Archives for posts with tag: famous artists

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POEM 17
by C.S. Merrill (March 1974)

I worked for O’Keeffe at first
as librarian in the book room.
It smelled of old paper
sweet, sharp, and dusty
bare bulb overhead
plywood table
books all over
on the floor, in crates
on shelves, in boxes.
I listed these books
cataloged them
on a manual typewriter
sitting on a cane bottom chair.
Is this how a medieval scribe felt?
To relieve my hours
she hung a small painting
on the west wall,
brilliant scarlet poppies.
Asked her after lunch,
“May I have that little painting?
Will you give it to me?
I like it.” She snorted
didn’t laugh
didn’t say anything
She snorted…loudly
Years later
looking at a paper
for an auction
I learned how much
money it was worth.
She snorted at me
there in the library.
Turned
went out the door.

BIOGRAPHICAL NOTE FROM C.S. (CAROL) MERRILL: O’Keeffe answered my letter. I first visited her one day in August, 1973. She hired me to work on weekends as librarian, secretary, cook, nurse, or companion from 1973 to 1979. This poetry is from my journals written a few hours after the experiences. O’Keeffe…often had me read aloud to her from biographies of the great. Many times we re-read an ancient Taoist text Secret of the Golden Flower. O’Keeffe taught me to cook. She taught me to look, really look, at things. She showed me how to live. She let me know her when she faced old age, blindness, and death in the last years of her life. O’Keeffe must be remembered. She was a woman of fierce temper, infinite kindness, and impeccable sense of artistry. She encouraged me and changed my life. I like to think of her walking in beauty beneath ancient cliffs at Ghost Ranch. This work [poetry] is thanks for the strength of her will and the spirit of her work.

Painting: “Oriental Popples” (oil on canvas, 1928) by Georgia O’Keeffe

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THE WIND
by Robert Louis Stevenson

I saw you toss the kites on high

And blow the birds about the sky;
And all around I heard you pass,

Like ladies’ skirts across the grass


 
Oh wind, a blowing all day long,

Oh wind, that sings so loud a song!
 
I saw the different things you did,

But always you yourself you hid.

I felt you push, I heard you call,

I could not see yourself at all


 
Oh wind, a blowing all day long!

Oh wind, that sings so loud a song!


 
O you that are so strong and cold,

O blower, are you young or old?

Are you a beast of field and tree,

Or just a stronger child than me?


 
O wind, a blowing all day long,

O wind, that sings so loud a song!
***
Painting by Claude Monet (1840-1926). Prints available at allposters.com.

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AUTUMN MOVEMENT
by Carl Sandburg

I cried over beautiful things knowing no beautiful thing lasts.

The field of cornflower yellow is a scarf at the neck of the copper sunburned woman, the mother of the year, the taker of seeds.

The northwest wind comes and the yellow is torn full of holes, new beautiful things come in the first spit of snow on the northwest wind, and the old things go, not one lasts.

PAINTING: “Wheat Field with Reaper and Sun” by Vincent van Gogh (1889).

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“And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.”

ROALD DAHL

Painting: “The False Mirror” (1928) by Rene Magritte

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SKYTONES (Section X)
Poem by Pablo Neruda

I invite you to topaz,
to the yellow
hive in the stone,
the bees,
and the lump of honey
in the topaz
to the gold day
and the familial
drone of tranquility:
here is a minimal
church, built in a flower
as the bee builds, as
the planes of the sun or the leaf
in autumn’s yellowest profundity,
a tree, incandescently
rising, beam over beam, a sunburst corolla,
insect and honey and autumn, all
transformed by the salts of the sun:
essence of honey, the tremulous world
and the wheat of the sky
that labored to accomplish
this sun-change, at rest in the pallor of topaz.

Painting: “Wheatfield with Reaper (1889) by Vincent van Gogh

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“Novels are like paintings, specifically watercolors. Every stroke you put down you have to go with. Of course, you can rewrite, but the original strokes are still there in the texture of the thing.” JOAN DIDION

PAINTING: “Pink and Green Mountains,” 1915 watercolor by Georgia O’Keeffe

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“One day I will find the right words, and they will be simple.”

