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Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Girl with Racket


Girl with Racket and Shuttlecock
: Jean-Baptiste-Siméon Chardin, c. 1740, oil on canvas, 82 x 66 cm (Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence)


You might fill empty futures with your raging
Power.  Everything is possible.
The story has not yet begun yet promises
Much.  Having glimpsed the magic ring
On the captive's finger, the bright-eyed heroine
Might turn out to be you, making your way
Up mountains of difficulty to shining
Temples in which is kept alive that flame
Of truth which burns at the heart of the ark
Of the covenant of being you.
You might, in the forest, hear that falling tree.
You're young, you want to be free, but aren't yet.
You might walk the cow, ride the rocket ship.
You might book the flight, then jump out of the plane.
You might meet a boy named X.  He might say
You don't know me, nor do I know you.


Susan Kay Anderson said...

They gave me an impossible task
play with the racket
they said.
Even though my hair was grey
I was young at heart
bouncing around
the little town
in my tennis shoes
avoiding the spiders
grinding dust.

The courts lit at night
under the stars
when things cooled down
it didn't seem
as if any time passed
there hitting the ball
back and forth.

I can't say I got better
only more open
to the passing shots
some I hit
many were missed.
Oohs and ahhs
deep inside me.

Susan Kay Anderson said...

The "walk the cow" part, so familiar. Nice, about the ring. The forest attracts the most. Jumping into the arms of X. Been there, done that. They crossed at the last moment, like his name, gets me to thinking about that flame.

TC said...

Not very Chardin... but still:

Walking the Cow: Daniel Johnston (from Hi, How Are You? 1983): Silent Snow, Secret Snow Version

K. McCarty: Rocketship (from Dead Dog's Eyeball, 1994)

Susan Kay Anderson said...

The Girl With The Racket Tattoo

Knew what to do.
On her mind, murder
Calculations of the riot

She kept this all
Under her hat
Her little cap.

A racket
Just about as good
As a pearl earring
Although not
As small.



How still she is, holding that raquet, looking ahead (or inward?) toward what might be.


light coming into fog against invisible
top of ridge, bird slanting to the left
in foreground, sound of wave in channel

each next thing, which does
not ‘flow’ or ‘change’

object next to silent, more
so, how to hear sound

silver of sunlight reflected in channel,
fog on horizon to the left of the point

Wooden Boy said...

When I saw the shuttlecock, Nancy from Ford Madox Ford's "The Good Soldier" came into my head:

"Yes, society must go on; it must breed, like rabbits. That is what we are here for. But then, I don't like society--much. I am that absurd figure, an American millionaire, who has bought one of the ancient haunts of English peace. I sit here, in Edward's gun-room, all day and all day in a house that is absolutely quiet. No one visits me, for I visit no one. No one is interested in me, for I have no interests. In twenty minutes or so I shall walk down to the village, beneath my own oaks, alongside my own clumps of gorse, to get the American mail. My tenants, the village boys and the tradesmen will touch their hats to me. So life peters out. I shall return to dine and Nancy will sit opposite
me with the old nurse standing behind her. Enigmatic, silent, utterly well-behaved as far as her knife and fork go, Nancy will stare in front of her with the blue eyes that have over them strained, stretched brows. Once, or perhaps twice, during the meal her knife and fork will be suspended in mid-air as if she were trying to think of something that she had forgotten. Then she will say that she believes in an Omnipotent Deity or she will utter the one word "shuttle-cocks", perhaps. It is
very extraordinary to see the perfect flush of health on her cheeks, to see the lustre of her coiled black hair, the poise of the head upon the neck, the grace of the white hands--and to think that it all means nothing--that it is a picture without a meaning. Yes, it is queer. "

The girl in the Chardin picture stands in that moment, racket in hand, where Everything is Possible is the writing in the mind. Nothing is yet played out, promises yet to go rotten.

The poem is full of boy and girl energy. The ghost of Jonson's boy may be somewhere here.

P.S. Is it a key or are those scissors hanging from the blue ribbon?

Susan Kay Anderson said...

I stared into the flame.
It was a living fire.
I liked the warmth
snowy parts
Of a hellish season.
Flowers and all
The work
Had to be a challenge.
I called to him
To that boy
His exuberance

Wooden Boy said...

Thanks for the link to the Daniel Johnston track, TC. Beautiful. I was wondering where the phrase "walking the cow" came from.

TC said...

Ah, for the lost memory of Youthful Sports!

TC said...


This might be of interest too:

Walking the Cow: Daniel Johnston: from Hi, How Are You? (1983)

Issa's Untidy Hut said...


"that flame / Of truth which burns at the heart of the ark / Of the covenant of being you."

This line, there is a lump in my throat ... very fine.


TC said...

As to the appurtenances and accessories of the young lady's costume, we have been lost for some hours in a sea of closed robes, hoop petticoats, false rumps and long aprons.

The fashion marvels of the epoch encompass several mysteries.

From the Universal Spectator, five years after Chardin made his painting, we learn that the French styles had already crossed the water.

"The enormous abomination of the Hoop Petticoat... a girl of seventeen taking up the whole side of a street with her hollow standing petticoat", & c.

TC said...


Those lines, and in fact the whole drift and gist of what's happening here, came out of several decades of exposure, once upon a time, long ago, to the Planet of The Young...

(My Mr. Chips Experience.)

Susan Kay Anderson said...

Hello, Mr. Chips
You save my life
Day after day
When all is said
My mind
My life
Soap opera
During the night
Remember the fallen
List their names
Deeds ideas
To make them real
An antidote
magical comb
golden horse
their well-creased
folds fantastic
despite rubble
many treasures
Seemingly buried
Seemingly forgotten
come to life light

Susan Kay Anderson said...

Tom Clark, you know all the cool stuff.

vazambam (Vassilis Zambaras) said...

Thanks, Tom.

BTW, you might do all of these things so poignantly set down in your poem or you might not, but reading this poem--now that does count for a lot.