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.
Info on Madame X painting
Touring the Ottauquechee River
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 there shall nev’r be
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.
Adieu, Robert A. Sieczkiewicz
Maiden voyage for his young son today,
Helping papa, net a bounty of fish,
From their fair patron the Bay of Biscay,
But the day would not end as they would wish.
The Concarneau on its side, is useless
As refuge being miles from the jetty.
Wicked winds and wild waves are merciless,
Breathing havoc on all without pity.
Papa held him so tight, tight as he could,
Breathing into him again and again.
He felt his stillness as if he were wood,
and with his grieving pain chose to remain.
On this day my child we’ll together be
never parted for an eternity.
My poem today reflects on a very special kind of love, the love for a child. I have been examining paintings of water and came across this one by Alfred Gaillou, a French artist from Concarneau which is a commune in the Finistère department of Brittany in north-western France. In his “Adieu” it is my opinion that he demonstrates there are hardships in being a fisherman. He may also be taking on a bigger picture. The name of the boat is the name of his village. He could be expressing outrage that the village is in ruin and offers nothing to its youth. I write to the former and from a personal perspective. When my oldest son was 14 months old we got a call from the hospital to come and say our goodbyes for is time was short. I asked God to take me instead. God chose to pass on both of us.
Just Say It, Robert A. Sieczkiewicz
Forbidding my love be cast upon thee
Is equal to refusing the sunrise.
Thee claim to be cherished by another
Feels to me to be a defensive guise.
Is it necessary for thee to hide,
Thine eyes that once glowing in loveliness,
Did capture me that thy wish I’d abide.
Your silence is a dagger my Venus.
The past cannot be relived nor undone.
If poor discretion of mine has harmed thee,
Tell so that such behavior I may shun,
Or to toss my body upon the scree.
Should my body lie waiting for the sea,
It will be final sign of love for thee.
I am back to using a painting by Ron Hicks. My FB friend may remember this painting as I put it out as a good example of how Ron placed his subjects. By placing them on two separate planes he automatically creates tension. What really got my attention about this painting is Ron Hicks has so many great painting about love. A subject that would lift any heart. But this one makes you think. Whether it is a lost love or just a moment is a relationship that has gone sour.
For the reader who is not aware that I love the sonnet, especially the English sonnet because of the challenge. I have 14 lines to offer an issue, present an argument and a summation. There is a rhyming and syllable limitation making it more complicated. This poem was a challenge so I will offer some details of my thoughts. Love is not a physical state, sex is. I am not talking here about what is sometime referred as physical love. It is my thinking that all to often much attention is given to the physical aspects of love and not what happens between the ears or in the heart. But that what sells tabloids and magazines. This man is in love with the girl but has done and said some real stupid things in his life. He feels that the woman loves him but is using another man as an excuse and won’t explain her hurt. If you want to see a raunchy example of this watch The Ranch on Netflix.
Gratuitous Love, Robert Sieczkiewicz
Dare I speak to you, of a special Love,
One where its roaring flame, shall never die,
Every thought of you, carried by a dove,
To make a new star, above in the sky,
Gratuitous love, so misunderstood,
Oft’ returned to giver, with such disdain,
Reject my personal love, if you could,
Then spiritual love, you too abstain.
If love is send to you, without request
for reward, accept with an open heart,
as such a person, may be heaven blest,
Giving good reason, not to be apart.
For you to accept love of mere mortal,
Readies you for the mighty immortal.
The creator of this painting may come as a surprise to you. It did for me. It is Salvador Dali, which he painted in 1950. I have had a thought about gratuitous love in my mind for many weeks and finally decided to work it out in my mind. Dali gave me part of the answer with this the painting. The perspective is both human and divine, ephemeral and eternal. Notice the lack of blood or nails. Rather than seeing the rocks and dirt of Golgotha Dali paints a heavenly perspective. In my poem I do the same by claiming that love goes beyond the confines of this earth. I hope Gratuitous Love gives you something to ponder for awhile.
Memories in Tears, Robert A. Sieczkiewicz
This cold winter day, I walked to the east,
The slowly sinking sun, is now behind.
Turned into a narrow lane shown worn least.
Looked at cold naked chestnut trees aligned.
Followed the frozen lane towards the back.
Drew closer to an agonizing sound.
Saw a frail old women clothed in dark black.
Her naked knees meeting the frozen ground.
Tears on her shivering chin, jumped to their death.
With hand extended, gave her a tissue.
Last tear refused to touch, the frozen earth.
Looked at headstone, understood the issue.
Just how many more years of painful tears,
Will be shed for love, of so many years.
This is Paul Cezanne’s Path of Chestnut Trees in Jas de Bouffan in the Winter. I chose it not be cause it excited me but because it interested me. Much like the Hopper painting that I showed awhile back. It was Cezanne’s family home for some fifty years. The painting itself is simple. What is dominant in the picture? The trees. But why? In my poem I use the word gangly which refers to tall thin people. Speaking again of the poem, are these gangly chestnut trees pallbearers? You decide.