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Thursday, 26 February 2009


The image below was sent to me in an email. It is obviously doing the rounds, so you may have seen it. It is the sunset at the North Pole with the moon at its closest point. I am posting it for no other reason than I think it uncommonly beautiful.

The fragment below I wrote some time ago. It was intended to grow a bit and become part of a longer poem, but I think it must have been still born, for there has been no development since.

Grey the slates, green-grey the tiles,
the walls like grubby sheets hang down -
could not be said to rise. No sign
of any spark where life has been;
no tree, no meadow, flower or stream.

But now look up, see school is out;
the clouds, like children bursting through the gates,
play every sort of landscape game they know.
Transformers of a different kind, they
flatten tufts of prairie grass, build
table mountains, gulfs and
crevises, pile pebbles high as cairns, become
grey crags of anvil-shapes. Behind
it all, meanwhile, the sun
grafts its pink fingers - strange
graffiti - on them all.


Gwen Buchanan said...

A truly amazing photograph!!!
and a truly visual poem!! Beautiful!!

Stephen Dell'Aria said...

Great poem Dave. I have often found myself thirsting for a view during my horrid drive to work. The ugliness of so many automobiles, asphalt lanes, concrete overpasses, signs, directions, markers, thousands of impatient people listening to crass radio hosts. The only escape is to look up.

Unknown said...

Occasionally I think pieces that were supposed to be part of something longer are simply themselves. This poem seems quite well developed in its current state, with lovely imagery & well-crafted lines.

Michelle said...

I think its perfect just as it is :0)

Jinksy said...

Great poem and pic patrnership, and fantastic image of clouds being cretors of another world. I loved it.

Bagman and Butler said...

The fragment was not still born...it was waiting for that picture to show up and complete it.

Douglas Florian said...

Great imagery, poem and picture.

Shadow said...

the picture is hauntingly beautiful. and sometime, the words that are there, are enough. maybe sooooomeday, maybe not. the picture you painted is very visual just as it is.

Acornmoon said...

OOH, how amazing. Can it be true I wonder? There is something weird about it that's for sure, in the nicest way.

Anonymous said...

The poem overflows with beauty!
The photo, what a surprise to see it, as I use it as my background. I keep saying I'll change it, but it captivates me.

Unknown said...

W.O.W. That is by far one of the coolest things I have ever seen in my entire life. The moon, the sun, water and completely still peace all in one photograph, I feel like I could reach out and swing on that little sliver of the moon. Simply amazing.

The poem is perfect just the way it is, likely why you never added anything to it. It tells a beautiful story of the natural world and is a perfect compliment to this photograph. Lovely!

ArtistUnplugged said...

I have not seen the photo until now, it is amazingly beautiful! Thanks for sharing it and your lovely poem.

Totalfeckineejit said...

A wonderful image for sure, Dave, but as someone who is a fan of, and confirmed gawker at, the night skies, i can only wonder at the seismic incredibility of seeing this sight for real.

Totalfeckineejit said...

Nice words too Dave, fair play to you my poetical amigo!

Unknown said...

Hi Dave,

Thanks for your kind words about my drawings and for providing the impetus. But Mr P is safe!

I agree with everyone about the beauty of the vision your words create. I particularly like the "walls ... hang down - could not be said to rise". I have always loved looking at clouds.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Derrick - the walls hanging down is such a vivid expression. And I like the way the second verse becomes much more freeform, which seems to fit the greater playfulness of the subject.

I like the photo too, though it looks a bit photoshopped to me (the reflection of the sun doesn't seem to match the texture of the water). Still a stunning image though - thanks for sharing it!

artslice said...

Wow, what an image! Quite otherworldly.

LR Photography said...

Very nice poem and great picture.

Conda Douglas said...

The poem works well with the image, Dave, perhaps because both have images of "other-worldly." And also, to me, the poem seems finished, of a piece, done--perhaps that's why you didn't continue?

The lady in Red said...

The photo is fabulous and inspiring as well your poem,

Best wishes,

The Weaver of Grass said...

