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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Thursday, May 29, 2008

Hope Sprouts Eternal, 2008


Hope Sprouts Eternal, 2008, originally uploaded by johnwalford.

Dedicated to the Memory of John Fawcett, Head of Collection Development, Buswell Library, Wheaton College, Illinois. A man of great soul, mighty laughter, profound depth of faith, a counselor of others, a musician, and, in his long battle with cancer, an inspiration and amazement to us all.

"Hope Sprouts Eternal"

When living,
Never short of words,
Neither you, nor I.
We laughed together,
But I never sent you
Library Choice cards.
We lunched and laughed,
Debated, and shared,
And you waited for cards--
Long past overdue--
Buried on my cluttered desk,
Neither ever short of words.

Now departed,
I have no words,
None adequate
To capture you.
No words to say
How much inspired.
No way to say
How much admired.
How can I say,
What fortitude,
What faith, what
Courage too!

In doing battle
With our last foe,
What did you show,
Amidst such woe?
But to trust and know
Hope sprouts eternal.
This was enough,
More than enough,
And was said
With few words.
Actions carried them
Half way round the world.

--John Walford, May 29, 2008

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Memorial Day Lament, 2008


An_Illusive_Freedom_2007, originally uploaded by johnwalford.

Memorial Day Lament, 2008

Four thousand US troops, plus some,
Each died in his or her own way.
For each, it was just another day,
Waking up to heat and sand.
It was Iraq, could be Iran;
Then again, Afghanistan.

For each, it was just one more day,
The way they knew to get their pay.
Some driven by desire to serve;
Some, indifferent, needing a meal,
And rescue from the city street,
Not knowing they, their end would meet.

Four thousand with a mom somewhere;
Some never knew their deadbeat dad,
And now, will never know their children.
All once kicked the dirt somewhere,
On dusty playgrounds, in US schools,
And wound up one day on boot camp rules.

Why did they enlist? Each their own tale,
Some dreams of glory, some needing ale.
But mostly, mom said, “look boy,
You got’ya get your self a job,
For I ain’t feedin’ ya no more.”
Now sobs that sonny boy’s no more.

--John Walford, Memorial Day, 2008

Monday, May 26, 2008

Ominous


Ominous, originally uploaded by beau-foto.

Yesterday, Flickr's "beau-foto" uploaded this skyscape, "Ominous." I suspect the timing was not coincidental. And so I add to it these lines:

Memorial Day, 2008

Memorial Day 2008!
Memories of what?
War, courage, and hate.
Those who fought,
I them salute,
Those who did not,
Mostly, don't give a toot.
--And that's too bad!

"Ominous" what omens
Clouds and sun-beams
Brings down below?
Those who fought, they know!
Those who didn't, don't know,
But we all hope:
Memorial Day, 2008
Please, George, end the hate.
--JW, 5/26/2008

The Fate of a Mouse, or, ...Where Angels Fear To Tread, 2008

The Fate of the Mouse, or,
…Where Angels Fear To Tread, 2008

Listen now, "Mush" Bush
I’m hopping mad,
Four thousand down,
And that’s just our lads.
What about the injured--
Lives never be the same.
What about civilians--
Ordinary mums and dads,
And all the little children
Burnt by bombs?

You thought Saddam
Just a sitting duck.
All those weapons?
You were out of luck.
Of fat oil revenues, did
You and Cheney dream,
Instead our economy,
You simply did cream.
As for the terrorists--
Played into their hand.

What now of America,
Its credibility lost.
Pariah of the world,
And years of good will
Poured down the drain.
Why create such global pain?
Bush and Cheney
In history will go down
One as a schemer,
The other as a clown.
--John Walford, 4/4/2008

4000 Fallen, Salvaging George's "Working Pump," Iraq, April 2008


4000 Fallen, Salvaging George's "Working Pump," Iraq, April 2008

Please note: It can be printed, for public display, on request, at cost, up to 60" x 33.23", or, for best resolution, 48" x 26".

Left center image, front page, Chicago Tribune, 4/11/2008; right image, detail from the memorial to each individual American soldier killed in the Iraq War, thus far; background: larger details of same, from St. James Episcopal Cathedral, Chicago, 4/12/2008.

Oh! By George!
Can't you see
How delusional
You can be?

Letting people die,
To save your face,
Now truly that is,
A major disgrace.
--JW, 4/12/2008

Just When I Think I See, Dec. 2007


I wrote this on December 6th, 2007, a day when the doctors did not expect my friend and colleague, John Fawcett, to survive the night.
In his great fortitude, defying all medical expectation, he has since celebrated Christmas, Easter, and Pentecost, and been to church most Sundays in between, even if barely able to move, at times.

He has stopped treatment for his cancer, and has already doubled expectations of survival, in that condition. Meanwhile he has inspired so many of us with his courage and fortitude, and his wife, Margie, with her outward serenity, amid the inward turmoil from their joint journey through very dark valleys.

It seems time to post this, which now hangs, framed, in their home.

