Art for Today: Born 1 January 1864 – Qi Baishi, a Chinese painter.
Below – “Cicada”; “Preparation”; “Briar”; “Green wine”; “Lotus and Dragonfly”; “Bindweed and grapes.”
A Poem for Today: Born 3 January 1933 – Anne Stevenson, an award-winning British-born American poet.
“Poem for a Daughter”
by Anne Stevenson
‘I think I’m going to have it,’
I said, joking between pains.
The midwife rolled competent
sleeves over corpulent milky arms.
‘Dear, you never have it,
we deliver it.’
A judgement the years proved true.
Certainly I’ve never had you
as you still have me, Caroline.
Why does a mother need a daughter?
Heart’s needle, hostage to fortune,
freedom’s end. Yet nothing’s more perfect
than that bleating, razor-shaped cry
that delivers a mother to her baby.
The bloodcord snaps that held
their sphere together. The child,
tiny and alone, creates the mother.
A woman’s life is her own
until it is taken away
by a first, particular cry.
Then she is not alone
but a part of the premises
of everything there is:
a time, a tribe, a war.
When we belong to the world
we become what we are.
Below – Gustave Klimt: “The mother and the child”
Art for Today: Died 3 January 1965 – Milton Avery, an American painter.
Below – “Green Sea”; “Autumn”; “White Moon”; “Bridge to the Sea”; “Oregon Coast”; “Blue Nude.”
A Poem for Today: Born 3 January 1886 – John Gould Fletcher, an American poet and recipient of the Pulitzer Prize.
“Chinese Poet Among Barbarians”
by John Gould Fletcher
The rain drives, drives endlessly,
Heavy threads of rain;
The wind beats at the shutters,
The surf drums on the shore;
Drunken telegraph poles lean sideways;
Dank summer cottages gloom hopelessly;
Bleak factory-chimneys are etched on the filmy distance,
Tepid with rain.
It seems I have lived for a hundred years
Among these things;
And it is useless for me now to make complaint against them.
For I know I shall never escape from this dull barbarian country,
Where there is none now left to lift a cool jade winecup,
Or share with me a single human thought.
Below – Atlantic City, New Jersey.
Art for Today – Born 4 January 1884 – Guy Pene du Bois, an American painter.
Below – “An American Oriental”; “Elsa”; “young woman seated on a chair”; “Women in Studio”; “The Couple”; “The Confidence Man.”
Some quotes from the work of Gao Xingjian:
“If you want to do anything, do it now, without compromise or concession, because you have only one life. Dreams are more real than reality itself, they’re closer to the self.”
“Loneliness is a prerequisite for freedom. Freedom depends on the ability to reflect, and reflection can only begin when one is alone.”
“The human species does not necessarily move in stages from progress to progress … history and civilization do not advance in tandem. From the stagnation of Medieval Europe to the decline and chaos in recent times on the mainland of Asia and to the catastrophes of two world wars in the twentieth century, the methods of killing people became increasingly sophisticated. Scientific and technological progress certainly does not imply that humankind as a result becomes more civilized.”
“Some distance away is a white azalea bush which stuns me with its stately beauty. This is pristine natural beauty. it is irrepressible, seeks no reward, and is without goal, a beauty derived neither from symbolism nor metaphor and needing neither analogies nor associations.”
“To subvert is not the aim of literature, its value lies in discovering and revealing what is rarely known, little known, thought to be known but in fact not very well known of the truth of the human world. It would seem that truth is the unassailable and most basic quality of literature.”
“Truth refuses to be subservient to either politics or the market.”
“You contemplate and you wander without any worries, between heaven and earth, in your own private world, and in this way you acquire supreme freedom.”
Below – “Forest Lake”; “Old Pine Trees”; “Coastal Landscape”; “Borgoy Island”; “View of Tysvaer”; “Summer Landscape, Thunder looms.”
A Poem for Today: Born 5 January 1926 – W. D. Snodgrass, an American poet and recipient of the Pulitzer Prize.
by W. D. Snodgrass
The green catalpa tree has turned
All white; the cherry blooms once more.
In one whole year I haven’t learned
A blessed thing they pay you for.
The blossoms snow down in my hair;
The trees and I will soon be bare.
The trees have more than I to spare.
The sleek, expensive girls I teach,
Younger and pinker every year,
Bloom gradually out of reach.
