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The Blog of John Walford, British-born, but long resident in The United States. I am a retired art historian, an amateur photographer, and occasional writer, who writes here about art, photography, and the human condition--some of it attempted ekphratic poetry, responding to works of art. This is to be a site for words and images, interacting on one another, as vehicles of human expression.

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Sunday, April 2, 2017

Glimpsed Through a Glass Darkly 2016


Glimpsed Through a Glass Darkly, Dec. 2016

To see the tiny raindrops,
Run rivulets down the glass
Stirs the fluttering heart
Of a tender, feeling soul,
Recalling childhood days;
Passed in pensive solitude,
Surrounded by other boys,
Who did not hear the rain
Whispering sadness in my ear,
Trickling down into my heart.

Sixty years on, still gazing
Into the still, silent darkness,
And listening to the soft rain,
Chattering on the window pane.
I’m still dreaming of England,
Of nights of solitary thoughts,
Sharing space with other boys,
Yet inwardly shivering, alone.
Tucked under my school blankets,
Tuned to the pitter-patter of rain.

Yet now, by night, eyes searching
Through the still, filtered darkness
Sensing rhythm in moist rivulets
Running like tears from sad eyes,
See past the moist condensation
And the bone chill of tapered icicles.
Grasping for any portents of Advent
Seeking in the stilled silence beyond
Find intonation of hope, redemption,
Glimpsed through a glass darkly.
- John Walford, 12/12/16.

This is a reworking of a piece made some years ago.

Sunday, November 3, 2013


Lost Sunlight, 2013

The clock turned counter
One fulsome, sunlit hour.
Sunday slumberers
Turned the other way.
Missing the radiance
Of this bright day.
Cursed the soul that
Skipped that blessed hour,
Plunged into Winter,
To nestle in his bower.

-- John Walford, November 3rd, 2013.



Monday, March 18, 2013

Flickr's Melisenda2010's "La chiesetta di S. Martino", 2013


La chiesetta di S. Martino, originally uploaded by Melisenda2010.

"San Martino - Nestled, Securely, under the Hills"
To stroll, to lean on a balcony, to look out,
And let one's eyes feast, where others have before.
Sunshine, warm after winter, caresses the soil,
Readies it for the first bloom of Spring!
And all a while, San Martino's has stood there,
Weathering each winter, stalwart, symbol of hope,
There through all the changing seasons,
Nestled under hillside shelter, its pink tower,
Standing steady, there for us to reassure!
--JW, for Melisenda2010, March 18, 2013.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Flickr's Edinburgh Nette's "fall falls"



fall falls, originally uploaded by Edinburgh Nette.
"Time Frozen"

Stilling the stream
Of rushing water,
Time frozen,
So Nature's glory,
As Autumn caught
On it's fatal way
Dead downstream,
All the better seen!
-- JW, for Janette, a deep bow, February 26, 2013.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Flickr's Jacob Schere's Meiji Jingu (Shrine) Clear Spring Well, Self Portrait

"Well Gazing"

Three worlds I saw below,
One - made of pebbles, and stones -
Really was below, and would let me go
No further down. Sealed, definite, stop!
One - seen below, but not really so -
Threw a feathery expanse of delicate
Limbs, a protective shroud, over me.
Yet there was a third, beyond,
Grey, and powder blue, impenetrable;
But parting its veil, here and there,
I thought to glimpse, or did I imagine,
A force, a life, an ineffable energy.

--JW, for the well-gazer, Jacob Schere, February 5, 2013

Monday, December 17, 2012

Walford, (Ewan) John, & Maria Dellù, Wedding, Dec 16, 1972 (photo by Claudio Savignago)

Walford-Dellù - Forty Years On,
December 16, 2012

Separated by six years of war, sides, and more;
Separated by country, language, taste and culture;
Raised so differently, harsh town and country ease;
One faced so young into life’s severest challenges;
The other too long protected from its stormy blasts.
So separated, so different, so sure no chance to meet.

Who would have thought, could have guessed?
Who predicted that two such paths could cross?
Or in the crossing, either or anything be noticed?
Does even art, education, the thirst for knowledge
Usually bring two from so far, so close? Maybe!
But into a viable and lasting union – that’s rare!

