“Icebound River” (c1915, oil on canvas)
by Charles Rosen
Two for Tuesday: Seemingly Alone
“Evening” (1930, oil on canvas)
by Oluf Høst
Peaches in November
On the peach’s wide sieve of branches
the buds crouch already in whitish caterpillar fur.
All winter they must hold tight, as the supple
limbs are strained wide by the snow’s weight,
as the ice coats them and turns them to glinting
small lights that splinter the sun to prickles.
Must hold tight against the wet warm tongue
of the thaw that lolls off the Gulf Stream
smelling of seaweed and the South, as if
not spring visited but summer in January.
Hold tight against the early March sun
with the wild tulips already opening
against the brown earth like painted mouths
when the ice will return as a thief
to take what has too widely trusted.
The news they carry can only be told once
to the bees each year. The bud is the idea
of sweetness, of savor, of round heft
waiting to build itself. As the winter
clamps down they hibernate in fur,
little polar bears on red twigs
dreaming of turning one sun into many.
“Night in Saint-Cloud” (1892, oil on paper)
by Edvard Munch
The Unknown Self
So much of what delights and troubles you
Happens on a surface
You take for ground.
Your mind thinks your life alone,
Your eyes consider air your nearest neighbor,
Yet it seems that a little below your heart
There houses in you an unknown self
Who prefers the patterns of the dark
And is not persuaded by the eye’s affection
Or caught by the flash of thought.
It is a self that enjoys contemplative patience
With all your unfolding expression,
Is never drawn to break into light
Though you entangle yourself in unworthiness
And misjudge what you do and who you are.
It presides within like an evening freedom
That will often see you enchanted by twilight
Without ever recognizing the falling night,
It resembles the under-earth of your visible life:
All you do and say and think is fostered
Deep in its opaque and prevenient clay.
It dwells in a strange, yet rhythmic ease
That is not ruffled by disappointment;
It presides in a deeper current of time
Free from the force of cause and sequence
That otherwise shapes your life.
Were it to break forth into day,
Its dark light might quench your mind,
For it knows how your primeval heart
Sisters every cell of your life
To all your known mind would avoid,
Thus it knows to dwell in you gently,
Offering you only discrete glimpses
Of how you construct your life.
At times, it will lead you strangely,
Magnetized by some resonance
That ambushes your vigilance.
It works most resolutely at night
As the poet who draws your dreams,
Creating for you many secret doors,
Decorated with pictures of your hunger;
It has the dignity of the angelic
That knows you to your roots,
Always awaiting your deeper befriending
To take you beyond the threshold of want,
Where all your diverse strainings
Can come to wholesome ease.
~ John O’Donohue
Music by Rosie Golan, “Can’t Go Back”
- Table Top (stluketmba.wordpress.com)