|Rosemary's yellow crocus - 21 February 2022|
This blog is going to be convoluted and complicated. I would say at my age of 79 that perhaps life in general is just that.
As a little boy and a grown man I eschewed poetry. This all began when I was forced to memorize poems in school. My mother would sit down with me and help me do this. Then in high school, when extra points were given to us if we memorized a poem for the next day, I never did get any extra points.
It was my discovery of Jorge Luís Borges around 1969 that coaxed me into poetry and by the time I had read Ogden Nash and Emily Dickinson I was deep into it.
Now with Rosemary gone on December 8, 2020 I find two places that give me solace and a sense of purpose. One is to write my daily blog and the other is to read poetry.
In many of these now 5500 blogs I have had my photographs join forces with the poetry of my favourite poets. In search of a poem that might apply to a photograph of mine I have even discovered new ones.
In April of 1991 I received a phone call from the editor of a magazine of note in those days called Books in Canada. He asked me, “How would you like to photograph a 6 ft tall lesbian?”
While he scared me, when Jane Rule came to my studio, she charmed me. She died on November 2007 and in 2011 Talon Books published her posthumous autobiography Taking My Life. The book was sent to me and I was delighted to find out that the book had a full page bleed of my portrait of hers which apparently was a favourite of hers.
It was the first paragraph of her book that had me reading it over and over:
Writing an autobiography may be a positive way of taking my own life. Beginning in the dead of winter, mortal with abused lungs and liver, my arthritic bones as incentive for old age, I may be able to learn to value my life as something other than the hard and threateningly pointless journey it has often seemed. I have never been suicidal but often stalled, as I have been now for some months, not just directionless but unconvinced that there is one. No plan for a story or novel can rouse my imagination, which resolutely sleeps, feeding on the fat of summer. And so I take my life, with moral and aesthetic misgivings, simply because there is nothing else to do.
And the second paragraph was just as powerful:
I remember remembering when I was born. My practical young mother said nobody could. But I did remember dreaming and dreaming and that first waking to the hard light. By the time she read me Mary Poppins, I realized that I, like most people, had forgotten not just my birth but apparently the language of birds, the ability to fly, to walk into the landscape of pictures and to be home among the stars. Just that one sensation remained – the painful brightness. It was not enough to make me into Mary Poppins, but memory became for me the earliest self-discipline I had. I couldn’t, after I learned to write, keep a diary, just as I couldn’t later take notes in lectures. Writing anything down seemed a way of forgetting it. I wanted to memorize my life so that whatever experience taught I would not forget. The difficulty, of course, is that what may seem to be static interference could be instead the very melody of life, the dismissed clutter, the real furniture of the soul. The fear of such loss, even our starkest nightmares, are consolation, for they store and restore to us things we have not chosen to recall.
These days of my continued grief and melancholy I can assure my family that I am not the type to swallow 20 sleeping pills. I have only thought of suicide in Jane Rule's context. The book is inside our guest bathroom. When I enter it I find comfort in seeing its cover. Writing is indeed a positive way of taking one's life.
Looking for poems that might illustrate this blog about the colour yellow and Rosemary's yellow crocus scan I put Borges, amarillo (yellow in Spanish) into Google and the first hit was this one (my blog):
I had written this blog because I know that yellow was one of the last colours that Borges was able to see until he became fully blind. My Spanish Dictionary RAE contains the reference to amarillo:
Del b. lat. hisp. amarellus, y este del dim. del lat. amārus 'amargo'. It seems that the original meaning of the colour is bitter as amargo is just that.
I was luckier when I placed Emily Dickinson, Yellow in Google. I found this lovely poem:
Nature rarer uses yellow – Emily Dickinson
Nature rarer uses yellow
Than another hue;
Saves she all of that for sunsets,—
Prodigal of blue,
|Delphinium x cultivar 'Finsteraarehorn' 17 June 2014|
Spending scarlet like a woman,
Yellow she affords
Only scantly and selectly,
Like a lover's words.
More Emily Dickinson
A Slash of Blue – Emily Dickinson
Pink Small and punctual
A slash of blue
I cannot dance upon my toes
Ah little rose
For hold them, blue to blue
The colour of the grave is green
Linda Melsted - the music of the violin does not emerge alone
The Charm invests her face
A sepal, a petal and a thorn
The Savior must have been a docile Gentleman
T were blessed to have seen
There is no frigate like a book
I pay in satin cash
Water makes many beds
The viola da gamba
But sequence ravelled out of reach
A parasol is the umbrella's daughter
Without the power to die
Lessons on the piny
Ample make this bed
How happy is the little stone
The shutting of the eye
I dwell in possibility
when Sappho was a living girl
In a library
A light exists in spring
The lady dare not lift her veil
I took my power in my hand
I find my feet have further goals
I cannot dance upon my toes
The Music of the Violin does not emerge alone
He touched me, so I live to know
Rear Window- The Entering Takes Away
Said Death to Passion
We Wear the Mask That Grins And Lies
It was not death for I stood alone
The Music in the Violin Does Not Emerge Alone
I tend my flowers for thee
Lavinia Norcross Dickinson
Pray gather me anemone!
Ample make her bed
His caravan of red
Me-come! My dazzled face
Develops pearl and weed
But peers beyond her mesh
Surgeons must be very careful
Water is taught by thirst
I could not prove that years had feet
April played her fiddle
A violin in Baize replaced
I think the longest hour
The spirit lasts