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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Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Ifdefelseif, Dreaming of the Sea, January, 2008

dreaming of the sea, originally uploaded by ifdefelseif.

Seeing Ifdefelseif's "Dreaming of the Sea," of January 2008 (originally posted to Flickr, January 6, 2008, see, my mind immediately jumped to Pieter Bruegel's "Ship in a Stormy Sea," (see below) and to the longstanding Netherlandish tradition of allegorizing the motif of a ship in a stormy sea as an allegory of both the life of man and of the ship of state. This prompted the following lines, addressed to our President, but dedicated to the creator of this striking image, Flickr's "Ifdefelseif."

The Ship of State

Man's life, they say, is like a ship
At risk in a stormy sea.
The Ship of State no less,
In such a mess may be.
Whose at the helm?
By what compass sails?
Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan,
I fear the ship off course.

When Pieter Bruegel
Such ship did paint,
The mariners, he showed,
Had sense to throw,
A barrel to the whale.
The mighty whale
From menacing them,
To menacing it,
Distractedly did turn.
The ship, itself, sailed free.

Now, Mr. President,
Please take a look,
At what now
Our ship does threaten.
The compass tells,
Change course,
Before your helm
Does snap apart.

Pieter Bruegel, Ship Threatened by Whale, with Icarus added by JW

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John Walford

John Walford
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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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