"When dawn spreads its paintbrush on the plain, spilling purple... ," Sons of the Pioneers theme for TV show "Wagon Train." Dawn on the mythic Santa Fe Trail, New Mexico, looking toward Raton from Cimarron. -- Clarkphoto. A curmudgeon artist's musings melding metaphors and journalism, for readers in more than 150 countries.

Saturday, March 28, 2020

Coincidence colors of poetry

"A tall ship and a star to steer her buy, 5 x 7 watercolor, 140 lb. Fabriano Artistico
What color is poetry? Where do paintings come from?
Coincidence, perhaps?
I was talking with son Vance yesterday and he'd found a 1952 list of the 100 most famous  poems, unranked.
We were both astounded that Whitman's "When lilacs last in the dooryard bloom'd" was not mentioned, though Captain my Captain" was.
Many of the poets we'd never heard of, but there were many we knew. We didn't get through the list but another conversation that day reminded me of one of my favorite poets when I was growing up, John Masefield, poet laureate of the UK from 1930 until his death in 1967--the year Vance was born.
I can still quote the first lines of his "Sea Fever," and painted a mural of the subject on my bedroom wall when in high school.
That second conversation was with friend Mary Carver, who recently had taken her first sailing lesson. Then I learned that her daughter Veronica was hoping to spend a semester at sea on a sailing ship, depending now of course on this pandemic.
Having only sailed about three times in my life,  I remember the first long ago with a friend in a small boat on Waurika Lake. I can still hear the gurgle of the wake, the slight breeze in the canvas--such peace and quiet.
That's when I though about Masefield and his poem, and had to try today's watercolor.
What I admire about Masefield, is he, like my favorite author Joseph Conrad, spent time at sea, and it seethes in all their work. I don't try to paint much water, because, growing up in arid New Mexico, I don't really "know" it well enough, but I can imagine.
Those opening lines?
"I must go down to the seas again, 
to the lonely sea and the sky,
"And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by..."

Here's the entire poem
Sea Fever
I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,
And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by;
And the wheel’s kick and the wind’s song and the white sail’s shaking,
And a grey mist on the sea’s face, and a grey dawn breaking.
I must go down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide
Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied;
                                And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying,
And the flung spray and the blown spume, and the sea-gulls crying.
I must go down to the seas again, to the vagrant gypsy life,
To the gull’s way and the whale’s way where the wind’s like a whetted knife;
And all I ask is a merry yarn from a laughing fellow-rover,
And quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trick’s over.

No comments:

Post a Comment