Sentient in San Francisco – 1 March 2019

Greeting March

Below – Bill Sharp: “March sky cloud study”


Art for March – Winslow Homer: “The Green Hill”


Musings in March: Hal Borland

“March is a tomboy with tousled hair, a mischievous smile, mud on her shoes and a laugh in her voice.”


Art for March – Thomas Eakins: “The Artist’s Wife and His Setter Dog”


A Poem for March

“Dear March – Come in -“
by Emily Dickinson

Dear March – Come in –
How glad I am –
I hoped for you before –
Put down your Hat –
You must have walked –
How out of Breath you are –
Dear March, how are you, and the Rest –
Did you leave Nature well –
Oh March, Come right upstairs with me –
I have so much to tell –

I got your Letter, and the Birds –
The Maples never knew that you were coming –
I declare – how Red their Faces grew –
But March, forgive me –
And all those Hills you left for me to Hue –
There was no Purple suitable –
You took it all with you –

Who knocks? That April –
Lock the Door –
I will not be pursued –
He stayed away a Year to call
When I am occupied –
But trifles look so trivial
As soon as you have come

That blame is just as dear as Praise
And Praise as mere as Blame –


Art for March – Edward Hopper: “Clamdigger”


This Date in Literary History: Born 1 March 1917 – Robert Lowell, an American poet, recipient of the National Book Award, and two-time recipient of the Pulitzer Prize.

“Skunk Hour”
by Robert Lowell

(For Elizabeth Bishop)

Nautilus Island’s hermit
heiress still lives through winter in her Spartan cottage;
her sheep still graze above the sea.
Her son’s a bishop. Her farmer
is first selectman in our village;
she’s in her dotage.

Thirsting for
the hierarchic privacy
of Queen Victoria’s century,
she buys up all
the eyesores facing her shore,
and lets them fall.

The season’s ill—
we’ve lost our summer millionaire,
who seemed to leap from an L. L. Bean
catalogue. His nine-knot yawl
was auctioned off to lobstermen.
A red fox stain covers Blue Hill.

And now our fairy
decorator brightens his shop for fall;
his fishnet’s filled with orange cork,
orange, his cobbler’s bench and awl;
there is no money in his work,
he’d rather marry.

One dark night,
my Tudor Ford climbed the hill’s skull;
I watched for love-cars. Lights turned down,
they lay together, hull to hull,
where the graveyard shelves on the town. . . .
My mind’s not right.

A car radio bleats,
“Love, O careless Love . . . .”I hear
my ill-spirit sob in each blood cell,
as if my hand were at its throat. . . .
I myself am hell;
nobody’s here—

only skunks, that search
in the moonlight for a bite to eat.
They march on their soles up Main Street:
white stripes, moonstruck eyes’ red fire
under the chalk-dry and spar spire
of the Trinitarian Church.

I stand on top
of our back steps and breathe the rich air—
a mother skunk with her column of kittens swills the garbage pail
She jabs her wedge-head in a cup
of sour cream, drops her ostrich tail,
and will not scare.

Art for March – Yoshitoshi: “March: Nagao of Bishuro beneath a Cherry Tree in the Yoshiwara”

Musings in March: Charles Dickens

“It was one of those March days when the sun shines hot and the wind blows cold:  when it is summer in the light, and winter in the shade.”


Art for March – Pablo Picasso: “Nude, Green Leaves, and Bust”


A Poem for March

“March Days Return With Their Covert Light”
by Pablo Neruda

March days return with their covert light,
and huge fish swim through the sky,
vague earthly vapours progress in secret,
things slip to silence one by one.
Through fortuity, at this crisis of errant skies,
you reunite the lives of the sea to that of fire,
grey lurchings of the ship of winter
to the form that love carved in the guitar.
O love, O rose soaked by mermaids and spume,
dancing flame that climbs the invisible stairway,
to waken the blood in insomnia’s labyrinth,
so that the waves can complete themselves in the sky,
the sea forget its cargoes and rages,
and the world fall into darkness’s nets.


