Posts Tagged ‘Sea’

Beach Houses, Big Sky

Thursday, September 1st, 2016

Although it’s still summer, the first of September feels like a turning of the year, a return to school and schedules, and a farewell to cicadas and the least possible clothing. In parting I celebrate the day with a watercolor of Duck, NC, where the family just spent an idyllic week, and, attesting to the season’s ambivalence, a poem by A.E. Housman.

BeachHousesBigSky

XXXIX (from Last Poems)

When summer’s end is nighing
And skies at evening cloud,
I muse on change and fortune
And all the feats I vowed
When I was young and proud.

The weathercock at sunset
Would lose the slanted ray,
And I would climb the beacon
That looked to Wales away
And saw the last of day.

From hill and cloud and heaven
The hues of evening died;
Night welled through lane and hollow
And hushed the countryside,
But I had youth and pride.

And I with earth and nightfall
In converse high would stand,
Late, till the west was ashen
And darkness hard at hand,
And the eye lost the land.

The year might age, and cloudy
The lessening day might close,
But air of other summers
Breathed from beyond the snows,
And I had hope of those.

They came and were and are not
And come no more anew;
And all the years and seasons
That ever can ensue
Must now be worse and few.

So here’s an end of roaming
On eves when autumn nighs:
The ear too fondly listens
For summer’s parting sighs,
And then the heart replies.

—A.E. Housman

CakeBerries2

Elizabeth

Duck, North Carolina, Part III

Sunday, August 28th, 2016

Starry skies, sunrise, and sea maidens.

DuckNC2017.3

cakesprinkles

Johanna

cakechoccurls2

Karuna

CakeStrawberries

Katherine

Duck, North Carolina, Part II

Thursday, August 25th, 2016

Creatures of air, land and sea; and a search for gifts.

DuckNC2017.2

Yahrzeit2

Bill Elvin

Duck, North Carolina, Part I

Monday, August 22nd, 2016

Watermelons and wild waves.

DuckNC2017.1

CakeOranges

Marta

August Morning

Friday, August 1st, 2014

A poem by Albert Garcia in celebration of the poignant, brief-and-boundless late summer.

AugustSunfish

It’s ripe, the melon
by our sink. Yellow,
bee-bitten, soft, it perfumes
the house too sweetly.
At five I wake, the air
mournful in its quiet.
My wife’s eyes swim calmly
under their lids, her mouth and jaw
relaxed, different.
What is happening in the silence
of this house? Curtains
hang heavily from their rods.
Ficus leaves tremble
at my footsteps. Yet
the colors outside are perfect–
orange geranium, blue lobelia.
I wander from room to room
like a man in a museum:
wife, children, books, flowers,
melon. Such still air. Soon
the mid-morning breeze will float in
like tepid water, then hot.
How do I start this day,
I who am unsure
of how my life has happened
or how to proceed
amid this warm and steady sweetness?

—Albert Garcia

CakeSunFrancine

Until we meet again

Sunday, March 17th, 2013

A traditional blessing, along with a page from my Ireland sketchbook. Happy St. Patrick’s Day, everyone.

BoatToInisOirr

May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
the rains fall soft upon your fields,
and, until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of His hand.

—Irish blessing

CakeGreenSimone

Moon Over Orcas Island

Friday, August 31st, 2012

MoonOverOrcas

Keep your fingers crossed for clear skies tonight so you can see the Blue Moon: that is, the second full moon in a single month, which will not happen again until 2015. I post a watercolor of this month’s first full moon (which my daughter and I admired from Orcas Island), on August 2nd, in its honor.

It is a celestial event that seems especially significant in light of the passing on August 25th of Earth’s moonwalker Neil Armstrong—the first human being who could gaze up at the full moon and say, “I was there.”

CakeChocCurls2Katie

CakeBalloons2Rick

Beach Birthday

Saturday, December 11th, 2010

It’s ironic that my husband’s birthday falls in December, because he is a sun-worshipping beach-loving guy. So on this day I post a sketch I did of him the summer that he bought and launched his inflatable kayak. This is what I would REALLY like to give him for his birthday: warm, happy hours gliding through the ocean at sunrise and sunset, gazing at dolphins, dreaming.

JKayak

PieForJJimmy


Imagine

Wednesday, December 8th, 2010

RoseSunrise

Imagine there’s no Heaven
It’s easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people
Living for today
Imagine there’s no countries
It isn’t hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace
Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world
You may say that I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will live as one

—John Lennon

CakeBerries2Sophie

Yahrzeit2John Lennon


An Hymn to Phillis

Monday, October 18th, 2010

PurpleClouds

I post this painting and verse (“An Hymn to the Morning”) in honor of poet Phillis Wheatley (circa 1753-1784). Her birth date, and in fact her birth year, are unknown, but today is the anniversary of the day that she was emancipated from slavery. So we might think of that as a kind of birthday.

