W H Auden: Musée des Beaux Arts

About suffering they were never wrong,
The Old Masters; how well, they understood
Its human position; how it takes place
While someone else is eating or opening a window or just walking dully along;
How, when the aged are reverently, passionately waiting
For the miraculous birth, there always must be
Children who did not specially want it to happen, skating
On a pond at the edge of the wood:
They never forgot
That even the dreadful martyrdom must run its course
Anyhow in a corner, some untidy spot
Where the dogs go on with their doggy life and the torturer’s horse
Scratches its innocent behind on a tree.

In Breughel’s Icarus, for instance: how everything turns away
Quite leisurely from the disaster; the ploughman may
Have heard the splash, the forsaken cry,
But for him it was not an important failure; the sun shone
As it had to on the white legs disappearing into the green
Water; and the expensive delicate ship that must have seen
Something amazing, a boy falling out of the sky,
had somewhere to get to and sailed calmly on.

W H Auden, 1907-1973: Musée des Beaux Arts, 1938

Image: Pieter Breughel. The Fall of Icarus
Oil-tempera, 29 inches x 44 inches. Museum of Fine Arts, Brussels

William Carlos Williams: Landscape With The Fall Of Icarus

According to Brueghel
when Icarus fell
it was spring

a farmer was ploughing
his field
the whole pageantry

of the year was
awake tingling
near

the edge of the sea
concerned
with itself

sweating in the sun
that melted
the wings’ wax

unsignificantly
off the coast
there was

a splash quite unnoticed
this was
Icarus drowning

 

William Carlos Williams, 1883-1963: Landscape with the Fall of Icarus, 1962

Image: Pieter Breughel, c 1525-9 – 1569. The Fall of Icarus. c. 1560s. Oil-tempera, 29 inches x 44 inches. Museum of Fine Arts, Brussels.

Philip Larkin – The Card-Players, 1970

Adrian Brouwer The Card Players

Jan van Hogspeuw staggers to the door
And pisses at the dark. Outside, the rain
Courses in cart-ruts down the deep mud lane.
Inside, Dirk Dogstoerd pours himself some more,
And holds a cinder to his clay with tongs,
Belching out smoke. Old Prijck snores with the gale,
His skull face firelit; someone behind drinks ale,
And opens mussels, and croaks scraps of songs
Towards the ham-hung rafters about love.
Dirk deals the cards. Wet century-wide trees
Clash in surrounding starlessness above
This lamplit cave, where Jan turns back and farts,
Gobs at the grate, and hits the queen of hearts.

Rain, wind and fire! The secret, bestial peace!

Philip Larkin, 1922-1985 The Card-Players

The Card-Players, 6 May 1970, from, High Windows, 1974. Published by Faber and Faber, London

Image: Adrian Brouwer, 1605/6-1638,  Kaartspelers en Brassers / The Card Players, c. 1630s, oil on panel, 25 x 39 cm, Koninklijk Museum voor Schone Kunsten, Antwerp / Musée Royaux des Beaux-Arts, Brussels, Belgium

Louise Bogan: Portrait

She has no need to fear the fall
Of harvest from the laddered reach
Of orchards, nor the tide gone ebbing
From the steep beach.

Nor hold to pain’s effrontery
Her body’s bulwark, stern and savage,
Nor be a glass, where to forsee
Another’s ravage.

What she has gathered, and what lost,
She will not find to lose again.
She is possessed by time, who once
Was loved by men.

 ——————————————

Louise Bogan, Portrait

From: Body of this Death, Poems Published by Robert M. McBride, New York, 1923

Rupert Brooke: Fragment on Painters

There is an evil which that race attaints
Who represent god’s world with oily paints,
who mock the universe, so rare and sweet,
with spots of colour on a canvas sheet,
Defile the lovely and insult the Good
By scrawling upon little bits of wood.
They’d snare the moon, and catch the immortal sun
With madder brown and pale vermilion,
Entrap an English evening’s magic hush. . .

————–

Rupert Brooke. 1887 – 1915: Fragment on Painters (circa 1912)

Lord Byron: To Mary, On Receiving Her Picture

This faint resemblance of thy charms,
(Though strong as mortal art could give,)
My constant heart of fear disarms,
Revives my hopes, and bids me live.

Here, I can trace the locks of gold
Which round thy snowy forehead wave;
The cheeks which sprung from Beauty’s mould,
The lips, which made me Beauty’s slave.

