Utopian Turtletop. Monsieur Croche's Bête Noire. Contact: turtletop [at] hotmail [dot] com

Monday, July 30, 2007

A poem from Ralph Waldo Emerson in 1856, "Two Rivers":

Thy summer voice, Musketaquit,
Repeats the music of the rain;
But sweeter rivers pulsing flit
Through thee, as thou through the Concord Plain.

Thou in thy narrow banks art pent:
The stream I love unbounded goes
Through flood and sea and firmament;
Through light, through life, it forward flows.

I see the inundation sweet,
I hear the spending of the steam
Through years, through men, through Nature fleet,
Through love and thought, through power and dream.

Musketaquit, a goblin strong,
Of shard and flint makes jewels gay;
They lose their grief who hear his song,
And where he winds is the day of day.

So forth and brighter fares my stream,--
Who drink it shall not thirst again;
No darkness taints its equal gleam,
And ages drop in it like rain.

Art is an experience. I want it again and again. The artworks I love give me the feeling of Emerson's 2nd river. Except I always thirst again.

We don't go to art for the meaning. We go for the experience. The meaning is part of the experience. An important part.

Rembrandt's painting of the Holy Family (Jesus and his parents, a nice 17th century Hollander couple), from 1645, what's up with that riot of flying babies tumbling into the room like clowns piling out of a clown car?

I love those flying babies. The painting feels me -- they're here with me now!

What is the meaning of the flying babies? That God's cherubs accompany God's incarnation. Sure, OK, not really my bag; a little exclusive.

The experience of communing with the image of those flying babies, though --

The experience overtakes the meaning, overwhelms it. Life is inexplicable, beyond comprehension, beyond apprehension -- and -- joyous! -- or it can be. Parents love their children as they work and read.
Flying babies fill the air. We have no idea.

* * * * *

Some art provokes a laugh. Some laughs don't live past the first reading. Some works sustain a 2nd reading even without the laughs.

Carl has been hosting a limerick festival over at Zoilus. (My contributions are signed “john” -- “John” with a capital J is someone else. Most of the limericks summarize popular songs, but I’ve strayed from the theme.) And thinking about limerickal prosody -- the weak-STRONG-weak poetic foot, or rhythm, is called the amphibrach, which I hadn't known -- I got to wondering why some rhythms are comic -- chiefly amphibrach and anapest ("'Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house"). So much of the experience of reading comic verse is bound up with the rhythm. Comic rhythms carry one along, pleasurably.

* * * * *

I just fell asleep at the computer and dreamed that my son was telling me, "I hope to see that you make a good decision." Decision now is: Bed! G'night.

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