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Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Pink Trees

for Z.

Pink Trees: Selden Connor Gile, 1919

The message erupts each springtime
What we do know we don't know till we know it
Has slipped away through the airy spring branches
To drift up in thin grains through the gray-white sky
And here on the blue clay earth below it
Down a yellow Spanish East Bay hillside flow
The pink trees.



Dale said...

This is a great response to gnosis. What you know and don't know spool of into the unexpected--or the all too intimate assumptions that masquerade as knowledge at times. Not that gnosis needs a response, but the mind does tend to privilege consciousness--pretends to certain claims that, perhaps, it might leave alone. Having just finished writing a "dissertation" (ugly word) I look now, more frequently, to let my thought-feelings wander. Thanks for these tree....

Anonymous said...


Yes, the spool is like the reel on the mental fly rod... as one casts absentmindedly into the vast lagoons of Unknowingness that surround the microscopic islands of "Thought".

Anonymous said...

Many thanks for the dedication, Tom, a beautiful poem.

I like the way the melancholy of What we do know we don't know till we know it / Has slipped away... drift... thin grains... gray-white.. transforms into vividness as the colours erupt, blue, yellow, pink, and flow, with the strength of earth, hillside, trees.

Anonymous said...


And many thanks to you.

The poem tries to feel the force and energy of the painting.

Selden Connor Gile was the genius of a little group of painters called the Society of Six who worked in this landscape hereabouts, bringing in their response to the East Bay landscape something of what had been learned from Impressionists and Fauves. But Gile also brought a significant and specific gift of his own for plein-air painting with a particular colorist's eye and the bold, sure hand of a master.

Born in Maine (1877), he left business college to Go West as a young man, got a job as paymaster on a ranch in Northern Califonia, fell in love with the ranch owner's daughter--and when her disapproving parents then shipped her off to Europe, where she quickly married another, reacted by pretty much steering clear of women the rest of his life.

In 1905 he moved to Oakland, sold ceramic construction materials to those rebuilding after the '06 Quake. He loved the outdoors and hiking, painted his landscapes "wet" and direct from nature and often thus completed a painting in a matter of hours.

Gile was a legendary host and provider for a group of artists, became the center of a rough and ready male-painter milieu, befriended Jack London and asserted a sort of working-artist ethos consistent with the freshness and immediacy of his painting.

He worked in the East Bay until 1927, when he moved to Marin County, where among comparatively elevated social circumstances he fell to heavy drinking, and his work suffered in consequence. There are some late paintings from New Mexico. He died in 1947 and is buried in the cemetery at Mt. Tamalpais in Marin--a talismanic mountain he had loved to paint.

vikingdog said...

I love this poem Tom, thank you. And thanks too for the bio of Selden Connor Gile. I'll have to try to find more of his paintings.

Long live BTP!


Anonymous said...

Pink trees seem to come straight from a dream in which everything is peaceful, and warm, and delightful... just like your poem =)

TC said...

In the same dream: your Patagonian Prunus blossoming springtime universe.