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Wednesday, 5 February 2014



Le bol de lait: Pierre Bonnard, 1919; image by bodythongs, 22 September 2013 (Tate Liverpool)

The fading strains of the dying refrain
warbled by the teakettle to the timeless beauty
who spends her time in the mind that ocean
closed off from us
brought back to her through the shadows of the afternoon
a thought that might have interested us
had we but known it 


La femme au chat ou le chat exigeant: Pierre Bonnard, 1912; image by LN BREUT, 30 October 2010 (Musée d'Orsay, Paris)

The letter: Pierre Bonnard, 1906; image by mbell1975, 26 December 2010 (National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C.)

for A


Nin Andrews said...

Beautiful. So beautiful and moving. I love the the Bonnard paintings as well.

TC said...

Thanks very much, Nin.

That demanding white cat being kept away from the fish in the dish by Madame Bonnard closely resembles a certain indulged feline familiar of the timeless beauty, as it happens.

Poet Red Shuttleworth said...

Lovely... poem and Bonnard.

mistah charley, ph.d. said...

it is so often a pleasure to come this blog - thank you, tc

Hazen said...

A perfect trifecta: Hardy, Bonnard . . . and cats.

Jonathan Chant said...

Gentle, lovely.

Unknown said...

yes absolutely lovely timeless beauty yearning pensee

great poem

thanks Tom


vazambam (Vassilis Zambaras) said...

Well, we know one thing now--how timeless such things are when seen like this.

ACravan said...

As Nin says (and the others confirm), so beautiful and moving. One thing that strikes me about this is how fine a lyric it would be to a popular song. And how useful in that context. I reread it to cite a particular line or phrase, but I think all of this would sing to a song. And the colors are the ones I've been thinking about all day driving through and then shoveling white.

TC said...

Very lovely comments and apologies for the belated acknowledgment.

The poem has a songlike phrasal measure,

and to have that remarked upon is of course a pleasure

-- not forgetting the fathomless compunction of Wittgenstein:

"If I were to write a good sentence which by accident turned out to consist of two rhyming lines, that would be a blunder."

Bonnard's warm plum tones did indeed seem to valiantly combat the weather, yes.

And the daubs of sunny yellow in the white cat's fur almost tempt one to dare to believe this bone chilling winter will someday be over.

Talking of bones, as I've brilliantly managed to dislocate two rather important ones lately (an old habit, or rather genetic defect, the joints charmingly degenerating apace), and it's now a case of hip bone connected to the thighbone by a broken wing and a prayer to gods that no longer exist, it's been nothing but piss and moan, whinge and bellyache round here of late -- Timeless Beauty meanwhile carrying the sinking ark of the haunted house on her own sturdy crooked-number shoulders and artificial body parts, hauling a wire cart on wheels uphill from the market in the damp chill of the current brief interval between storms.

So here's to her, our longsuffering Muse -- and may she one day escape to enjoy the aid and adulation of a more capable constituency!

TC said...

Oh, and by the way, our Lud, always a ball of fun, life of the party -- and how does he get treated?

The blogger couldn't be bothered to do the italics code (there ARE limits to the service here, mind, even when it's the greatest of all philosophers we're quoting).

Anyhow, *blunder* was italicized in that hand-writ LW journal note I've cited above.

So just imagine it as being italicized.

(LW had this *thing* about poetry, his journals never stop tentatively circling and fluttering about it...)

Wooden Boy said...

A thought that might have interested us
had we but known it

This catches the spirit of Bonnard's paintwork. We can only feel ourselves halfway in - nevertheless, the intimacy's full and beautiful and hard to look on (even at a distance).

TC said...

In fact that thought of which we did not know was evidently being entertained by an actual living woman, separate, apart, an individual person, and nothing to do with Bonnard or brushes.

The latter came to mind, and then to hand, as one sought what was once called "an objective correlative" for the emotion.

That "petite sensation" of which Cezanne spoke.

Of course we cannot know Madame Bonnnard's thoughts as she was posing, but it does appear that the appropriate respectful distance is being kept, within the intimacy.

I'd have described the colour tones as warm and welcoming -- saying to the heart of the unhurried passer-by, welcome, come all the way in! -- after all one need not always crush up too close at risk of breaking things down into jagged bits.