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Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Bring on the Clowns


The painter fills his canvas with the face,
the clown's face, canvas for the clown.
A canvas fills the canvas, while a hand
performs the function of a brush,
touches the face or pokes it, sweeps or tweaks.
Caresses. Face and hand are one.

Physique is secondary to the face.
The high-wire walkers, acrobats
and those on the trapeze Chagall has sketched,
marginalised by distance.
They are their actions or they cease to be.
The clown exists by what he is.

But what is he, this yellow clown? Some say
a tragic figure who will hide
a broken heart beneath a cheerful smile.
The gesture of the hand agrees.
Or is he deeply cynical as I
am wont to be? Slapstick enhanced

with a veneer of depth (see what he's done?)
or given spurious romance?
The children are not fooled. They see him as
the simpleton he is - ah, there's
the rub: forget the tragic hero role;
we worship the philosopher in him.

..............................................................

The image was provided as prompt by http://magpietales.blogspot.co.uk/

30 comments:

Jinksy said...

A philosophical clown sounds an ideal combination - can I be one of those, please? :)

Manicddaily said...

I haven't done this one but have a lot of drafts - also thinking along some of the same themes.

My children found clowns terrifying - malevolent - the face a lie perhaps - I don't know. There is definitely something sinister - maybe it IS that philosophical quality! k.

Brian Miller said...

i think that the clown is def often misunderstood as a simpleton or fool...def not always the case...again looks are decieving much like his smile often is

Carl said...

An awesome interpretation. You always get me thinking Dave.

Carl

Mary said...

I often wonder if the clown is hiding a lot of sadness beneath his smiles...but there could be worse ways to deal with sadness.

A Cuban In London said...

Funny, I'd already thought of Chagall before you mentioned him. And, yes, cynical, at least to me. The other day they had a comedian on the radio (different category from clons, I know) who said that he didn't agree with the tag of tragic person hiding behind the comic veneer. I agree with him, too.

Great poem. Especially those opening words. Many thanks.

Greetings from London.

Kutamun said...

Very profound peeling away of the layers of illusion, unusual in our tightly constructed simulation of a world

Kathe W. said...

very perceptive and thoughtful
I really like the idea that the clowns face is a canvas and his hand a brush...

sunny said...

hi Mr Dave,lovely poem like it very much

sunny said...

hi Mr Dave,lovely poem like it very much

sunny said...

hi Mr Dave,lovely poem like it very much

sunny said...

hi Mr Dave,lovely poem like it very much

sunny said...

hi Mr Dave,lovely poem like it very much

sunny said...

hi Mr Dave,lovely poem like it very much

sunny said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
sunny said...

sorry for the repeatition sir

Laurie Kolp said...

Well-crafted and meaningful take on the prompt, Dave... I like it a lot!

Kat Mortensen said...

Ah yes of course! A cynic could well be lurking beneath the mask.

rch said...

I really love your reflections on artistic works, they breathe life into them.

Ygraine said...

Cynic, philosopher or whatever he may be we will love him because he makes us laugh.
But I believe that, unknown to us, we are laughing at ourselves when we laugh at him.
For isn't there a bit of the clown in everyone of us?
I know there is in me - and it's usually when I'm trying hard not to be!

Tabor said...

A philosopher! Of course that is what they really are.

Windsmoke. said...

I always believed clowns to be comical not philosophical until now :-).

Linda said...

Wonderful interpretation. Thank you for sharing.

Elliot said...

Interesting take on something that would otherwise be ordinary.

The Elephant's Child said...

As a child clowns frightened me. As an adult I still see/feel the instrinsic sadness and the philospher in them. Wonderful poem - thank you.

Dave King said...

Jinksy
By all means!

Manicddaily
I agree about the sinister aspect. My son also found this - not my daughter, though.

Brian
Not always the case, I agree. By a very potent symbol. Thinking of Picasso and the very many writers for whom the symbol has been important.

Carl
Thanks for this.

Mary
Again, I agree. The myth certainly speaks of sadness beneath, but as I say, I am not so sure.

A Cuban in London
Yes, I agree - and although clown and commedian is not the same thing, I do think there is some connectivity.

Kutamun
Very encouraging comment. Thank you for it.

Kathe W
Thank you so much. Good to have your thoughts on.

sunny
Thanks for this - don't worry about the repetition.

Laurie
Thank you. Very much appreciated.

Kat
That's masks for you!

rch
Thank you, that you think so is really good to hear.

Ygraine
Yes, very perceptive, your comment. this feels spot on to me, I do believe we are laughing at ourselves - as with all great commedians.

Tabor
I think so, yes. Philosophers using sign language.

Windsmoke
Both... you can be both.

Linda
Thank you for your reply. really good to have.

Eliot
A warm welcome to you. Good to have your company and your comments.

The Elephant's Child
I can't recall what I thought of them as a child. Today I feel a vague eeriness in their presence.

Linda said...

Chagall paints philosophically, absolutely! He is also quoted as saying that there is no symbolism to his color choices. Do you believe that? This painting is the color of lentils, which gives it a depressing quality and it was painted late in his life. Aging, is my interpretation. There are days I feel like this clown. I wrote my poem about the lines Chagall used. I love that you included all of these insights in your poem.... quintessentially Chagall. Thank you Dave.

Tumblewords: said...

It's so difficult to see it all - the backwash, the underlayment, the hidden corners. Excellent poem.

Tess Kincaid said...

I really like "slapstick enhanced
with a veneer of depth"...very nice...you're right children are not easily fooled...somehow their innocence is wisdom...

zongrik said...

i like how you go through the whole painting and describe it.

i especially like

Physique is secondary to the face.

because i just took it for granted, and it is an important point to make, it's an important choice the artist made.