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, September 14, 2008

In Seeing What We Fail To See, 2008

I know some who struggle to see the light on their paths, right now. It happens to all of us at different times. This is for those moments.

"In Seeing, What We Fail To See"

Unseeing, in the painful darkness,
We stare into the void,
Casting around for somewhere,
To find a glimpse,
Even the slightest glimmer
Of warming light,
To relieve the painful
Shadows in our souls.

We chance upon a pool.
There, in the shadows, waiting,
Waiting for our gaze,
Our eye, enchanted,
Lights upon a beauty,
A beauty outside
Yet also, seemingly,
Familiar, inside ourselves.

Hope springs from recognition,
A kindly, kindred spirit,
Affirming what I take for me.
Gazing once more in that pool,
I see another, that is not me.
We gaze together,
Seeing glimmers of light,
Filtered by the shadowed trees.

What joy, we are not alone!
Other faces, familiar,
In the dark shadows seen.
Yet they come and go,
Momentary flickers of light,
Leaving us, in darkness,
Once more cold, alone.
Oh! Mortal pain, we groan.

Yet in that little, woodland pool
I glimpse some light,
Filtered softly, through the trees.
From whence that light?
Look up, look round,
Look where you do not see.
Above the sea, there sets the sun,
There, like birds, together run.

John Walford, dedicated to all those who struggle, alone,
September, 14, 2008

Saturday, September 13, 2008

"Samsara," by "rapid eye movement"

Samsara, originally uploaded by rapid eye movement.

Rapid eye movement has captured my eye, time and again.
This time with something as simple, yet sublime as two hands conjoined before a mellow wall, calling forth these words:

"Getting Along"

Mellow, yellow light,
Warming the wall,
One hand reaches up,
To grasp one reaching down,
What we all seek,
Assurance, to get along.
--JW, 09/13/08

More of "rapid eye movement's" photographs can be seen @

Dead Air's "The Flower Getaway"

The Flower Getaway, originally uploaded by Dead Air.

I have followed the work of Dead Air for now some time. Some of his work, using holga multiple exposures, creates a world part tangible, mostly dreamy, that I have come to richly enjoy. Here is but one among his most recent Holga works, inspiring these few lines:

"Ladder among the Brown-Eyed Susans"

I feel the scent of fresh air,
I sense the scent of Dead Air,
Holgaising auntie's flowers,
Thereby given visual powers.
And there amidst, a ladder hides,
Lifting us to more besides.
--JW, 09/13/09

More of Dead Air's work can be seen @

Ophelia's Rose, 2008

Ophelia's Rose, 2008, originally uploaded by johnwalford.

"Ophelia's Rose"

Oh! Melancholy Rose!
Your dried-out petals
Folded, blood red,
Your tender heart
Clasped in prayer.
Drowning in water
Yet still afloat;
Never to reach
Your full bloom.
Cut short your glory,
All too soon,
Leaving us to wonder why.
--JW, 09/13/08

Dedicated to Barbara Anderson, who knows this pain.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

After The Storm, III, 2008

After The Storm, III, 2008, originally uploaded by johnwalford.

September 11th seems like a fitting day for memorial. This lamentation may resonate with those who mourn for those lost that dark day, in 2001.

But it is written with other losses--more immediate to me, and to the Collegiate world I inhabit--and is dedicated to those we lost, to all who mourn them, and to all who yet struggle, for whom hope hangs but like a thread.

"Carried off by Storm"

Carried off by storm,
In a cruel whirlwind,
Three went down,
Almost four.

One far too many,
Two, three, four,
Have mercy!
We can't bear more.

Others cling on,
Like raindrops
After a storm,
Hanging there.

What will become?
Will gravity take its pull?
An evil gravity,
Stealing young lives.

Have mercy! Have mercy!
Our hearts are torn.
Uphold those who cling
Precarious and worn.

Grant faith, and hope,
That last strong bastion,
Of the hopeless heart.
Pour love into heavy, dry souls.

Pour love, refresh our hope,
Pour oil in our bare wounds.
Bind up our pained hearts,
Banish all that us destroys.

Three went down,
Almost four.
No more, no more
We do implore.

-John Walford, 09/11/08,
Dedicated to those we lost,
those who mourn, and to
those who yet struggle.

Matt Huggins, Blue Period Self-Portrait, 2008

"Matt's Maples and Magnolias"

Here sit I, and brood,
Hard core Yankee,
Heated Florida
My wretched lot,
Sugar maples,
In full sight

While waiting
For one outside
To bloom,
Great consolation!
Blooms always
The one inside --
My June.

Sugar maples
In Fall console,
But bleed and die,
Bare and cold
When winter
Warmth is needed.
No consolation bring.

A blooming magnolia,
Outside or in,
Joy brings, Fall,
Winter, Summer,
And Spring.
Hard core Yankee,
Married to the sun,
Flaming red,
Love’s just begun.

-- E. John Walford,
for Matt and June Huggins,
September 11, 2008

Caballero by Blynka (Barcelona)

Caballero by Blynka (Barcelona), originally uploaded by blynka.

"El Greco's High"

For years, I vainly searched
The grounds for El Greco's
Psychedelic palette
And trembling forms.
This simple fact,
Now I know.
Just this:
He was high
On coke!
--JW, 09/11/08

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Va_Ja, my sisters trail :(((, 2008

my sisters trail :(((, originally uploaded by Va_Ja.

I went to a class today, as a student, once again, to sit and learn, rather than to teach. It is a class about Poetry, Poetics, and the Arts, which Professor David Wright has generously allowed me to audit, so long as I behave! The stimulus of this first class, and the viewing of the work of Va-Ja this evening, pulled this from my excited mind, so here is another for Va_Ja, inspired by his work, "my sisters trail :((("

"Traces of Joy In the Dust"

It was once just a street,
Like any other street,
Until the bride came by,
With shouts of glee,
Smiling faces,
Pounding hearts,
And then it fell still,
And in the empty
There was
But rose petals,
Scattered on
A dusty road.
--JW, 09/02/08

Va_Ja, "at the end of loneliness, shine appear", 2008

A good Flickr friend, Robi Marinkovic, recently introduced me to his friend Va_Ja, whom, I discovered, like Robi, loves to gaze on water, leading me to reflect, especially in light of its title--"at the end of loneliness, shine appear"--as follows:

"Man, Light, and Water"

Light and water,
Each touch our soul.
The water, how it
dances and sparkles!
Light how it
Sparkles and dances!
Water and light,
Light and water.
Seeing these
Why should
A heart ache?
--JW, 09/02/08

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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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