Sunday, April 9, 2017

A Love Letter from Italy- De Chiricos and More

The Disquieting Muses.jpg

We honor the Center for Italian Modern Art's (CIMA) De Chirico exhibit in Manhattan, as well as the city of Rome (where I am writing this) and Florence. Enjoy!

Villanelle: Two de Chiricos by Mark Strand

1. The Disquieting Muses

Boredom sets in first, and then despair.
One tries to brush it off. It only grows.
Something about the silence of the square.

Something is wrong; something about the air,
Its color; about the light, the way it glows.
Boredom sets in first, and then despair.

The muses in their fluted evening wear,
Their faces blank, might lead one to suppose
Something about the silence of the square.

Something about the buildings standing there.
But no, they have no purpose but to pose.
Boredom sets in first, and then despair.

What happens after that, one doesn’t care.
What brought one here- the desire to compose.
Something about the silence of the square.

Or something else, of which one’s not aware,
Life itself, perhaps- who really knows?
Boredom sets in first, and then despair.
Something about the silence of the square.

The Philosopher's Conquest

2. The Philosopher's Conquest

This melancholy moment will remain,
So, too, the oracle beyond the gate,
And always the tower, the boat, the distant train.

Somewhere to the south a Duke is slain,
A war is won. Here, it is too late.
This melancholy moment will remain.

Here, an autumn evening without rain,
Two artichokes abandoned on a crate,
And always the tower, the boat, the distant train.

Is this another scene of childhood pain?
Why do the clockhands say 1:28?
This melancholy moment will remain.

The green and yellow light of love's domain
Falls upon the joylessness of fate,
And always the tower, the boat, the distant train.

The things our vision wills us to contain,
The life of objects, their unbearable weight.
This melancholy moment will remain,
And always the tower, the boat, the distant train.

For the Blind Man in the Basilica di Santa Croce, Florence
by Jeffrey Thomson
Our stories can only carry us so far. I know
there are layers beneath the layers and
you haven’t asked but I would describe
a fresco not even finished in the workshop,
discovered beneath damaged plaster here
in the Scuola del Cuoio. A simple Madonna
and child marked off with a draftsman’s
patience, a sketch of faces each etched
with a different kind of cross. Evidence
of a man working out art’s proportions
like a map in the sand: golden mean in
the plaster and articulation balanced
between the bridge in the distance
for scale and the sketched-in step-child
abandoned almost in the foreground,
clutching at the mother’s skirts—all
the necessary work that gets covered over
in the finish, smoothed out and blessed
with plaster and color, that blinding light

cast by the angelic child, mother adoring.  

Image result for piazza di spagna

Piazza di Espagna, Early Morning

by Richard Wilbur

I can’t forget How she stood at the top of that long marble stair Amazed, and then with a sleepy pirouette Went dancing slowly down to the fountain-quieted square; Nothing upon her face But some impersonal loneliness,- not then a girl But as it were a reverie of the place, A called-for falling glide and whirl; As when a leaf, petal, or thin chip Is drawn to the falls of a pool and, circling a moment above it, Rides on over the lip- Perfectly beautiful, perfectly ignorant of it.


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