I chose this image to accompany her poem partly because of its depiction of dawn, but also because it was, unhappily, across the sea that Wheatley came to these shores, kidnapped in West Africa by slavers and sold in Boston. Her age was estimated at around seven or eight, because she had “already lost her front teeth,” a fact that clutches at the heart of any parent reading this unembellished observation. Or of anyone who knows a child… or remembers being a child. No tooth fairy for her, though. Her birth name went unrecorded, and her new owners blithely and undoubtedly without irony gave her the name Phillis, the name of the slave ship that had brought her to Boston, adding their own surname.

Phillis was a thin, sickly child (no surprise, after such a voyage), and although she was nursed and raised more as a child of the house than a slave, she remained delicate all her short life. Her owners soon recognized that Phillis was bright and precocious and put her education into the hands of their grown daughter Mary. Within sixteen months Phillis was fluent in English and could read even difficult passages in the Bible. Her education included Classical and English literature, geography, history, and Latin, as well as the ubiquitous Bible, plus heaps of poetry—an unusual education for a woman of the day, let alone an African slave. (Mary must have been given the same education.)

At around age twelve, Wheatley began writing her own poetry, and her first published work appeared in a Newport newspaper when she was fourteen. She felt a powerful drive to create poetry, and her owners encouraged her and assisted in its publication in journals in the colonies and in England. Much of the subject matter was quite somber, consisting of tributes to noteworthy personages of the day and elegies composed upon the death of someone’s spouse or child. They are complex in their use of language, employing ambiguity and subtle understatement, and allusions to Greek and Roman history and mythology as well as to the Bible. Wheatley was obviously assuming similar education on the part of her audience, and it’s pretty rough sledding for the 21st century reader. I liked this particular poem because of the rare note of humor in the closing lines, and was glad to imagine her having a small chuckle.

It wasn’t long before Wheatley’s poetry brought her attention. Her owners, unable to find a colonial backer to publish a book of her work, found a publisher in London, who agreed to the project if the work could be prefaced by a statement signed by respectable Bostonians testifying to its authenticity! Phillis was questioned by Boston’s judges, and the required document was procured (one of its 18 signers was John Hancock).

So off she went to England, accompanied by her owners’ grown son, where she spent several months overseeing the publication of her book and meeting both members of the nobility and free Britons of African descent. She was a celebrity. In England there was public criticism of Phillis’ American enslavement, which embarrassed her owners. It probably would have been possible for her to refuse to return to America, and to stay where she would have been free; nevertheless, on hearing of her mistress’ illness, she boarded ship for home, missing an upcoming opportunity to be presented at court. And shortly after her return, her owner signed her emancipation papers.

She was free. What did that mean? Well, her books belonged to her, and she tried to sell them to support herself. She continued to write poetry, including a tribute to George Washington, who invited her to come call on him, as he wished to meet “the little black poetess.” Phillis had hopes for the Revolution—that the new country, once freed from Britain’s yoke, would turn around and free its own yoked people. Her poetry, which had been necessarily ambiguous in its references to slavery, grew more clearly critical.

Happy Emancipation Day, Phillis! With your gifts and your drive to create, what would you have become in another era? Undoubtedly a published author of many works, making the author tours, speaking at bookstores, interviewed on National Public Radio’s Diane Rehm Show.

Attend my lays, ye ever honour’d nine,
Assist my labours, and my strains refine;
In smoothest numbers pour the notes along,
For bright Aurora now demands my song.
Aurora hail, and all the thousand dies,
Which deck thy progress through the vaulted skies:
The morn awakes, and wide extends her rays,
On ev’ry leaf the gentle zephyr plays;
Harmonious lays the feather’d race resume,
Dart the bright eye, and shake the painted plume.
Ye shady groves, your verdant gloom display
To shield your poet from the burning day:
Calliope awake the sacred lyre,
While thy fair sisters fan the pleasing fire:
The bow’rs, the gales, the variegated skies
In all their pleasures in my bosom rise.
See in the east th’ illustrious king of day!
His rising radiance drives the shades away–
But Oh! I feel his fervid beams too strong,
And scarce begun, concludes th’ abortive song.

Phillis Wheatley

This image is available as a high-resolution print on 8.5″ x 11″ archival paper.