Shakespeare,
and Spielberg. They wheel over the lake,
the little farms, the tourist village with their camera eyes.
In autumn something urges
them toward Texas marshes. They follow
their appetites and instincts, unlike the small beetles
creeping along geometric roads, going toward small boxes,
toward lives as narrow or as wide as the pond,
as glistening or as gray as the sky.
They do not know why. They fly, they fly.
Fancies in Springtime: Elinor Goulding Smith
American Art – Part III of III: Frederick Ortner
Here is one critic describing the background of painter Frederick Ortner: “(He) was trained in New York City at Pratt Institute, the New York Studio School, and New York University’s Institute of Fine Arts. His painting has been supported by grants from the Skowegan School, the Royal College of Art in London, the Cité Internationale des Arts in Paris, the E. J. Noble Foundation, and the MacDowell Colony.”
Frederick Ortner is Professor of Art at Louisiana State University.