Here I can trace—ah, no! that eye,
Whose azure floats in liquid fire,
Must all the painter’s art defy,
And bid him from the task retire.

Here, I behold its beauteous hue;
But where’s the beam so sweetly straying,
Which gave a lustre to its blue,
Like Luna o’er the ocean playing?

Sweet copy! far more dear to me,
Lifeless, unfeeling as thou art,
Than all the living forms could be,
Save her who plac’d thee next my heart.

She plac’d it, sad, with needless fear,
Lest time might shake my wavering soul,
Unconscious that her image there
Held every sense in fast control.

Thro’ hours, thro’ years, thro’ time, ’twill cheer—
My hope, in gloomy moments, raise;
In life’s last conflict ’twill appear,
And meet my fond, expiring gaze.

Lord Byron, 1788-1824: To Mary, On Receiving Her Picture

Charles Bukowski: Cows In Art Class

good weather
is like
good women-
it doesn’t always happen
and when it does
it doesn’t
always last.
man is
more stable:
if he’s bad
there’s more chance
he’ll stay that way,
or if he’s good
he might hang
on,
but a woman
is changed
by
children
age
diet
conversation
sex
the moon
the absence or
presence of sun
or good times.
a woman must be nursed
into subsistence
by love
where a man can become
stronger
by being hated.
I am drinking tonight in Spangler’s Bar
and I remember the cows
I once painted in Art class
and they looked good
they looked better than anything
in here. I am drinking in Spangler’s Bar
wondering which to love and which

to hate, but the rules are gone:

I love and hate only

myself-
they stand outside me
like an orange dropped from the table
and rolling away; it’s what I’ve got to
decide:
kill myself or
love myself?
which is the treason?
where’s the information
coming from?
books…like broken glass:
I wouldn’t wipe my ass with ’em
yet, it’s getting
darker[1]à, see?
(we drink here and speak to
each other and
seem knowing.)
buy the cow with the biggest
tits
buy the cow with the biggest
rump.
present arms.
the bartender slides me a beer
it runs down the bar
like an Olympic sprinter
and the pair of pliers that is my hand
stops it, lifts it,
golden piss of dull temptation,
I drink and
stand there
the weather bad for cows
but my brush is ready
to stroke up
the green grass straw eye
sadness takes me all over
and I drink the beer straight down
order a shot
fast
to give me the guts and the love to
go
on.

——————–

Charles Bukowski, 1920-1994: Cows In Art Class

from “poems written before jumping out of an 8 story window” – 1966

Charles Bukowski: On Going Back To The Street After Viewing An Art Show

they talk down through
the centuries to us,

and this we need more and more,

the statues and paintings
in midnight age
as we go along
holding dead hands.



and we would say

rather than delude the knowing:

a damn good show,

but hardly enough for a horse to eat,

and out on the sunshine street where
eyes are dabbled in metazoan faces
i decide again

that in theses centuries

they have done very well

considering the nature of their
brothers:

it’s more than good

that some of them,

(closer really to the field-mouse than
falcon)

have been bold enough to try.

Charles Bukowski, 1920-1994
On Going Back To The Street After Viewing An Art Show

John Donne, 1572-1631: Elegy V: His Picture

Here take my picture; though I bid farewell
Thine, in my heart, where my soul dwells, shall dwell.
‘Tis like me now, but I dead, ’twill be more
When we are shadows both, than ’twas before.
When weather-beaten I come back, my hand
Perhaps with rude oars torn, or sun beams tann’d,
My face and breast of haircloth, and my head
With care’s rash sudden storms being o’erspread,
My body’a sack of bones, broken within,
And powder’s blue stains scatter’d on my skin;
If rival fools tax thee to’have lov’d a man
So foul and coarse as, oh, I may seem then,
This shall say what I was, and thou shalt say,
“Do his hurts reach me? doth my worth decay?
Or do they reach his judging mind, that he
Should now love less, what he did love to see?
That which in him was fair and delicate,
Was but the milk which in love’s childish state
Did nurse it; who now is grown strong enough
To feed on that, which to disus’d tastes seems tough.”

————————————————————————

John Donne, 1572-1631.   Elegy V: His Picture

John Donne, Poems, by J. D. With elegies on the authors death (M. F. for J. Marriot, 1633).