Dancing With Degas

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My last post put me on a Edgar Degas kick and reminded me of a jewelry project I made back in March for the “Springtime in Paris” contest hosted by Michaels craft store.

springtime_in_paris_collageMy project was inspired by Degas’ ballerinas: black ribbon chokers, colorful flowers in their hair and on their tutus. His palette is so vibrant, and I took the liberty of using my own favorite color (orange) as the primary theme.

I didn’t win the contest (the winners are quite something, though — check them out here), but I sure had fun making and designing my entry. The contest motivated me to set the creative fires burning, and it gave me a practical reason to do it (always important, I say).

Here are a few of Degas’ dancers that got my muse going.

“The Star (Dancer on Stage)”

“The Ballet Class”

See more at: http://blogs.getty.edu/iris/honey-theyre-playing-our-painting/#sthash.3COlDbtP.dpuf

“Dancer Taking a Bow (The Prima Ballerina)”

Paris has never been my dream vacation spot — I have a feeling the reality is a far cry from the Hollywood-ized, romanticized motif I see in craft stores and home decor. But if someone legit ever gave me a plane ticket and said, “You’re going to Paris,” I’m sure it would set my little heart dancing. I wouldn’t turn it down — I want to go to the Louvre.

To set foot in the heart of idyllic romanticism
To experience the reality for myself,
not through the rosy glass of imagination, but through
my own senses
— the beautiful, the common, the real.
To stand before representatives of the greatest
artwork of the ages,
with air alone
between me and them.

See the colors – the colors! – and hear the strange, fluid voices
rolling into my ears.
I open my wide mouth to
drink it all in.
Whet the wanderlust and call me away
To La Ville Lumiere,
Ah, Paris!
A star of history’s play,
What riches lie in your coffers?
Let me spy on your stores
Feel your pulse
Taste your air.

 

The Cage

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These verses were inspired by George Herbert’s poem, “The Collar.” In my own words, I echo his same conclusion. The life of a Christian may feel like captivity at times, yet true freedom is never found in rebellion against Him.

With Herbert I would see the world abroad,
Depart this gilded cage and risk the rod,
To live, to learn, to love, to lust, to laugh,
To taste forbidden wine, its stores to quaff.

Behind the bars I hear the whispering sighs,
“Sweet, Youth! Your sun is only on the rise,
Seize up the moment, journey while there’s light,
Forsake the crippling perch; rise up! take flight!”

With flurried wings in flustered thought I beat
Against the bars – relentless, no retreat,
The door gives way and in a frenzied rage
I tumble out and down, rid of my cage.

A sudden swirl, and falling, falling. Then
Tempestuous wind claws at my wings to rend,
Now down and down I plunge, the sun goes dim,
The smoth’ring clouds like ocean waves close in.

Oh, Youth, where is your golden, guiding sun?
Beneath the clouds you’ll find no other one,
Your golden cage looked on the morning’s dawn,
Yet here in ‘freedom’s’ cloud the light is gone.

Worth Repeating 4

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Rather a long quote, but this poem is definitely worth repeating in full.

The Collar

by George Herbert

I struck the board, and cried, “No more;
                         I will abroad!
What? shall I ever sigh and pine?
My lines and life are free, free as the road,
Loose as the wind, as large as store.
          Shall I be still in suit?
Have I no harvest but a thorn
To let me blood, and not restore
What I have lost with cordial fruit?
          Sure there was wine
Before my sighs did dry it; there was corn
    Before my tears did drown it.
      Is the year only lost to me?
          Have I no bays to crown it,
No flowers, no garlands gay? All blasted?
                  All wasted?
Not so, my heart; but there is fruit,
            And thou hast hands.
Recover all thy sigh-blown age
On double pleasures: leave thy cold dispute
Of what is fit and not. Forsake thy cage,
             Thy rope of sands,
Which petty thoughts have made, and made to thee
Good cable, to enforce and draw,
          And be thy law,
While thou didst wink and wouldst not see.
          Away! take heed;
          I will abroad.
Call in thy death’s-head there; tie up thy fears;
          He that forbears
         To suit and serve his need
          Deserves his load.”
But as I raved and grew more fierce and wild
          At every word,
Methought I heard one calling, Child!
          And I replied My Lord. 

Joy Hulga

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In response to Flannery O’Connor’s short story, Good Country People.

Seductress, she perceived herself as one,
Her cunning so unconsciously applied
To overwhelm his lesser, simple mind
With genius. Ah! a fog-free mind had she.

Secured by thoughts of Nothing she took off
To meet her object with her intellect,
(A boy so pure, so sweet, so like a child),
Inform him, yes, she’d liberate his mind.

Enlightened, she perceived herself as such,
She took no notice of his pressing kiss,
The surge instead improved her reasoning,
Sufficient, smart, and in control was she.

But then, how dare he doubt her suppleness,
She showed how independent she could be,
Then lying in the loft they kissed again,
He mumbled while her faculties grew sharp.

Alert and wise she knew herself to be,
(Alert, of course, means never noticing
When someone steals your glasses off your face),
A patronizing voice and pride had she.

But what a nerve he struck when he required
To see her peacock tail, her wooden leg,
But then she caved – he was so innocent,
Her heart had changed, he’d found her inward truth.

But then a shift. She saw herself as one
Divested of superiority,
His craftiness he consciously applied
To overcome her. Helpless, mad was she.

With leg in hand, or rather in his bag,
He vanished down the ladder, fled the barn,
Her intellect defeated by his wiles,
She watched the scene in all its irony.

Reliant she had made herself to be,
What happened? Her intelligence had failed
To see through his good country ‘Chrustian’ mask,
Dismembered, fooled, and left alone was she.

Digby Geste

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I recently re-watched the 1939 version of Beau Geste, starring Gary Cooper, Ray Milland, and Robert Preston. It became one of my favorite films the first time I saw it, and not long after, my poetry class gave me an excellent opportunity to sing the praises of the loyalty and brotherly love that the story defends. If this poem doesn’t make sense to you, I recommend you find a copy of the movie and watch it.

In disbelief, he stares with searching eyes
Past corpses leaning strangely at their posts,
And then with horror he his brother spies,
Laid low in battle by the Tuareg host.
The sight confirms the thought he fears the most,
He falls upon the well-loved form, who sleeps
In Legion garb, face silent as a ghost,
Blue eyes forever closed in death’s dark deeps.
He clasps his hand caressingly, and grieving, weeps.

Pain overcome by loyalty and love,
He shoulders now his brother’s body dear.
Below the walls, secluded from above,
He lays him on a cot, a warrior’s bier,
With Markoff at the foot, an unvoiced jeer,
Then kerosene and bedding fuel the blaze.
The flag of France, a shroud to be revered,
Conceals his flesh and blood from future gaze.
A Viking’s funeral; Last Post he staunchly plays.