I don't want that poem to be any longer Dave - it is beautiful as it is - and that image of the moon is exquisite. I always think the lack of colour in the arctic region enhances the beauty of things like the moon. Also I think personally that the moon is far more exciting visually than the sun.

Mclndesm said...

I have never seen that picture. It is stunning. I could look at it everyday and still be in awe of the earth and skies ability. I think your poem is perfect the way it is. I know that unfinished feeling, sometimes we have to fight it and go back a few times.

Tommaso Gervasutti said...

Your images in a Brueghel-like way give the perfect feeling of a mother-earth landscape including and nourishing by the inclusion its inhabitants.

Art Durkee said...

It's a very beautiful image, and I can tell you right now, that if the moon had ever been THAT close to Earth, so close that it appeared that large in the sky, the tidal force would have ripped it apart. Sorry, it's beautiful, AND it's Photoshopped. The Moon's aspect in the sky is actually a disc about the same diameter as the sun's aspect. A few degrees, never half the sky. Astronomically impossible from this planet.

Linda McGeary said...

Hi Dave,
Wow, you always have so many people commenting. Does it ever overwhelm you?
I like the poem and the picture very much.
The picture reminds me of some of the mythicalogical symbols I've seen in books. The crown of Isis.
No matter if it is potoshoped or not, whether it wears Mother Natures signature only or had a little nudge of help from one of her many children, it is still a beautiful and inspiring picture.
I've seen one with three birds in it, two birds above the third. They form a smiling face,the two birds have their wings down, the third with wings up. The sky smiling.

Jim Murdoch said...

The photo is something else and I'd not seen it before.

As for your fragment. For me is needs a title to pull it together.

K.Lawson Gilbert said...

Hi David, thanks so much for your visit to OMM. I so appreciate your stopping by and leaving a comment.

I did receive this picture in an email message and contemplated writing a poem to fit it. I now know, I could not have done it the proper justice, after reading your inspiring verse!

It's like the photo and poem were created together - in a big bang!

the sun
grafts its pink fingers - strange
graffiti - on them all.


Tess Kincaid said...

Beautiful, Dave. I love the line "flatten tufts of prairie grass".

Natalie said...

Superb, Dave. Uncommonly beautiful. Thanks for the peek. :D

findingmywingsinlife said...

Yes, I would agree with the statement of "Uncommonly Beautiful". Thank you for sharing the photograph.

Cloudia said...

Oh thank you, Dave!!!!
Aloha, friend

Janette Kearns Wilson said...

Lovely post Dave, Thanks

A Cuban In London said...

You are right that the image is very unusual. Many thanks for posting it. As for your poem, I disagree that it's a still-born, I believe it's a fully-fledged, four-limb member of the human race. It's walking with me now as I write.

Greetings from London.

Roxana said...

seeing the photograph I thought that nothing else needed to be the said, just the silent awe. and yet you succeeded to give meaning to that silence with your words. thank you.

Annie Wicking said...

Words and picture... beautiful!

Annie Wicking said...

Words and picture... beautiful!

Dave King said...

Welcome and many thanks for visiting my blog and for commenting. Much appreciated.

Yes, know what you mean! I have always been fascinated by the almost-landscapes the clouds can form.

Yes, I have often found that, too. I have on occasion torn up whole chunks of a longer poem, just to retain a few lines that seemed to work better than the rest.

Very good of you to say so. Reassuring. Thanks.

Really pleased you liked it. Thanks very much for the comment.

Butler and Bagman
Brilliant comment - from my point of view, of course!

Much thanks.

I thought the picture stunning from the moment I saw it. I almost felt it was a case of Follow that!

I believe it's true, but I know what you mean. It is incredibly beautiful but eerie at the same time. Thanks for the comment.

Ah, I thought someone would recognise it! I was toying with the thought of using it for my background - I don't usually have one. Welcome to the blog.

Many thanks for those two lovely - and very generous - comments.

Artist Unplugged
And my thanks for your comment.

Now wouldn't that be something!
And my thanks for the second comment.

Welcome to the blog. The comments on the poem are much appreciated. I don't know the history of the photograph. Will try to find out.

Indeed. - and welcome.

Thanks for that.

