~ detail from Monet's "The Pond at Montgeron"
Here we have another splendid "parent poem" by jan-u-wine, its sombre beauty flowing down the page like the river it describes, its joys and sorrows flowing through the consciousness of the boy who lived by it, both its bright surface and unplumbed depths. To accompany the poem, I chose a painting by Oscar Claude Monet (1840-1926).
Monet and his wife Camille, with their young son Jean, were staying with wealthy friends, art collector Ernest Hoschedé and his wife Alice, at their chateau at Montgeron, then a village southeast of Paris. Monet was commissioned to paint four decorative panels of the chateau's interior, but he also painted scenes in its extensive grounds.
The painting for this entry shows a view of the pond at Montgeron, its waters dark under the shade, the trees leaning towards its deep-sparkled surface as if to see themselves -- or into the depths below. The scene is full of mystery for me, even foreboding. But, at the same time, the scene is full of life, vibrating with light and colour, in the trees on the shore, the yellow flowers in the mid-distance and the almost indecipherable white cottages on the hillside. That the water is stained with ale-brown colours makes me think of the Brandywine (baranduin - 'golden-brown river'). And there is even a woman standing on the bank, a stick or a rush in her hand, a smaller figure sitting in the grass. Probably these were modeled by Camille and her son.
I love the whole picture, but the water in the foreground is, to me, nearly mesmerizing, its rippled surface sparkling with the colours of the world above and the depths below, all shot through and suffused with light, until you can't tell which is which. In that way, I thought it reflected well the memories and emotions this poem depicts.
Jan-u-wine, in an email, dashed off some very insightful thoughts about the painting and how it relates to the way she writes:It really is a wonderful painting. I suppose people might wonder how I paint vivid pictures with (relatively) few words, but I wonder the same about this picture: how is it that Monet, with mere *suggestions*, so beautifully *invokes* such resonating emotions? In fact, I even feel that it is *because* it is suggested and not....stated, that I so heartly understand and appreciate the pictue. It speaks not of intellect, but of heart. There is a message here, a billet-doux of autumn (or perhaps it is summer), something which speaks like the wind, and the water, and the small rustle of leaves, mysterious, lively (and yes, foreboding) all at once.
The Pond at Montgeron by Claude Monet, 1876.….they are but beggars…..
Mumma liked the River,
liked the green-gold-eyed slowness of it,
liked the rush of places where uncalm
hissed and tangled
within the mouths of sharp-toothed rock.
Liked the way a sleeping pike might lie upon its stilled surface in the very deep of summer.*
(myself beneath the sweet weight of blankets,
near-stilled candle miming dragon-shadows upon the wall)
she would tell me tales of it,
tales of warm summer-laz'd drifts,
tales of iced crystal,
freed and racing
beneath the touch of the Sun.
She sang to me of all
it might entwine
within its journey to sister-Sea:
stones and trees,
fields and forests,
beasts and two-footed folk.
All these things she spoke *to* me,
story and song,
my dremes filled with
and I heard the chuckle and sigh
of water woven about me,
smelled the river-rushes
warming in the Sun,
tasted the bitter-brightness
of the water-blood of Her
upon my tongue,
*touched* the gem'd ripples
resounding from Her heart.
That is the place Mumma found,
Mumma, and Da, too,
the coils of Her shining silver beneath the Moon,
voice dangerous and wanting,
the unstoppable life of Her filling lungs yet tugging
the rushes holding the pale remains within their tender-tipped arms.
I watched the quiet of Mumma's face,
Da's fingers caught, still, in the midnight of her hair.
I wondered what they had seen,
beneath the armoured ripples,
held close within chill-weighted arms.
I reasoned that Mumma should tell me of it,
soft voice making naught of the darkness,
lips kissing my brow, after, for goodnight.
I never knew that tale,
nor (ever again) the promise of a sweet waking
releasing me to dreme.
There was no sense to it,
no sense to *me*.
That is not right.
Sun shining gold-hot, or dimmed beneath grey rain,
Moon frowning upon me, or helped on by only the small light of stars,
I sought them.
In harvest fields and darkened forest, I sought them.
Beneath leaves of green, between the pages of rune-spilt books, I sought them.
On a day of winter,
trees deadened by snow,
the river-traitor held fast from malice by her cloak of ice,
I crawl beneath their bed.
With a sight which only those who are beggars of the heart might have,
I *see* them there,
in the forgotten velvet dust that time has left me:
a solitary sooted strand of hair, the pale half-crescent of a nail,
the shining inconsequence of an ivory button......
there is, even,
a ginger-coloured lash,
its sickle-point of fire lighting the shadow'd floor.
I find my rest here often,
held fast by distant memory,
in beggar's velvet**.
Notes from jan-u-wine:
*Primula is being romantic, in her story-telling. Pike do not sleep upon a water surface. However, they are, perhaps, faculative air-breathers, and, as such, may momentarily be observed "resting" upon it.
**In British English, dust bunnies are sometimes called beggar's velvet.
***with a thank you to William Shakespeare for the title, a perversion of Romeo and Juliet:
"they are but beggars who can count their worth; But my true love is grown to such excess I cannot sum up sum of half my wealth."
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