Monday, February 8, 2010

shed, shed yourself


Shed, shed yourself on me and mine,
and all your essence spill,
I mean the love I’ll drink like wine
and whisky, till I fill
the void that’s present when you’re not
with me. Please let the light
fantastic of my fantasy
\trip with you, day and night,
so night and day we both can be
within each other’s mind,
because your self you’ve shared and shed,
and my own self will find
within your heart, as I too long
to find yours in my own,
assured that yours and mine belong
to both, one flesh, one bone.

Inspired by an article in the WSJ Masterpiece series by Barrymore Laurence Scherer on “Heart of the Andes,” one of the iconic landscapes of the American painter Frederic Edwin Church (1826-1900) (WSJ, February 6, 2010):
For all their powerful visual drama, many of the iconic landscapes of the American painter Frederic Edwin Church (1826-1900) are relatively small in size and were originally intended for private collections. But one of his greatest paintings is also one of his largest, the monumental "Heart of the Andes," currently on view in the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Lehman Wing. Painted in 1859, this canvas (measuring more than 10 feet by 5 feet) embodies Church's large-scale vision of scenic majesty and his overriding belief that God was revealed in the wonders of nature. Like other members of the Hudson River School, Church was influenced by the idea of the "sublime and picturesque" initially published by the 18th-century Anglo-Irish writer and statesman Edmund Burke. A 1756 Burke essay attempted to identify the differences between that which is beautiful and that which is sublime or great. Beautiful objects, wrote Burke, are "comparatively small," "smooth and polished," "light and delicate." Burke identified sublime or great objects as "vast in their dimensions . . . rugged and negligent"; "the great ought to be dark and gloomy . . . solid, and even massive."…
For sheer technique, one of the painting's most telling passages is the juxtaposition of the leafy crown of the tallest birch tree in that copse, vividly painted with innumerable strokes of greens and browns, against the soft misted grays of the mountain peak beyond: Though we are looking at two thin layers of oil paint, the contrast of textures persuades our eyes to perceive immense distance between the two. And as the final touch, in the far-left foreground is Church's signature "carved" into the highlighted trunk of another tree. Obviously this kind of Romantic-scientific thinking was not limited to painting at the time, and Church's contemporary, Walt Whitman, evokes a similar vision in these lines: "O sun of noon refulgent! / . . . Thou that impartially infoldest all, not only continents, seas, / Thou that to grapes and weeds and little wild flowers givest so liberally, / Shed, shed thyself on mine and me . . ."


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