November 14, 2012

A picture is a poem without words....(Horace)

Happy birthday, Claude Monet!  Thank you for sharing your artistic vision with the world and for making the world a more beautiful place.  In college I fell in love with the impressionists, Monet, Manet, Renoir, Degas and Cassatt, and made many trips to Kansas City's beautiful Nelson Art Museum to visit the Impressionist Gallery.  Now that I live fairly close to Chicago, my trips to the Windy City almost always include a visit to the renowned Art Institute, which houses one of the world's most famous Impressionist collections, including over 30 Monets (and six Haystacks!).  And it's not just the ethereal visual art that touches my soul...the music of Debussy, Ravel, Satie and Faure' explore delicate textures and a veiling of sonorities, capturing the movement of color and light in an opalescent and almost transparent fashion that takes my breath away.  Longfellow wrote this lovely poem, Sunrise on the Hills, in 1825, fifteen years before Monet was born, but I think they would have recognized in each other a true kindred spirit in their love of nature. 

File:Claude Monet, Impression, soleil levant, 1872.jpg
Impression, Sunrise by Monet--this painting gave rise to the name of the Impressionist movement
Sunrise on the Hills
by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
I stood upon the hills, when heaven's wide arch
Was glorious with the sun's returning march,
And woods were brightened, and soft gales
Went forth to kiss the sun-clad vales.
The clouds were far beneath me; bathed in light,
They gathered mid-way round the wooded height,
And, in their fading glory, shone
Like hosts in battle overthrown.
As many a pinnacle, with shifting glance.
Through the gray mist thrust up its shattered lance,
And rocking on the cliff was left
The dark pine blasted, bare, and cleft.
The veil of cloud was lifted, and below
Glowed the rich valley, and the river's flow
Was darkened by the forest's shade,
Or glistened in the white cascade;
Where upward, in the mellow blush of day,
The noisy bittern wheeled his spiral way.

I heard the distant waters dash,
I saw the current whirl and flash,
And richly, by the blue lake's silver beach,
The woods were bending with a silent reach.
Then o'er the vale, with gentle swell,
The music of the village bell
Came sweetly to the echo-giving hills;
And the wild horn, whose voice the woodland fills,
Was ringing to the merry shout,
That faint and far the glen sent out,
Where, answering to the sudden shot, thin smoke,
Through thick-leaved branches, from the dingle broke.

If thou art worn and hard beset
With sorrows, that thou wouldst forget,
If thou wouldst read a lesson, that will keep
Thy heart from fainting and thy soul from sleep,
Go to the woods and hills! No tears
Dim the sweet look that Nature wears.

Haystacks at Sunrise--one of my favorites!

1 comment:

  1. I've been to that Art Museum a few times, but not in many years. I love the Impressionists, too.