"Just When I Think To See"

Just when I think I see,
Cloud covers the sun,
And chill sets over my world.
Moisture collects on the window,
Like those endless drops of sadness:
One student with forty stitches in
Her once bright young face.

Another whose dad reaches
Too much for the bottle.
Another friend, doing battle
With a brain tumor,
Losing ground, and
Watched by two small
Children, and his wife.

Tears stream down, inside,
Like water droplets on my window.
Yet, deep down, under the cloud,
Buried under the snow,
Crocuses ready themselves,
And arm for early Spring,
When once more light
Will flood the world.

-- John Walford, December 6, 2007,
for John and Margie Fawcett, and their two young children,
Charlotte and Josiah.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Shadows Fall on Eden, 2008

Shadows Fall on Eden, 1508-2008

Five hundred long years ago,
Did sculptor Michelangelo,
Bend to the Pope's demand,
And paint a ceiling to command.

Cracked and dirty, it did become,
Like all things finite, less than pristine.
Yet for it famous the Chapel Sistine,
From tens of thousands, admiration won.

While Japanese paid to have it cleaned,
Here still smoke-stained, caught my eye.
When Eve and Adam the apple gleaned,
Death and decay followed close by.

Even their clothes the moths did sunder,
Much as winter chill these leaves did shred.
Exposing all that lay there under,
Never again to lie at peace in bed.

The globe itself, like this silver sphere,
Lost its pure sheen, and wrinkled became,
Prone to pollutants in the stratosphere,
Yet each day the moon does wax and wane.

And so our world, rent, weary and worn,
By gusts and tremors, spouts and heaves,
Droughts and floods, cyclones and storm,
And peoples everywhere, scattered like leaves.
--John Walford, 5/25/2008

Saturday, May 24, 2008

true2source's "Communion"



Uploaded to Flickr on April 9, 2008 by true2source, see: http://www.flickr.com/photos/84327574@N00/2402163064/

Flickr's Maurice Flower (Hans) drew my attention to this beautiful work. Thank you Hans. I am glad to have seen it, as it is truly poetic, with the fusion of nature and culture.

Thanks, true2source, for your inspiring work, seen while just browsing your photostream, after seeing this piece, and inspiring me to write:

For true2source, in honor of "Communion"

Diana, goddess of the chase,
Blue moonlight caressing
Your visage fair!
How long, and still you watched
Your hounds; until Nature
Its embrace around you clad
With moss and ivy, in accord,
Finding home with you.
---John Walford, 5/24/08

Fantasy stimulating view


Fantasy stimulating view, originally uploaded by maurice flower.

Hans "Maurice Flower" leads us here through part of the Nationalstadsparken, also called Ekoparken, of Stockholm and Solna in Sweden (see his notes below the original posting of this work on Flickr, 23 May 2008).

Viewing this late on a sleepless night, I reflected as follows:

For Hans, on his "Fantasy Stimulating View"

I wander down a shady path,
Along the verdant forest edge.
Sunlight in open, grassy fields,
Beckons me, for in such
Protected, open space
I take my soul's delight.

Come friend, and wander here,
Your toil and cares forget!
B sure, before you leave,
To draw in its strength,
For when, at last, you turn
And face your weary toil.

Go home not sad,
But much renewed,
Like verdant grass
So richly dewed,
Strength for each day,
Each dawn does bring.

Walk here, and hear
The songbird sing.
When home, it will
In ear still joyful ring.
Your eyes when closed,
This fantasy again will bring.

--John Walford, 3.00am, 5/24/2008,
faint testimony to a sleepless night!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Sati K's Afraid


Afraid, originally uploaded by Sati K..

I was deeply moved by Sati K's truly exceptional, powerful work, powerful in both form and content, which was first uploaded to Flickr by Sati K. on 17 May 08. So I wrote as follows:

Sati's Anxious Monster:

Restless I lay,
Dreaming fearfully,
Of a presence
Dark and heavy:

Behind some bars,
A sinister being,
Helmeted and armed,
In deep shadows lurked.

Facing sideway,
Had he seen me?
I could yet flee,
But where?

Trapped in sleep,
Plunged in darkness,
Nowhere to go,
But back through
Sati's lens.
--JW, 5/18/2008

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Algo's Incredible Blue of Twilight, May 2008



Algo's photograph, originally uploaded to Flickr, May 9, 2008, see: http://www.flickr.com/photos/algo/2477591899/ reminds me of the woodlands of my English childhood, but bluer than my memories, and more beautiful than I could imagine.

In response, I write:

More blue the land than the gray sky.
This does my simple mind defy.
I thought soil brown, offsetting sky,
Yet bluebells here outshine the sky,
And all of nature's laws defy.
- for Algo, from JW, 5/11/08,
with thanks for your many visits to my photos.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

John Walford, Max Ernst’s Forest



John Walford, "Max Ernst’s Forest"
A Retort to Joe McHale

Want it pseudo --
Pseudo profound?
Rub a floorboard,
The public to confound.

Nature holds mystery,
Just look and see,
Moss on wood
Does it for me.
--JW, 5/6/08

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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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