Richibi’s Weblog

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Robert Frost

intent this week, as always, on filling my world with poetry, indeed on becoming, learning to be, in fact, a poet, a dream I’ve had for a long, immemorial even, time, I registered for, then found myself in, a class on five early twentieth-century American poets – Robert Frost, Ezra Pound, T.S. Eliot, e.e. cummings, Wallace Stevens – given at the university downtown, I hoped for guidance there and some inspiration

the day was promising, the clouds were rolling by that had settled over the town, clung to it for several days now tenaciously, cherry blossoms heavy on every street awaited merely the unfettered sun to become truly and magnificently enchanting, I did a stint at the courtroom in the morning where my client didn’t show, would’ve interpreted back and forth between French and English for him, her, but left after the time it took for the judge to deliver a warrant, and for the day to have become in the interim glorious  

I’d worn a blue and white check shirt, a golden tie with a spray of countless blueberries on it, under, for the sober air of the judiciary, a tweed sportsjacket, round horn-rimmed glasses made me look, I felt, intelligent, academic, professorial

but a wine-red paisley umbrella touched with royal blue and sandy squares prepared me, I was sure, for an afternoon of poetry instead, fantasy, imagination, not to mention rain should it, however improbably, turn wet, and I knew the courtroom would’ve been able to use some of its fanciful serendipity 

I’d ventured forth therefore ready for any- and everything

                                                                                                                                    not for Frost though, who left me cold

how do you make him relevant, I asked, when the professor looked to us for comments, he’d been reading him merely, one dreary poem after another, waiting for us to break in, we’d been, or I’d been, sitting patiently, deferentially silent

is he only of historical interest or is there anything for us here, in the twenty-first century

the professor, a man with impressive credentials, appeared somewhat non-plussed, expecting reverence, I suspect, for what I considered to be twaddle, the stodgy meanderings of an old colonial man scratching out awkward rhymes in the middle of the night, something Walt Whitman had done supremely well already in his inspired poems, and Mark Twain in unforgettable, witty, pithy, pungent prose   

some in the class tried to pick out some perhaps worthy passages but floundered ultimately in a dearth of them, little by little we came to find Frost not especially pertinent or memorable, not to mention mostly curmudgeonly

here’s one however I found not bad you might’ve read, maybe even enjoyed, as I in fact did

                                                                                                                                    The Road Not Taken

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveller, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I –
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference

Robert Frost

                                                                                                                                    later at home I took on the more promising Pound

                                                                                                                                  yours in art and poetry                                                                                                                                    richibi

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yesterday – December 28,2006

           Girl Reading a Letter at an Open Window, 1657

                                Johannes Vermeer

                                    (1632-1675)

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these earlier “back tracks“, of which the following is one example, are pieces I consider still to be worth your while
please enjoy 
             
                       _______________________
December 28, 2006
                                                                                                                                                                  yesterday for the first time it snowed, as I left the apartment a light but steady moisture began to fall that I suspected might be more than rain, sure enough by the time I´d walked the several minutes to the number 8 which would take me to the Old Masters Picture Gallery, the Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister, in the Zwinger, snowflakes swirled about us like whirling dervishes, light in the flustered air and as merry and playful as the season 
I hopped the Strassenbahn, the tram, which sleekly sailed us along to, then a short length of, the river, which was shrouded there by thickets of trees, but as we turned onto the bridge, the Augustusbrücke, the stately steeples and spires of the Altstadt appeared magically transformed into the enchanted setting of a fairy tale, sprinkled with the dancing fairy dust of the very Brothers Grimm
I got off beside the Catholic Cathedral, St Trinitatis, built in 1738 to 1755, heavy with age, light with spirit, its saints and significant clergy standing watch along the balustrade that lined and determined its roof, surely the bells were ringing but I can´t say for certain, the music was all in my eyes
across the cobblestone square before the Semperoper – the Opera House that Gottfried Semper built between 1838 and 1841, rebuilt from 1871 to 1878 by his son after it burned down in ´69 – people were scurrying about, taking pictures, catching their own trains, while flanking the building´s entrance Goethe and Schiller stood watch, impervious and staunch, beneath the steady and playful flakes, they bore the white frost upon their shoulders and pates with patience and resignation
further along the walls but protected by the shelter of each their private stone niche, Sophocles and Shakespeare to one side, Euripides and Molière on the other, sat soberly watching, unruffled, the snow fall
next door the Zwinger warmly awaited, I checked my coat and scarves with the hat check girl I´ve befriended there, she eagerly announced to the others that I was her friend, I´m sure I smiled and blushed, then made my way to the section I was exploring that day
of the many paintings in a room I always choose the one that I would like to take away more than any of the others, that way I need to examine them all, sometimes even closely
yesterday I quickly passed on a Cornelis Corneliszoon van Haarlem, “Venus, Bacchus and Ceres”, all heavy-haunched and cornucopian, a bird concert complete with sheet music in the trees by a Melchior de Hondecoeter no less, I spent some time with Mathias Stom´s “Old lady with a Candle”, which seemed to owe a lot to Rembrandt or he to him, with Jakob Isaacksz Ruisdael´s “The Hunt”, a dark but stirring landscape with a huge tree dominating the centre and reflected subtly in a river that rippled at its root, a deer was trying to flee across the foreground hunters approaching
a couple of Vermeers were of consequence, one, “The Procuress”, a madam in other words, accepting guilders from a group of men, one of them being so bold as to fondle her breast, left me surprised at so untypical a work of his, but another of a girl reading a letter at a window, replete with his tapestries and textures and a more modest and composed young woman intent on the message that she held, was nearly my first choice, her soft reflection in the open latticed windowpane was genius
 
but a Salomon de Bray, a name unknown to me, had painted in the mid sixteen-hundreds a young man with a crown, but of black roses, the youth could not have been very old, an open mouth spoke of being still eager and curious, age shuts men up and makes them open up only to declare, propound, pontificate
he´d turned to one side so that his neck was lithe and swift, probably alert to a sudden sound, a staff he held in strong but still supple hands suggested he was a wanderer or a shepherd
a white undershirt was mostly buttoned up but a string had not been tied at its neck, its either ends hung loose above another darker red shirt, equally not quite fully buttoned, there was no suggestion of a breast but only the soft spread of the clavicles
I would´ve taken him home
the crown of roses of course sported thorns in fresh, clean, but unguarded hair, the reference was unmistakable
                                                                                                                                                                    from a window I watched the thick snow still fall, the ground was covered, but left were the precise lines of the pristine architecture under the icing that outlined its edges
the sages and the deities at the Zwingers own many parapets looked timelessly, unswervingly, on
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though the Old Masters Picture Gallery, die Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister, will not allow transfer of their artworks to personal blogs, their entire collection is available through their own website, which I’ve linked you to here, click “Online-Gallery” at the home page, there under Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister click “motivliste anzeigen“, “show collection“, make your way through the 64 “Seiten, “pages“, of masterworks
thoroughly enjoy
                                                                                                                                                                  yours in timeless art                                                                                                                                                                   richibi
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