Yes, maybe you are right about that. The comments are much appreciated.

Weaver of Grass
I was saying Amen to each of your points as I read the comment. Did you see the photograph in yesterday's Times (I think it was) of a solar eclipse? Looked as though it was taken from above the clouds - in the 19th century. An Albumen print. Had a lot in common with this opne, I thought.

Lady in Red
Thanks for the comment. Much appreciated.

I find your comment very reassuring. Welcome to my blog and thanks for making the trip.

Tommaso Gervasutti
I must admit I hadn't thought of it that way before, but I think I see what you mean.

It may well have been Photoshopped, but are we sure which is which? I may not have been looking at it correctly.

It has once or twice got close to overwhelming. Getting round to visit everyone is the main problem. I agree with you about the photo, myattitude towards it is much the same as yours, but I suppose if your interest is scientific rather than aesthetic, that makes all the difference.

Yup, the title was Skyscrapes. I just didn't bother to repeat it when I gave that title to the post. That is an interesting comment, though; it raises the question of the imporatnce of titles. Almost worth a post to itself. Fancy doing it?

Welcome to the blog and good of you to comment. I, of course, wrote the poem before I saw the photo. That probably made it easier.

Much thanks for the comment.

And thanks for stopping by.

The feedabck is much appreciated

And my thanks to you.

Very good of you to say so.

A Cuban in London
That is a very comforting comment. Many thanks for it.

As I said above, I wrote the poem b efore I had seen the photograph - doubt whether I could have done it after!

Thanks for those words.

Elizabeth said...

Thank you for the photo and the poem. I've been "away" for a while and it is so nice to stop in and just relax...I'm following you now...so I'll be back soon.
Pax, E

Fantastic Forrest said...

Great pic, great poem.

NOT "stillborn" at all - petite but well developed.

MuseSwings said...

Wonderful, beautiful verse! I just love that amazing picture - I found it on Flickr and used it in one of my blogs last year.



hope said...

I've been in a somewhat boring seminar all day, with half a day left to go. Visiting here made me feel better. As always your words are interesting. But my first reaction to the photo was that it looked like a giant smile.

Maybe I just needed one. Thanks Dave! ;)

Karen said...

You may think this was stillborn, Dave, but I think it's perfectly formed and complete. It's a beautiful poem.

I especially like these lines:
Bu now look up, see school is out;
the clouds, like children bursting through the gates,
play every sort of landscape game they know.


Jeanne Estridge said...

There's always so much beauty on this site -- it's an oasis.

Anonymous said...

I would say this is far from still born, Dave. Mature for its age? Yep. Uncommonly beautiful.

Anonymous said...

This image is intriguing. I am starting to understand why men believe in gods. Brilliant post Mr.King, as always.

Patrice said...

Fabulous poem - and photo. The crescent moon has long been my favorite. I'd not seen this before. Thanks for sharing.

Dave King said...

Welcome back. Good to have your comapny again.

Fantastic Forrest
Lovely! Thanks for that.

Muse Swings
Great minds thinking alike, obviously!


Got it! Yup, a giant smaile, that's exactly what it will be from now on! Thanks for the tip.

That's very cheering - and then some. Thanks.

That, too, is very cheering. And then some. Thanks also.

Mature for it's age... I like that, thanks.

See what you mean, it does start the mind going in that direction, doesn't it?

Thanks for the feedback.

Noelle Dunn.... A Poet in Progress said...

I love this, as is...it resonates with me ....I picture the kids that I teach as they burst out to recess or run on home, maybe even to homes that have no sign of any spark...what the human spirt can endure. I love the photo too.

Cat said...

Both poem and photo are beautiful. Thanks for sharing with us.

Lucas said...

Dave - thanks for posting that extraordinary and beautiful photograph.
I really like the poem, which captures the strange energy that seems to live within or behind wind and light. Your poem is transforming, just as it is a record of transformation. The "strange graffiti" roots us back in an urban landscape where we began.

Anonymous said...

"transformers of a different kind" i guess i know where that came from.the photograph looks futuristic.

Dave King said...

Welcome to the blog and thanks for that contribution, to which I can relate, absolutely.

