Thursday, April 28, 2011

"You Can, You Must Proceed" - Poem and Painting Pairing

Paul Cezanne - The Sainte Victoire mountain seen from les Lauves - 1904-06
Oil on canvas - 60 x 72 cm - Kunstmuseum - Basel

At about the 7 minute mark, there is this poem:

For Those Whom the Gods Love Less
(Denise Levertov)

When you discover
your new work travels the ground you had traversed
decades ago, you wonder, panicked,
'Have I outlived my vocation? Said already
all that was mine to say?'

                                      There's a remedy -
only one - for the paralysis seizing your throat to mute you,
numbing your hands:  Remember the great ones, remember Cezanne
doggedly sur le motif, his mountain
a tireless noonday angel he grappled like Jacob,
demanding reluctant blessing.  Remember James rehearsing
over and over his theme, the loss
of innocence and the attainment
(note by separate note sounding its tone
until by accretion a chord resounds) of somber
understanding.  Each life in art
goes forth to meet dragons that rise from their bloody scales
in cyclic rhythm:  Know and forget, know and forget.
It's not only
the passion for getting it right (thought it's that, too)
it's the way
radiant epiphanies recur, recur,
consuming, pristine, unrecognized-
until remembrance dismays you.  And then, look,
some inflection of light, some wing of shadow
is other, unvoiced.  You can, you must

from Sands of the Well

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