Art for March – John Nieto: “Cimarron Buffaloes”


This Date in Literary History: Born 1 March 1921 – Richard Wilbur, an American poet, translator, essayist, and two-time recipient of the Pulitzer Prize.

“A Barred Owl”
by Richard Wilbur

The warping night air having brought the boom
Of an owl’s voice into her darkened room,
We tell the wakened child that all she heard
Was an odd question from a forest bird,
Asking of us, if rightly listened to,
“Who cooks for you?” and then “Who cooks for you?”

Words, which can make our terrors bravely clear,
Can also thus domesticate a fear,
And send a small child back to sleep at night
Not listening for the sound of stealthy flight
Or dreaming of some small thing in a claw
Borne up to some dark branch and eaten raw.

Art for March – Chinese Folk Art: “March Market, Over the Bridge”


Musings in March: Su Shi

“To what can our life on earth be likened?
To a flock of geese,
alighting on the snow.
Sometimes leaving a trace of their passage.”


Art for March – Claude Monet: “Floating Ice Near Vetheuil”


A Poem for March

“A Walk In March”
by Grace Paley

This hill
crossed with broken pines and maples
lumpy with the burial mounds of
uprooted hemlocks (hurricane
of ’38) out of their
rotting hearts generations rise
trying once more to become
the forest
just beyond them
tall enough to be called trees
in their youth like aspen a bouquet
of young beech is gathered
they still wear last summer’s leaves
the lightest brown almost translucent
how their stubbornness has decorated
the winter woods
on this narrow path ice tries
to keep the black undecaying oak leaves
in its crackling grip    it’s become
too hard to walk    at last a
sunny patch    oh!    i’m in water
to my ankles   APRIL


Art for March – Vincent van Gogh: “Pink Peach Tree in Blossom”

Musings in March: Lucy Maud Montgomery

“March came in that winter like the meekest and mildest of lambs, bringing days that were crisp and golden and tingling, each followed by a frosty pink twilight which gradually lost itself in an elfland of moonshine.”


Art for March – Eisen Keisai: “March Cherry Blossom Viewing”

A Poem for March

“The Afternoon Is Bright”
by Antonio Machado

The afternoon is bright,
with spring in the air,
a mild March afternoon,
with the breath of April stirring,
I am alone in the quiet patio
looking for some old untried illusion –
some shadow on the whiteness of the wall
some memory asleep
on the stone rim of the fountain,
perhaps in the air
the light swish of some trailing gown.

Art for March – Eugene Grasset: “Mars (March)”


This Date in Literary History: Born 1 March 1941 – Robert Hass, an American poet, recipient of the National Book Award, and co-recipient of the Pulitzer Prize.

“Meditation at Lagunitas”
By Robert Hass

All the new thinking is about loss.
In this it resembles all the old thinking.
The idea, for example, that each particular erases
the luminous clarity of a general idea. That the clown-
faced woodpecker probing the dead sculpted trunk
of that black birch is, by his presence,
some tragic falling off from a first world
of undivided light. Or the other notion that,
because there is in this world no one thing
to which the bramble of blackberry corresponds,
a word is elegy to what it signifies.
We talked about it late last night and in the voice
of my friend, there was a thin wire of grief, a tone
almost querulous. After a while I understood that,
talking this way, everything dissolves: justice,
pine, hair, woman, you and I. There was a woman
I made love to and I remembered how, holding
her small shoulders in my hands sometimes,
I felt a violent wonder at her presence
like a thirst for salt, for my childhood river
with its island willows, silly music from the pleasure boat,
muddy places where we caught the little orange-silver fish
called pumpkinseed. It hardly had to do with her.
Longing, we say, because desire is full
of endless distances. I must have been the same to her.
But I remember so much, the way her hands dismantled bread,
the thing her father said that hurt her, what
she dreamed. There are moments when the body is as numinous
as words, days that are the good flesh continuing.
Such tenderness, those afternoons and evenings,
saying blackberry, blackberry, blackberry.


Art for March: Charles March Gere: “The Lady of Grey Days”

Welcome, Wonderful March

Below – John Singer Sargent: “Mountain Fire”

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