From the Pacific Northwest – Part XLI

Musings in Autumn: Kerstin Gier

“Home is where your books are.”

A Poem for Today

By Jim Handlin

Everything gets slow, stops.
I reread the telegram.

I remember the squirrel dead
at the end of the driveway.
The body thrown up on the grass
next to the azalea.
The red where the car hit
so different from the red
of the bush.
All that day and the next
I thought of ways
to stay close to my mother.

They auction the contents
of the estate. Limoges and
cloisonné, piece after piece.
The bed she slept in, her silver
tea set. I notice cobwebs
in corners, dust, places
where the wallpaper’s faded.
Her painting for some other wall,
her gold for someone else’s finger.
Outside taillights slash the night:
red and more red.

Art for Winter – Part I of III: Nelly Littlehale Murphy (American, 1867-1941)

Below – “Forest Visit”

Musings in Autumn: Han Shan

“I settled at Cold Mountain long ago
Already it seems like ages
Wandering free I roam the woods and streams
Lingering to watch things be themselves
Men don’t come this far into the mountains
Where white clouds gather and billow
Dry grass makes a comfortable mattress
The blue sky is a fine quilt
Happy to pillow my head on the rock
I leave heaven and earth to endless change”

A Second Poem for Today

“One of 100”
By David Trinidad

To be one such one—for one night only.
To be singled out
for this brief distinction

and fly first class (on miles),
wear black tie, walk red carpet.
To be met with smiles

and camera-flash
and then be asked,
by a stringer,
“Who are you?”

“A poet? What’s it
like to be that?”

One only exists
when being photographed.
One fawns all over
the aged activist—
infirm but famous.
One hungers for
the elusive hors d’oeuvres.

One meets one:
an Oscar winner
who looks great—for 83.
His secret: carrot juice.

One finds
one has nothing
to say.

Art for Winter – Part II of III: Carl John David Nordell (American, 1885-1957)

Below – “October Still Life”

Musings in Autumn: Margaret Atwood

“…yes, in the obscured sky a moon does float, newly, a wishing moon, a sliver of ancient rock, a goddess, a wink.”

Art for Winter – Part III of III: George Loftus Noyes (American, 1864-1954)

Below – “Haystacks”

Musings in Autumn: Paul F. Kortpeter

“Snow harder! Snow more!
Snow blizzards galore!
I can’t get enough
Of the fluffy white stuff!
Snow! Snow! Snow!
Snow a ton! Snow a heap!
Snow ten feet deep!
I wouldn’t cry
If it snowed til July.
Snow! Snow! Snow!”

British Art – H. R. Bell

In the words of one writer, “Born 1976 in Berkshire, H R Bell graduated from the Courtauld Institute of Art with a First Class Honours Degree in the History of Art. After graduating she studied Fine Art at the Surikov Institute, Moscow and the Repin Academy of Fine Arts, St Petersburg.”

A Third Poem for Today

“To Helen About Her Hair”
By Robinson Jeffers

Your hair is long and wonderful;
It is dark, with golden
Lights in the length of it.

Long, lovely, liquid, glorious
Is your hair, and lustrous,
Scented with summertime.

Beware when you are combing it,
In the nights and mornings,
Shaking its splendor out.

I bid you comb it carefully,
For my soul is caught there,
Wound in the web of it.

Below – Evelyn De Morgan: “Helen of Troy”

Russian Art – Volodia Popov

In the words of one writer, “Volodia Popov is the artist for whom there does not exist any stylistic border.
The horizons of his creativity are opened widely to meet the seven winds. At any time filled with salty energy, sails can transfer the clipper of his inexhaustible imagination to unfamiliar mysterious coast of new terra incognita.”

Musings in Autumn: Bob Berman

“Once the ice-forming process is started, more molecules join the party, and the crystal grows. It can ultimately become either a snowflake or a rough granule of ice called by the odd name graupel. A snowflake contains ten quintillion water molecules. That’s ten million trillion. Ten snowflakes—which can fit on your thumb tip—have the same number of molecules as there are grains of sand on the earth. Or stars in the visible universe. How many flakes, how many molecules fashioned the snowy landscape I was observing as I drove east? It numbed the brain.”

A Fourth Poem for Today

“Diana of the Hunt”
By Forceythe Willson

All can see, in the shining places,
Vestiges of her classic graces;
Where her footsteps, fleet and stark,
Have beautifully embossed the dark.

We know indeed, that the stately and golden
Antlers, hunters and heroes olden,
Wood-nymph, satyr, and sylvan faun.—
Goddess and stag, are gone!—all gone!
But still,—as strange as it may appear,—

Sometimes when the nights are bright and clear,
The long-breathed hounds are heard to bay
Over the hills and far away!
And lovers who walk at Love’s high Noon,
See something flash in the light of the moon,

As a shining stag swept through the sky,
And the chase of the goddess were up, on high.
But be this as it may, in sooth,
It is only in the pursuit of Truth,
That the Soul shall overtake and possess

The most exalted Happiness.

Below – Statue of Artemis (Diana), Palace of Versailles

Musings in Autumn: Ursula K. Le Guin

“You can go home again, the General Temporal Theory asserts, so long as you understand that home is a place where you have never been.”