The pear tree lets its petals drop
Like dandruff on a tabletop.
The girls have grown so young by now
I have to nudge myself to stare.
This year they smile and mind me how
My teeth are falling with my hair.
In thirty years I may not get
Younger, shrewder, or out of debt.
The tenth time, just a year ago,
I made myself a little list
Of all the things I’d ought to know,
Then told my parents, analyst,
And everyone who’s trusted me
I’d be substantial, presently.
I haven’t read one book about
A book or memorized one plot.
Or found a mind I did not doubt.
I learned one date. And then forgot.
And one by one the solid scholars
Get the degrees, the jobs, the dollars.
And smile above their starchy collars.
I taught my classes Whitehead’s notions;
One lovely girl, a song of Mahler’s.
Lacking a source-book or promotions,
I showed one child the colors of
A luna moth and how to love.
I taught myself to name my name,
To bark back, loosen love and crying;
To ease my woman so she came,
To ease an old man who was dying.
I have not learned how often I
Can win, can love, but choose to die.
I have not learned there is a lie
Love shall be blonder, slimmer, younger;
That my equivocating eye
Loves only by my body’s hunger;
That I have forces, true to feel,
Or that the lovely world is real.
While scholars speak authority
And wear their ulcers on their sleeves,
My eyes in spectacles shall see
These trees procure and spend their leaves.
There is a value underneath
The gold and silver in my teeth.
Though trees turn bare and girls turn wives,
We shall afford our costly seasons;
There is a gentleness survives
That will outspeak and has its reasons.
There is a loveliness exists,
Preserves us, not for specialists.
Below – A catalpa tree in bloom.
Below – “The Roses of Heliogabalus”; “Sappho and Alcaeus”; “A Dedication to Bacchus”; “Silver Favourites”; “Spring”; “An Eloquent Silence.”
by Carolyn D. Wright
“Everything Good between Men and Women”
has been written in mud and butter
and barbecue sauce. The walls and
the floors used to be gorgeous.
The socks off-white and a near match.
The quince with fire blight
but we get two pints of jelly
in the end. Long walks strengthen
the back. You with a fever blister
and myself with a sty. Eyes
have we and we are forever prey
to each other’s teeth. The torrents
go over us. Thunder has not harmed
anyone we know. The river coursing
through us is dirty and deep. The left
hand protects the rhythm. Watch
your head. No fires should be
unattended. Especially when wind. Each
receives a free swiss army knife.
The first few tongues are clearly
preparatory. The impression
made by yours I carry to my grave. It is
just so sad so creepy so beautiful.
Bless it. We have so little time
to learn, so much… The river
courses dirty and deep. Cover the lettuce.
Call it a night. O soul. Flow on. Instead.
Below – Raul Lara: “Faces Serie 7”
This Date in Art History: Died 8 January 1925 – George Bellows, an American painter.
Below – “Dempsey and Firpo”; “Cliff Dwellers”; “Men of the Docks”; “Summer Night, Riverside Drive”; “Evening Blue”; “Summer Fantasy.”
This Date in Literary History: Born 8 January 1927 – Charles Tomlinson, an award-winning English poet.
“A Rose for Janet”
by Charles Tomlinson
this rose is only
an ink-and-paper rose
but see how it grows and goes
beneath your eyes:
a rose in flower
has had (almost) its vegetable hour
rose of spaces and typography
can reappear at will
whenever you repeat
this ceremony of the eye
from the beginning
Below – “Rose,” courtesy of Radhapada.
Below – “The Radiant Sisters”; “Persephone”; “Irezumi Dreams”;”I Am From Elsewhere”; “Metamorphosis”; “Blossom #2.”
“Green Pear Tree in September”
by Freya Manfred
On a hill overlooking the Rock River
my father’s pear tree shimmers,
in perfect peace,
covered with hundreds of ripe pears
with pert tops, plump bottoms,
and long curved leaves.
Until the green-haloed tree
rose up and sang hello,
I had forgotten. . .
He planted it twelve years ago,
when he was seventy-three,
so that in September
he could stroll down
with the sound of the crickets
rising and falling around him,
and stand, naked to the waist,
slightly bent, sucking juice
from a ripe pear.
Below – Pierre Auguste Renoir: “The Pear Tree”