The gathering was spellbound by each note.
Coded nod from afar was accepted.
Liszt gently stroked out Don Sanche as if rote,
As two figures moved unintercepted.
Once outside they feel exhilarated,
Embracing at each other’s waist they kiss.
Soon their love is to be consummated,
The love that shall for evermore persist.
Their silhouette is seen at the hill crest,
By both Aphrodite and Selene.
Ponder they do, why the gods stop our quest?
This intervention could not be foreseen.
For their love, the gods shall they disobey,
Or for their gods, their love shall they betray?
The painting was done by Casper David Friedrich in 1824. To me a very interesting complex painting. Often said to representing an anti-Industrial Revolution mood. Friedrich being a Romantic tended to emphasize the values of emotion, intuition, and sentiment. We see plenty of these values in Man and Woman Contemplating the Moon. Life is about choices and that is why I chose Choice for the poem’s name.
A little backstory on Aphrodite and Selene as used in the poem. Other than the moon what else was in the sky? So I contacted the museum which presently holds the painting. After some bouncing around I got an answer. It was a star. Not much help. But because of its placement I took a leap of faith and assumed it to be the planet Venus and as we know that planet is associated with Aphrodite.
What Name Shall We Propose, Robert A. Sieczkiewicz
March howling winds and blanketing snow gone.
Rebirth with April shower coaxed me out,
To the spot where seed planted will be born,
With fingers, cleared leaves, felt soil heat, saw sprout.
Prostrate upon the ground my heat did breathe,
On the cotyledon. Yes, I am here,
To protect and put in place bell jar sheathe,
So you can grow strong without any fear.
The sun in June pulls you upward to her.
Waxen serrated leaves are flawless skin,
I drop oil on them to keep you ev’r pure.
Your peak bud is when your life shall begin.
Oh! Such beauty! What name shall we propose?
It can be no other than Amber Rose!
There is no painting to discuss that goes with this poem. It is a poem that I wrote to a close friend as a remembrance of her late daughter. When I was into roses it was my hope to hybridize an orange-yellow rose and name it Amber Rose. It never happen, so the least I could do is write a poem and share it to keep the spirit of a young beautiful woman alive.
With excited heart she opened the box,
Exposing the long fine black silken dress.
Whence the gift did come showed no sign of shocks,
The lady’s admirer needed no guess.
It’s noon, Monsieur Sargent should soon arrive.
Smirk did she. This dress will turn countless head,
With noses held high they’ll look for my shrive.
No yield. Be assured the next gown they’ll dread.
She slipped into the gown with confidence,
Not that the gown would fit but in herself.
Her thought should not come with a consequent,
M’dame Gautreau was no trophy for a shelf.
Her admirer knew her for what she was.
She was driven, but accepted her flaws.
As we can see by the poem the painter of Madame X was John Singer Sargent and the model was Madame Pierre (Virginie) Gautreau. During the period that the painting was done was a period of transition. The feeling that I add is that Virginie was a free thinking woman who did not relate well to the French bourgeoisie. It has been rumored that Virginie had a lover. However, I have not made mention in the poem instead I include a gift from an admirer as a grenade for a point of change that was coming about in a more open society. Women continued to be trophy brides but less so. In the movie How He Fell In Love the husband of the woman have an affair was more concerned with his social standing than the cause of his wife’s infidelity. His trophy was tarnished. I think Virginie was leading the first WYSIWYG movement
The following link will give you a lucid explanation of what was going on during the period as it relates to the Madame X painting.
My two tour guides, aptly lead this old man
To river’s edge. Without hesitation
They go from stone to stone. I’ve yet began.
What fear have I to cause this cessation.
Advice was given, water would not reach
my knee. A small hand now was extended,
to move me not as a crutch, but to teach.
Regrettably, soon the crossing ended.
We scoured the banks looking for memories,
With stones a plenty and flowers for mom,
my guides attention so turned to cookies.
Our return to the house was filled with calm.
The stones and flowers will soon lose their way,
My heart will ever remember this day.
The above painting was done by William R Davis of the Ottauquechee River which is a tributary of the Connecticut River and flows behind the escape cottage of my son and daughter-in-law. On occasion I have the opportunity to spend quality time there with my two youngest granddaughters. Part of that time is spent down at the river’s edge. Neither is fearful of the water which scares me at times.
It should be obvious that the stones are stepping stones to knowledge and here the tables are turn on the old man. Youth teaches the old man a few things about nature. Youth has taken over. As they play they display their thoughts of how things should be.
Ophelia, Robert A. Sieczkiewicz
Ophelia, how I need thee, sit by me,
with thy basket of rue to mend a heart,
devoid of any love, beyond lonely,
filled with despair, this world soon to depart.
Beauteous Ophelia, true to thy name,
I trust what remains of my life to thee.
Place rue on us to set our hearts aflame,
And our souls so joined shall forever be.
Ophelia, water surrounds thy beauty
So pure. Why was it so that thou had lied,
And destroyed our love for sake of duty,
While my faith in true love forever belied.
Without Ophelia, peace we shall nev’r see
And my wounded heart shall never be free.
John Everett Millais is the artist of the above painting titled Ophelia. In my poem Ophelia does double duty. The name Ophelia is taken from the Greek which means hope. The speaker is asking hope to come and sit with him and help him, for he has love problems. In the first line of the second stanza you get that clue “true to thy name.” But now he is addressing a women named Ophelia who he has just met. If you read Shakespeare’s Hamlet you may see where this is going. Ophelia lied to Hamlet and went crazy and ended up dying. But I end the poem with a different personal twist. There is a rose, Peace. The most popular rose in the 20th century. In 2001 I wrote an article for the American Rose magazine entitled Without Ophelia There Would be No Peace. Ophelia was a Tea Rose and important component in the hybridizing of the Peace Rose. So if Ophelia was there Peace would not have ever been possible. Getting back to the substance. Love is built on faith and honesty.