Welcome, and thanks for stopping by to comment.

Much thanks for the valuable feedback. Glad you liked it.

Your Sassy Reporter
Yes, it does, doesn't it? That puts a slightly different aspect on it.

Cynthia said...

Dave, your poem is a beautiful tribute to nature and to the
innocence of children, these young ones who truly do appreciate Mother Nature's gifts.

Carl said...

Stark and Beautiful.

I think the poem stands as it is. I find that with painting sometimes. That is hard to know when to call it done.

The photo is amazing.

Michelle D. Argyle said...

That photograph is amazing! What a fantastic thing to be able to see! I love the poem, as well. Thanks for an inspiring post!

San said...

That photograph is magical. And your cloud reflections pair beautifully.

Art Durkee said...

"It may well have been Photoshopped, but are we sure which is which? I may not have been looking at it correctly."

This is a lovely piece of visual artwork. I quite agree with that, and said so before. I quite like it, and I wish I'd thought of it. But one thing it is not, is a photograph. Sorry to rain on anyone's parade.

I can tell you exactly how the image was made in Photoshop, if you like. Or rather how I would do it, which is only one possible solution. Photoshop is a flexible tool, often with many paths to the same end result.

The foreground was likely done, I'm pretty sure, with a filter called Flood, available at flamingpear.com:


That filter creates water-surface reflection effects; you can control the amount of waves and ripples with various settings. If you carefully at the shoreline at the edge of the frozen mountains in the image, you can see clearly the boundary were the reflections begin. That's typical of a Flood-generated image.

Next, the moon was put in the sky. As I said before never in a billion years would you get that large scale of a moon image in our planet's actual sky; ask any astronomer, don't take my word for it. Or try this: The moon is in crescent phase right now. Look at it at moonrise, and decide for yourself how big it is in the sky.

It may very well be a crescent moon photo, but I rather think it was a drawing or painted image. Why? Because it's too sharp, too detailed. It has none of the blur or grain associated with typical astrophotography; nor does it have the sharpness and detail of a Hubble image. It might have started as a Hubble image, but it was blurred to be placed in this sky, to match the blurring effects that happen with looking out through a planetary atmosphere. It's called atmospheric scatter.

Next, the sun in this image. If one were to take a photograph facing the sun like that, one would have to deal with two issues: In order to get the sun properly exposed, even to show the sun's golden color, one would have to underexpose the rest of the image. One could achieve this color and disc of sun at sunrise or sunset, especially at high latitudes; but the rest of the image wouldn't be so color-balanced. Look at any actual sunset photographs and compare. Second, shooting with a lens directly into the sun creates lens flare, those little circles or polygons of refracted light that show up on many sunset photos. Of course, one could clean those up in Photoshop by erasing them. It's possible to shoot the sun without getting lens flare, too, but it's tricky: it requires geometrically perfect angles of incident light to make it work. I can do it, as could many experienced photographers. Measuring the apparent geometries available in this image, however, tends to indicate that there should have been lens flare.

So that's my answer to your question. Hope it was useful or interesting.

And just to be clear, in no way does the matter of how this image was made affect it's poetry and beauty. It's a lovely piece of visionary artwork.

Reader Wil said...

It's a beautiful image even if it could be a painting. Fact is that at the poles the moon crescent doesn't take this shape. We saw it in north Australia, which is near the equator, there was a crescent like that. Where I live in middle Europe the crescent is almost vertical. At the poles the crescent is perfectly vertical. I have written about it for skywatch is August or September 2008.
Thank you your visit to my blog.

Reader Wil said...

My post about the moon crescent at the poles or at the equator was written on 11th September 2008.

Art Durkee said...

To add to what Reader WIl said, the angle of the sun in the sky at the poles is always low to the horizon. The moon follows the same orbital ecliptic as always. So the moon can never appear directly overhead, or directly above the sun, at the poles.

Marcy said...

the clouds, like children bursting through the gates,
play every sort of landscape game they know.

Remarkable. I have become involved in a mini-love story with these words.

Garnetrose said...

the Photograph is fantastic.

Anonymous said...