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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Saturday, February 21, 2009

Royal Deflation or The Case of the Peptic Prince

Sent to me by a friend, with source unidentified, I thought the following would provide some "light relief" from some of the heavy themes usually tackled here:

Royal Deflation or The Case of the Peptic Prince

The Queen, she is a prudish one,
But Anne drops all solemnity;
Charles is not at all amused,
While Harry his laughter can't contain.
What happened then? Did
Philip, an empty house prefer,
Than a foul tenant retain?
The man, well, who can blame?
Is this then a hoot,
Or a toot,
Or a royal salute?

Let he who is without gas, toot the loudest protest!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Ahmad Kavousian's grandson, Pedrom...


Pedrom..., originally uploaded by * Ahmad Kavousian *.

I have long admired the photographic work of Ahmad Kavousian, as posted on Flickr--especially his intimate and sensitive portraits of street people, and many of his landscapes and seashores (indeed, other works of his feature in my blog). With respect to this moving work of his grandson, I know something of the feelings of a grandfather photographing a beloved grandson, and, from those feelings, wrote this for Ahmad:

"Pedrom"

My Pedrom, he left today,
I keep him still,
In this fine way,
Those soft, full cheeks,
Un-scarred by life,
His strong dark hair,
That frames his head;
Those arching brows,
That frame his eyes,
Those eyes, oh! those eyes,
They gaze at me,
Keep gazing, and I see
And I feel the presence,
Of my little Pedrom.

--To Ahmad, from one doting grandfather to another,
with my warmest greetings, and well-wishing for your family,
John Walford, February 13, 2009.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

No Quarter


No Quarter
Originally uploaded by dou_ble_you
Flickr's dou_ble_you, that wily, fertile mind, prods mine with his video, "No Quarter", and I cry out:

"Life, a gamble? - I give nor take no quarter"
>
One minute, twenty-nine seconds of video, more engaging than eighty-nine photographs. The eye is captivated, the ears alert, and the mind sent into a whirl. I walk with you through through streets, full of people rushing somewhere, perhaps nowhere of note, perhaps just not to be where they were; we find ourselves dancing, gloved, bedecked, and elegant, dancing to music we see but do not hear; and thereafter encounter the horror of violent death, and the tragedy of chance survival. The dogs, they got us, not just nipped our heels, they wiped us out. Dice we may seem like on the roulette wheel of life, some rising, some falling, one loses both arms to steel driven too fast, the other their mind to Alsheimers, and we know not why. Life a gamble? What's there to gain?--nothing we can keep, besides character. What's there to lose? --everything ephemeral, even our breath? Have we no control over our destiny, other than the choices we think we make? Do those choices matter? Like character, perhaps they are all we are left with. But perhaps they matter more than we could ever have guessed. Perhaps! You touched me with eighty-nine seconds of video, you took a gamble, and it spoke. I give no quarter! It was worth it!
--John Walford, Feb 4, 2009

The sun – the cloud – and me

Flickr's Maurice Flower/ Hans's "The sun - the cloud - and me"

What of that sun, that cloud? Me?

The sun had been waiting for him all day, until he thought to retreat to his cabin. Taking one last look, before going inside, he beheld the clouds out there, dancing for him their final evening waltz, waiting to draw the curtains on another day.

But there was one more task for the sun yet that day. Casting its muted beams through the vapory film of moist sea air, it was calling out to Hans, "Yes, the power of the imagination makes us infinite. But the wonder of The Infinite is that He looks down and communes with us, with each of us singly, even if it be as we glance out from our cabin door, and catch sight of that watching eye, slowly slipping into the infinite expanse of the water--or so it seems--fire swallowed whole by water."
--JW, Feb 4, 2009.

Echouement


Echouement, originally uploaded by PPL 2A.

How could the eye and the mind not be arrested by the poignant juxtaposition seen in Flickr's "PPL_2A's photograph, "Echouement," which called forth these lines from me:

"Echouement" - Run aground

Once a grove of vibrant trees
Felled to deck a sleek, long boat,
Crafted lovingly, launched proudly.
Once she lilted over the waves,
With a grace and ease
That delighted the eye,
And brought joy,
To the sailor's heart.
Now this wood-planked shell
--twice dead, rusted iron,
Once pristine, wood--
Once sustained by Spring sap,
Lies inert, useless,
Unloved, abandoned,
Like a jilted lover,
Wasting away,
In full light of day,
Not even quite alone.
Passing it daily,
The inhabitants
Of the near-by
Apartments--
Comfortable in their
Bourgeois boxes--
They never stop to think,
Their concrete box,
It too will crumble,
And slip into the sea,
Unnoticed,
While another plane
Flies by, overhead,
On its way nowhere,
In total disregard.
--JW, Feb 4, 2009.

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John Walford

John Walford
Not All That Meets The Eye

About Me

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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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