The Blog of John Walford, British-born, but long resident in The United States. I am an art historian, currently studying satire in Netherlandish art, an amateur photographer, and occasional writer, who writes here about art, photography, and the human condition--some of it 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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Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Under the Still Surface

Nature looking at it self

Tonight I returned to Idea-Listic's "Nature looking at itself," uploaded to Flick, October 22, 2007 (see: Nature Looking At Itself) and pondered:

Under The Still Surface

That surface of water, so still, unruffled, calm,
What dark secrets does it hide?
Scum, dirt, weed, slime, and filth?
And things yet worse! A rusty gun,
Tossed there after a bank heist;
The corpse of someone's wife's mother,
Thrown there years ago to cover a crime.
A dead dog, that once barked in the neighbors yard,
One time too many, early on a Sunday morning.
An unwanted child, left there to drown,
And the bones from a thousand fish.

All such works of darkness allude the eye,
That glances contentedly over the surface,
And senses only a great tranquility.
Now look deep into my eyes,
And what do you see?
Glistening surfaces, white, black, and blue,
Beyond which lies unfathomable darkness,
Like secrets buried in a tranquil lake.
--- John Walford, Passion Week, 2008.


  1. such a dark poem early in the morning he! Like it matters when and where...
    I'm familiar with that way of feeling and seeing. I wished to ask u are u OK....but judging someones way of feeling based on a poem may be redundant. Often the poem seems to be just a momentary twitch of certain realm of a tiny burst of energy...but, since all small thing reflect the great ones, i'll just say; hope all is well and I liked your poem and the way it displays one of many many ''good'' and ''bad'' which stays hidden from our eyes...limiting us, helping us...defining us...

  2. My dear Robert:

    Thank you! Yes, in fact I am very well, but very weary. The poem does not reflect my state of being--thank goodness, but rather, it is a generalized way to suggest that there is great darkness in all of us, even behind the shimmering gleam of bright eyes--just as there is darkness under the shimmering surface of your lake.

    I do, though, greatly appreciate your concern for my well-being, especially as I do endure periods of great darkness from time to time. Mercifully not at the moment.


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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, art historian, teaching 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. I am currently studying satire in Netherlandish art. 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 eight 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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