Greeting February 2019
Below – A. Y. Jackson: “Winter, Charlevoix County”
“It is growing cold. Winter is putting footsteps in the meadow. What whiteness boasts that sun that comes into this wood! One would say milk-colored maidens are dancing on the petals of orchids. How coldly burns our sun! One would say its rays of light are shards of snow, one imagines the sun lives upon a snow crested peak on this day. One would say she is a woman who wears a gown of winter frost that blinds the eyes.”
by Margaret Atwood
Winter. Time to eat fat
and watch hockey. In the pewter mornings, the cat,
a black fur sausage with yellow
Houdini eyes, jumps up on the bed and tries
to get onto my head. It’s his
way of telling whether or not I’m dead.
If I’m not, he wants to be scratched; if I am
He’ll think of something. He settles
on my chest, breathing his breath
of burped-up meat and musty sofas,
purring like a washboard. Some other tomcat,
not yet a capon, has been spraying our front door,
declaring war. It’s all about sex and territory,
which are what will finish us off
in the long run. Some cat owners around here
should snip a few testicles. If we wise
hominids were sensible, we’d do that too,
or eat our young, like sharks.
But it’s love that does us in. Over and over
again, ‘He shoots, he scores!’ and famine
crouches in the bedsheets, ambushing the pulsing
eiderdown, and the windchill factor hits
thirty below, and pollution pours
out of our chimneys to keep us warm.
February, month of despair,
with a skewered heart in the centre.
I think dire thoughts, and lust for French fries
with a splash of vinegar.
Cat, enough of your greedy whining
and your small pink bumhole.
Off my face! You’re the life principle,
more or less, so get going
on a little optimism around here.
Get rid of death. Celebrate increase. Make it be spring.
Below – Endre Penovac: “Black Cat”
This Date in Art History: Born 1 February 1868 – Stefan Luchian, a Romanian painter.
Below – “Portrait of a Woman”; “Safta the Flower Girl”; “The River Meadow at Poduri”; “The Laundress”; “The Millet Beer Seller”;“Interior, Lorica” (Luchian’s last painting).
Musings in February: Alice McDermott
“The day and time itself: late afternoon in early February, was there a moment of the year better suited for despair?”
Below – Edward Hopper: “Day After Funeral”
A Poem for February
“There’s a certain slant of light”
by Emily Dickinson
There’s a certain Slant of light,
Winter Afternoons –
That oppresses, like the Heft
Of Cathedral Tunes –
Heavenly Hurt, it gives us –
We can find no scar,
But internal difference –
Where the Meanings, are –
None may teach it – Any –
‘Tis the seal Despair –
An imperial affliction
Sent us of the Air –
When it comes, the Landscape listens –
Shadows – hold their breath –
When it goes, ’tis like the Distance
On the look of Death –
This Date in Art History: Died 1 February 1924 – Maurice Prendergast, an American painter: Part I of II.
Below – “Blue Mountains”; “Crescent Beach”; “New England Harbor”; “The Grove”; “Salem Willows”; “Madison Square.”
Remembering a Writer on the Date of His Birth: Born 1 February 1927 – Galway Kinnell, an American poet.
by Galway Kinnell
Wait, for now.
Distrust everything, if you have to.
But trust the hours. Haven’t they
carried you everywhere, up to now?
Personal events will become interesting again.
Hair will become interesting.
Pain will become interesting.
Buds that open out of season will become lovely again.
Second-hand gloves will become lovely again,
their memories are what give them
the need for other hands. And the desolation
of lovers is the same: that enormous emptiness
carved out of such tiny beings as we are
asks to be filled; the need
for the new love is faithfulness to the old.
Don’t go too early.
You’re tired. But everyone’s tired.
But no one is tired enough.
Only wait a while and listen.
Music of hair,
Music of pain,
music of looms weaving all our loves again.
Be there to hear it, it will be the only time,
most of all to hear,
the flute of your whole existence,
rehearsed by the sorrows, play itself into total exhaustion.
This Date in Art History: Died 1 February 1924 – Maurice Prendergast, an American painter: Part II of II.
Below – “After the Storm”; “Opal Sea”; “Autumn in New England”; “The Bathers”; “May Day Central Park”; “Spring Flowers.”
“February, when the days of winter seem endless and no amount of wistful recollecting can bring back any air of summer.”
Below – Carol Crisafi: “A Cold Winter Day”
This Date in Art History: Died 1 February 1944 – Piet Mondrian, a Dutch-American painter.
Below – “Willow Grove, Impression of Light”; “Evening, Red Tree”; “Spring Sun, Castle Ruin, Brederode”; “View from the Dunes with Beach and Piers”; “Composition II in Red, Blue, and Yellow”; “Victory Boogie Woogie.”
Art for February – Gustave Courbet: “Deer in a Snowy Landscape”
Below – “Swirling Snow”; “14.12.59”; “5.10.91”; Untitled; “19.06.85”; Untitled.”
Art for February – Pierre-Auguste Renoir: “Snow-covered Landscape”
by Madoka Mayuzumi
Wishing and wanting
to see you,
I step on thin ice.
by Sara Teasdale
I stood beside a hill
Smooth with new-laid snow,
A single star looked out
From the cold evening glow.
There was no other creature
That saw what I could see–
I stood and watched the evening star
As long as it watched me.
“Go to the winter woods: listen there, look, watch, and “the dead months” will give you a subtler secret than any you have yet found in the forest.”
Below – Edmund Wilson Graecen: “Winter Woods”
Below – Kim Hunter: “Aurora Borealis, Yukon Landscape”