Sentient in San Francisco – 30 August 2019

This Date in Art History: Born 30 August 1852 – J. Alden Weir, an American painter: Part I of II.

Below – “Idle Hours”; “Afternoon by the Pond”; “Autumn on the River”; “The Black Lace Dress”; “Face in the Shadow”; “Fireside Dreams.”

This Date in Literary History: Died 30 August 2013 – Seamus Heaney, an Irish poet, playwright, translator, and recipient of the 1995 Nobel Prize in Literature: Part I of II.

Some quotes from the work of Seamus Heaney:

“Hope is not optimism, which expects things to turn out well, but something rooted in the conviction that there is good worth working for.”
“Believe that a further shore
is reachable from here.”
“I can’t think of a case where poems changed the world, but what they do is they change people’s understanding of what’s going on in the world.”
“Even if the hopes you started out with are dashed, hope has to be maintained.”
“No bit of the natural world is more valuable or more vulnerable than the tree bit. Nothing is more like ourselves, standing upright, caught between heaven and earth, frail at the extremities, yet strong at the central trunk, and nothing is closer to us at the beginning and at the end, providing the timber boards that frame both the cradle and the coffin.”
“I have begun to think of life as a series of ripples widening out from an original center.”
“Walk on air against your better judgement.”
“The way we are living, timorous or bold, will have been our life.”
“All I know is a door into the dark.”
“I drink to keep body and soul apart.”

This Date in Art History: Born 30 August 1852 – J. Alden Weir, an American painter: Part II of II.

Below – “The Orchid”; “In the Livingroom”; “Lady in White”; “The Letter”; “On the Shore”; “The Red Bridge.”


This Date in Literary History: Died 30 August 2013 – Seamus Heaney, an Irish poet, playwright, translator, and recipient of the 1995 Nobel Prize in Literature: Part II of II.

“Blackberry-Picking”
by Seamus Heaney

Late August, given heavy rain and sun
For a full week, the blackberries would ripen.
At first, just one, a glossy purple clot
Among others, red, green, hard as a knot.
You ate that first one and its flesh was sweet
Like thickened wine: summer’s blood was in it
Leaving stains upon the tongue and lust for
Picking. Then red ones inked up and that hunger
Sent us out with milk cans, pea tins, jam-pots
Where briars scratched and wet grass bleached our boots.
Round hayfields, cornfields and potato-drills
We trekked and picked until the cans were full
Until the tinkling bottom had been covered
With green ones, and on top big dark blobs burned
Like a plate of eyes. Our hands were peppered
With thorn pricks, our palms sticky as Bluebeard’s.
We hoarded the fresh berries in the byre.
But when the bath was filled we found a fur,
A rat-grey fungus, glutting on our cache.
The juice was stinking too. Once off the bush
The fruit fermented, the sweet flesh would turn sour.
I always felt like crying. It wasn’t fair
That all the lovely canfuls smelt of rot.
Each year I hoped they’d keep, knew they would not.


This Date in Art History: Born 30 August 1860 – Isaac Levitan, a Russian painter and illustrator.

Below – “Autumn Day. Sokolniki”; “Birch Forest”; “Water lilies”; “Spring in Italy”; “Dusk”; “Silence.”


A Poem for Today

“The Envoy”
by Jane Hirshfield

One day in that room, a small rat.
Two days later, a snake.

Who, seeing me enter,
whipped the long stripe of his
body under the bed,
then curled like a docile house-pet.

I don’t know how either came or left.
Later, the flashlight found nothing.

For a year I watched
as something—terror? happiness? grief?—
entered and then left my body.

Not knowing how it came in,
Not knowing how it went out.

It hung where words could not reach it.
It slept where light could not go.
Its scent was neither snake nor rat,
neither sensualist nor ascetic.

There are openings in our lives
of which we know nothing.

Through them
the belled herds travel at will,
long-legged and thirsty, covered with foreign dust.

This Date in Art History: Died 30 August 1935 – Named Ismail, a Turkish painter.

Below – “The Post Neuf in Paris”; “Country House”; “Landscape”;
“Threshing”; “Men on Deck.”


A Poem for Today

“The Day”
by Peter Everwine

We walked at the edge of the sea, the dog,
still young then, running ahead of us.

Few people.  Gulls.  A flock of pelicans
circled beyond the swells, then closed
their wings and dropped head-long
into the dazzle of light and sea.  You clapped
your hands; the day grew brilliant.

Later we sat at a small table
with wine and food that tasted of the sea.

A perfect day, we said to one another,
so that even when the day ended
and the lights of houses among the hills
came on like a scattering of embers,
we watched it leave without regret.

That night, easing myself toward sleep,
I thought how blindly we stumble ahead
with such hope, a light flares briefly—Ah, Happiness!
then we turn and go on our way again.

But happiness, too, goes on its way,
and years from where we were, I lie awake
in the dark and suddenly it returns—
that day by the sea, that happiness,

though it is not the same happiness,
not the same darkness.

This Date in Art History: Born 30 August 1907 – Leonor Fini, an Argentine/French painter and illustrator.

Below – “Tete de femme”; “Patisseries”; “Portrait of a Woman”;
“Woman in Armor II”; “Portrait of Mrs. H I”; “L’envers d’une geographie.”


A Poem for Today

“The Dogs at Live Oak Beach, Santa Cruz”
By Alicia Ostriker

As if there could be a world
Of absolute innocence
In which we forget ourselves

The owners throw sticks
And half-bald tennis balls
Toward the surf
And the happy dogs leap after them
As if catapulted—

Black dogs, tan dogs,
Tubes of glorious muscle—

Pursuing pleasure
More than obedience
They race, skid to a halt in the wet sand,
Sometimes they’ll plunge straight into
The foaming breakers

Like diving birds, letting the green turbulence
Toss them, until they snap and sink

Teeth into floating wood
Then bound back to their owners
Shining wet, with passionate speed
For nothing,
For absolutely nothing but joy.

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