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.
Wednesday, March 4, 2009
Awaiting Anastasis, and First Sign of Life, 2009 - A Lenten Meditation
These two works are intended as # 5 & 6 in a set of six diptychs on the last throws of winter, and nascent Spring. For the entire set, see on Flickr: http://flickr.com/photos/walford/sets/72157614659291654/
Awaiting Anastasis, and First Signs of Life:
A Lenten Meditation
Fats, fast-foods, fudge, and finger-foods,
For forty days, set aside, untouched.
Forty days each year, ritually held apart,
From Ash Wednesday to Easter morn.
Why act some so? What gain therein -
This so-called spiritual discipline?
If but some guilt assuage, it fruitless be,
What wisdom, growth is there to see?
What use our flesh to self-restrain?
Why not pleasure allow its reign?
Why not eat and drink full merrily.
Why ash and sackcloth, joy despoil?
Wandering and wondering, I came upon
A woodland pool, held fast in winter’s grip.
Eyes searching through the stubborn ice,
Saw there below, plants, seeds, and leaves.
Remnants from last Summer’s joy,
And seeds of Spring still trapped;
Held captive in the grip of ice,
Starved of air, of warmth, of life.
Yet here and there, what beauty,
What delight! A bubble of air,
Breaking from its icy cage.
Ploop, ploop, the silence broken.
One tiny drop of oxygen escapes,
Another now, and yet one more!
Here one slender wisp of green,
And there unfolds one fresh spore.
As my eyes did so explore, my mind
To Lenten rituals did return. The blush
Of Summer, the flames of Fall, set aside,
For the icy chill of Nature’s sackcloth.
Without this test, where fortitude
To run our race, and pass through death?
And so, with Christ, we steel ourselves,
Awaiting release, our Easter dawn.
---E. John Walford, Lent, 2009
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- John Walford
- 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.