Encounter! That’s a marvel! Attraction, a mystery!
In Amsterdam, famed ‘great arc of the refugees,’
There in Amsterdam, anything may seem possible!
In the sixties and seventies, there did pot abound,
And long-haired hippies by the shipload! – Us too!
But there was more to Amsterdam than hippies!

Young naval officer, in Nazi war-camp, finding faith,
Freed, returns home, studies, teaches theology and art.
Now there, in such miracle, a new story finds a start.
Drawn by whispers of ideas that set minds swimming,
Young disciples from odd places are thereto drawn,
And two young lives find fresh opening, just after dawn!

A chance encounter, after a long journey, breakfast
Bringing welcome renewal, warming body and soul.
Conversation that opens windows into seeking minds,
Finds concord, where concord unexpectedly resides.
God honors no divisions of class or culture! Truth shines
In radiant beauty, wherever it is received and cherished.

Forty years on! Yet two more countries later, together!
Children born, raised, loved and launched - released
To raise families of their own - From solitude, a tribe!
Many years of sharing stories, stories that give meaning
To the mystery of each couple’s path into deeper union,
Held together by some marvelous glue, the world calls love.
-- John Walford, for Maria Dellù, for forty December 16ths.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

My own piece: "It Comes To This, Nov 2012"



It Comes To This, Nov 2012, originally uploaded by johnwalford.
"It Comes to This, Nov 2012"

Once it was all anticipation, a slight seed.
We keenly watched it becoming, itself.
Tossed in the wind, in the heat of the sun,
Glorious in its ripeness. Then came the Fall.
Hard to observe, it stalks up on us all;
Yet, finally, it comes down to this.

-- JW, on bidding farewell to a long-time colleague, Nov 15, 2012

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

"The Way We Don't Yet See"

"The Way We Don't Yet See"

I walk this single, rutted path, alone.
Mist spares me seeing what awaits.
Trees and fences keep me on track,
Lest I would veer from my allotted path.
Dropping steeply before me,
It leads me.... I know not where.

-John Walford, for Boccacino, November 14, 2012, 
with gratitude, and loving affection. Please see: http://www.flickr.com/photos/boccacino/8184460767/

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Salomon van Ruysdael (1600-1670) - River View with a Chuch and Ferry. Detail. 1649. Bequest of Abraham Bredius, 1946. From 28 April 2012, around 100 highlights from the Mauritshuis collection are on display at the Gemeentemuseum, The Hague, for a period of about two years.

This reminds me of the years I spent as a student of art history, living in Amsterdam. This is so beautifully photographed that it renders palpable all the best of what I remember of the landscapes of this generation of Dutch masters, and, I am ashamed to admit, it brings tears to my eyes - perhaps the feeling of not having seen - in such proximity - that which I came to love so deeply, for now too many years, living in The States. It brings back another world, which i long since left behind.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Flickr's dou_ble_you's "+!," 2012


+!, originally uploaded by dou_ble_you.

"Subliminal Message"

Tender expressions, left behind;
Passion, waiting to be embraced.

- JW, a salute for UU's careful eye, June 7th., 2012.

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John Walford

John Walford
Not All That Meets The Eye

About Me

My photo
United States
I am a British-born, retired art historian, who taught in the USA; I studied law, in England,1964-68; worked part-time in the art world, 1968-69; then studied art history at the Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam, 1969-76; completed my Ph.D. diss. at the University of Cambridge, 1981; moved to the States in 1981, and have since written, or co-authored, other books. My wife, Maria, was born in Milan, Italy, where she worked as an interpreter, in business; she spent seven years in Switzerland, at the University of Lausanne, 1963-70. She came to Amsterdam in 1971, and we soon married. She is a wife, mother, literary critic, of Italian (and French) literature, and completed her Ph. D. diss. in 2002, at the University of Chicago, on Cesare Pavese and His Critics. We have three married children, and twelve grandchildren, all of whom we excessively adore! I welcome dialog about art, photography, human behavior, beliefs, and motivation from all comers, regardless of race, color, gender, orientation, values, or beliefs. This is to be a site for words and images, as vehicles of human expression, around topics of mutual interest.

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