American Art – Part I of III: Herman Dudley Murphy (1867-1945)

In the words of one writer, “Born in Marlborough, Massachusetts, in 1867, Hermann Dudley Murphy attended Boston’s Chauncey School and enrolled in the Boston Museum School in 1886, studying under Otto Grundmann and Joseph DeCamp.  He worked as an illustrator for various newspapers and magazines before traveling to Paris in 1891, where he spent the next five years. Murphy continued his studies at the Académie Julian and was introduced to the work of Whistler and the Aesthetic Movement, which would come to influence his artistic style. He produced tonalist landscapes and figures paintings, and exhibited portraits at the Paris Salon in 1895. Two years later, he and his new wife, Caroline Bowles, returned to the United States and settled in Winchester, Massachusetts.”

Below – “Music Boats”; “March Landscape near Mt. Monadnock”; “Morelos, Mexico”; “Beach Scene”; “A Bridge in Puerto Rico”; “The Azalea.” 

Musings in Autumn: Barry Lopez

“I think of two landscapes- one outside the self, the other within. The external landscape is the one we see-not only the line and color of the land and its shading at different times of the day, but also its plants and animals in season, its weather, its geology… If you walk up, say, a dry arroyo in the Sonoran Desert you will feel a mounding and rolling of sand and silt beneath your foot that is distinctive. You will anticipate the crumbling of the sedimentary earth in the arroyo bank as your hand reaches out, and in that tangible evidence you will sense the history of water in the region. Perhaps a black-throated sparrow lands in a paloverde bush… the smell of the creosote bush….all elements of the land, and what I mean by ‘the landscape.’
The second landscape I think of is an interior one, a kind of projection within a person of a part of the exterior landscape. Relationships in the exterior landscape include those that are named and discernible, such as the nitrogen cycle, or a vertical sequence of Ordovician limestone, and others that are uncodified or ineffable, such as winter light falling on a particular kind of granite, or the effect of humidity on the frequency of a blackpoll warbler’s burst of song….the shape and character of these relationships in a person’s thinking, I believe, are deeply influenced by where on this earth one goes, what one touches, the patterns one observes in nature- the intricate history of one’s life in the land, even a life in the city, where wind, the chirp of birds, the line of a falling leaf, are known. These thoughts are arranged, further, according to the thread of one’s moral, intellectual, and spiritual development. The interior landscape responds to the character and subtlety of an exterior landscape; the shape of the individual mind is affected by land as it is by genes.
Among the Navajo, the land is thought to exhibit sacred order…each individual undertakes to order his interior landscape according to the exterior landscape. To succeed in this means to achieve a balanced state of mental health…Among the various sung ceremonies of this people-Enemyway, Coyoteway, Uglyway- there is one called Beautyway. It is, in part, a spiritual invocation of the order of the exterior universe, that irreducible, holy complexity that manifests itself as all things changing through time (a Navajo definition of beauty).”

Below – Navajo Beauty Way sand painter.

A Fifth Poem for Today

“Each Moment a White Bull Steps Shining into the World”
By Jane Hirshfield

If the gods bring to you
a strange and frightening creature,
accept the gift
as if it were one you had chosen.

Say the accustomed prayers,
oil the hooves well,
caress the small ears with praise.

Have the new halter of woven silver
embedded with jewels.
Spare no expense, pay what is asked,
when a gift arrives from the sea.

Treat it as you yourself
would be treated,
brought speechless and naked
into the court of a king.

And when the request finally comes,
do not hesitate even an instant—

Stroke the white throat,
the heavy, trembling dewlaps
you’ve come to believe were yours,
and plunge in the knife.

Not once
did you enter the pasture
without pause,
without yourself trembling.
That you came to love it, that was the gift.

Let the envious gods take back what they can.

Musings in Autumn: John Muir

“Bears are made of the same dust as we, and they breathe the same winds and drink of the same waters. A bear’s days are warmed by the same sun, his dwellings are overdomed by the same blue sky, and his life turns and ebbs with heart pulsing like ours. He was poured from the same first fountain. And whether he at last goes to our stingy Heaven or not, he has terrestrial immortality. His life, not long, not short, knows no beginning, no ending. To him life unstinted, unplanned, is above the accidents of time, and his years, markless and boundless, equal eternity.”

Below – John Nieto: “Grizzly Bear”

American Art – Part II of III: Tony Bass

Tony Bass (born 1943) earned an MFA from the University of Texas.

Below – “Blackbird”; “Rush”; “Wheeling Hawk”; “New Age Nike”; “Koan”; “Stele.”

Musings in Autumn: Peter Matthiessen

“The light irradiates white peaks of Annapurna marching down the sky, in the great rampart that spreads east and west for eighteen hundred miles, the Himalaya- the alaya (abode, or home) of hima (snow).”

Below – The Annapurna range seen from the top of Thorong-la (Thorong Pass – 17,769 ft)) in Nepal. (A personal note: I have stood in the exact spot where this photograph was taken.)

American Art – Part III of III: Lee Alban

In the words of one writer, “Lee Alban is a graduate of the Schuler School of Fine Arts in Baltimore, Maryland. His work is founded in the traditions of the Old Masters, grinding his paints from powdered pigments and preparing canvasses by hand. He produces his own medium based on the teachings of Jacques Maroger and Ann Didusch Schuler. Lee operates a studio in Havre de Grace, Maryland, where he teaches oil painting and watercolor techniques.”

Below – Dreams Are Wiser Than Men”; “Sunset, Moore County Texas”; “Downtown Kilgore, 1939”; “Damask”; “The Airport Diner”; “Know the River Has Its Destination.”

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