JACK KEROUAC, The Dharma Bums

Painting: “There and Here, State I” by Edward Ruscha (2007)

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JAZZ FANTASIA
by Carl Sandburg

Drum on your drums, batter on your banjoes,
sob on the long cool winding saxophones.
Go to it, O jazzmen.
 
Sling your knuckles on the bottoms of the happy
tin pans, let your trombones ooze, and go husha-
husha-hush with the slippery sand-paper.
 
Moan like an autumn wind high in the lonesome treetops,
moan soft like you wanted somebody terrible, cry like a
racing car slipping away from a motorcycle cop, bang-bang!
you jazzmen, bang altogether drums, traps, banjoes, horns,
tin cans — make two people fight on the top of a stairway
and scratch each other’s eyes in a clinch tumbling down
the stairs.
 
Can the rough stuff…now a Mississippi steamboat pushes
up the night river with a hoo-hoo-hoo-oo…and the green
lanterns calling to the high soft stars …a red moon rides
on the humps of the low river hills….go to it, O jazzmen.

Illustration: “Icarus” from Jazz, a book of 100 prints based on paper cutouts by Henri Matisse published in 1947. Copies available at Amazon.com.

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AUTUMN IN NEW YORK
lyrics by Vernon Duke

Autumn in New York, why does it seem so inviting?
Autumn in New York, it spells the thrill of first knighting
Glittering crowds and shimmering clouds in canyons of steel
They’re making me feel, I’m home

Its autumn in New York that brings the promise of new love
Autumn in New York is often mingled with pain
Dreamers with empty hands, may sigh for exotic lands
It’s autumn in New York, its good to live it again

Autumn in New York, the gleaming rooftops at sundown
Autumn in New York, it lifts you up when you’re run down
Jaded roués and gay divorcées who lunch at the Ritz
Will tell you that it’s divine

This autumn in New York transforms the slums into Mayfair
Autumn in New York, you’ll need no castle in Spain
Lovers that bless the dark on benches in Central Park
Greet autumn in New York, its good to live it again

Listen to BIllie Holiday sing “Autumn in New York” in a lovely vintage New York autumn video at youtube.com.

ABOUT THE SONG (from Wikipedia.org):  Vernon Duke composed the jazz standard “Autumn in New York” for the Broadway musical Thumbs Up!, which opened on December 27, 1934. Over the years, a wide range of performers have recorded many version of the song, a favorite of jazz performers — including  Chet Baker, Charlie Parker, Billie Holiday, and Sarah Vaughan, Louis Armstrong, and Ella Fitzgerald.

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ABOUT THE COMPOSER: Russian-born Vernon Duke (1903 – 1969) was an American composer/songwriter, who also wrote under his original name Vladimir Dukelsky. He is best known for “Taking a Chance on Love” with lyrics by Ted Fetter and John Latouche, “I Can’t Get Started” with lyrics by Ira Gershwin, and “April in Paris” with lyrics by E. Y. (“Yip”) Harburg (1932). He wrote the words and music for “Autumn in New York” (1934). Vernon collaborated with lyricists  Johnny Mercer, Ira Gershwin, Ogden Nash, and others — and his works have been performed and recorded by Count Basie, Bunny Berigan, Billie Holiday, Benny Goodman, Charlie Parker, Thelonious Monk, Bud Powell, the Modern Jazz Quartet, André Previn, Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, Wynton Marsalis, and many others. (Read more at Wikipedia.org.)

Illustration: “Street, New York I” (1926) by Georgia O’Keeffe

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ODE TO THE WATERMELON (Excerpt)
by Pablo Neruda

…the round, magnificent,
star-filled watermelon.
It’s a fruit from the thirst-tree.
It’s the green whale of the summer.
The dry universe
all at once
given dark stars
by this firmament of coolness
lets the swelling
fruit
come down:
its hemispheres open
showing a flag
green, white, red,
that dissolves into
wild rivers, sugar,
delight!…
When we’re thirsty
we glimpse you
like
a mine or a mountain
of fantastic food,
but
among our longings and our teeth
you change
simply
into cool light
that slips in turn into
spring water
that touched us once
singing.
And that is why
you don’t weigh us down
in the siesta hour
that’s like an oven,
you don’t weigh us down,
you just
go by
and your heart, some cold ember,
turned itself into a single
drop of water.

Painting: “Viva La Vida” by Frida Kahlo (1954) — Kahlo’s last painting.