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Thursday, 28 April 2011

The Apparition of the Family : Chagall


In the process of creation this can be:
an angel host surrounds the artist as he paints,
they hymn the act in which he is engaged,
confirm the godliness of what he does.

We see Chagall before his easel, caught
off-guard it would appear, perhaps because
of those who form the angel choir:
no strangers here, no beings he might fear.

A dozen years it took him to complete,
to limn his daughter, wife and parents
(long since dead), his siblings and -
and here we reach the matter's heart, I'm sure -

the characters - stock characters - that long
have figured in his surreal art. They all are there:
the Jew who guards the Torah and the cow,
the female fiddler and the angel, straight

from heaven - having fallen from it in
some canvases. His paints and brushes
idle on his lap, his hand is on his heart,
a wistful look pervades his youthful face.

We may choose our friends, so we are told,
but not our relatives. Chagall found ways
not just to choose, but to create the souls
to see him through the spirit times ahead.

This is my contribution for today to Writers Island's NATIONAL POETRY's Free Writing Month.

10 comments:

Jim Murdoch said...

This was fascinating. I don't know this Chagall but I suppose I only really know his most popular and reproduced works. And a new word! New to me in any case, 'limn' - what a great word (I discovered 'lacunae' only a couple of days ago) - and isn't it amazing how much pleasure we can get from such a discovery?

anthonynorth said...

An excellent interpretation.

Gerry Snape said...

Dave...I love Chagall and this is an amazing poem about his work but with such depth of understanding. Love it!

flaubert said...

Dave, I love how you wrote this to the theme of Chagall's painting. One of my favourite artists.

Pamela

Mad Kane said...

Wonderful poem. I love Chagall's work!

Dave King said...

Jim
Glad indeed to have introduced a new word. It isn't used much, but I like it. Totally agree with you about the pleasures of learning new words. As for "Lacunae", did you come across reading the book of that name (well, lacuna, in fact), the Barbara Kingsolver novel about the aftermath of the Mexican revolution, Diego Rivera, Frida Kahlo, Lev Trotsky and others? I read it some time back. If you haven't, I think you probably should. I think you would enjoy it. I thought it the the most compelling book I've read in years.

anthonynorth
Much thanks for that.

Gerry
Thanks. Yes, I'm a great fan of his also. There's so much material there.

flaubert
Thanks Pam.

Mad Kane
Thanks. Much appreciated.

SweetTalkingGuy said...

Wonderful words! Dave.
Wonderful words!!

Jim Murdoch said...

No, Dave, I read it on this post by Jennifer Trinkle. If you’ve not checked out her site this is a good place to start. Not sure about the Barbara Kingsolver novel though. I’m not a great lover of South American culture. I saw a good documentary about Frida Kahlo and I also saw Salma Hayek portray her in the 2002 film so I’m probably familiar with a lot of the source material anyway.

Dave King said...

SweetTalkingGuy
Thanks a lot for this.

Jim
It's not at all what I would call a South American novel. It's set in S America, so that's the backdrop, but it's basically the story of a family - Kahlo an Rivera's - that gives succour to an on-the-run Trotsky, which brings J Edgar Hoover in on the act and makes it much more of an America / Russia clash than a S American story.

Dick said...

A fine and true meditation on the painting, Dave. Your two creative halves melding to excellent effect here.