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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Monday, November 30, 2009

For once, one of my own: Fungi, Feeding off the Fallen, Nov 2009

"Soon Ripe, Soon Rotten"

Severed from the Sap of Life,
How fast the rot sets in.
From timbers once firm,
Does emerge foul resin.
--JW, November 30, 2009

Flickr's "Rongzoni" replied, Nov 30:

From the rot rises
A new brief life
Fed by what has fallen
Back to it's earth
To it's chance to breed again

Which made me reflect and realize:

I am but a fungus,
Feeding on a tree,
Without which,
Little to see.

And so it continues, as she replies:

Rojha said...
This roundish hat
So stuck to me
I wish delightfully to put
To the place in the sky
Where once my vanquished
Leaf-elevator gaily flaunted
Its earth-bound girth!


Saturday, November 28, 2009

bartvandamme of Flickr's "The Sheltering Sky" (Rijnhaven, Rotterdam, The Netherlands)

The Sheltering Sky, originally uploaded by bartvandamme.

"Pregnant Skies"

Still waters, still sky,
Buildings, bridge,
boats and crane,
Over which rolls
Water-laden cloud -
For Rotterdam,
No second bombing.
--JW, Nov 28, 2009, with gratitude to bartvandamme for this magisterial cloudscape, in the best Dutch tradition.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

paho47, on Flickr's, "The Last Flower of the Summer"

The Last Flower of the Summer, originally uploaded by paho47.

"Hold Your Smile, Yet a While"

Farewell, golden autumn,
We let you go - reluctantly.
Hearts are everywhere
Heavy now, at the prospect,
of chill, snow, and darkness,
Filling long days, and cold nights.
Fair flower, hold on yet a while,
We cannot, will not let you go.
Hold the light in your yet-green
Leaves, stay open and smiling,
With your little purple face;
Then, good-bye, until next Spring.
--JW, for paho47, Nov 25, 2009.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Flickr's Rongzoni's "Dreaming into the wind"

Dreaming into the wind, originally uploaded by Rongzoni.

"Golden Grasses"
(Ring Mountain, Tiburon, California)

It was there for you, and you for it,
When the light was low in the sky.
Grasses bent, under your foot,
As they always did before,
Giving out their own aroma,
As you picked your way
Through lichen-clad rocks,
That have been that way,
For years, waiting to reassure,
That some things do not change.
--JW, for Helen, whose writings inspired me to try writing -and happy you could revisit your beloved mountain, and remind us, once again, of the beauty of sky, breeze, grasses, wind-swept bushes, stone, water, and light., Nov 21, 2009.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Flickr's Heniusia's "Held in silence ..."

"Blue Iris"

Mellow, yellow lichen
Crawled across wall,
Warming stone gray,
To await the day,
When it could serve
As foil, to the queen
of flowers - Blue Iris.
She marks woman's tomb,
To remind Isis, to come,
And waft her beyond the grave.
Royal flower of France,
To the moon goddess Hera,
A sacred flower. But here,
Before this yellowed wall,
A blaze of blue, so strong,
To Heniusia does belong.
--JW, Nov 19, 2009.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Flickr's Algo's photograph: "100-year Hand"

100 year hand, originally uploaded by algo.

"A Hand - A History"

It was so long ago, I do not recall,
And nor does she, long gone.
But this hand of mine once did grip
Its pink and pudgy flesh around
My Mamma's finger; and I looked
Up into her eyes, and wondered,
What will my Mamma feed me,
When bath me, when lay me
Down to rest, shake my rattle, sleep.

Mamma, now long gone, her eyes
But a feint memory, lined by age,
Her fingers, that touched so tenderly,
They let me go, and so did I grow.
Over so many years, so much I saw,
Before my hands lost their pulp.
Taught skin, gradually did sag,
Showing my bones more than I care,
Needs rest them now upon my purse.

Like the rings in the trunk of a tree,
These wrinkles of mine, they tell
A story, of fat years, and lean,
Laughter, joy, pain, and sorrow,
The motor car, a swirling satellite.
In war, famine, again war, and peace,
These hands have cut onions, sewed
Well-worn socks, turned the newspaper,
And opened my birthday cards,
One hundred times.

These hands of mine, that speak,
Algo saw, glowing in light,
And shared what few might see,
Hands, ripened by history.
--JW, for esteemed Algo, Nov 9, 2009.

Dear friend, thank you for your long, thoughtful note. Your new glasses stole nothing from your inner vision, ever sensitive to what speaks, to what nourishes the soul. Flickrites--like me--are fickle, each thirsty for some token of recognition, in the give and take of comments, favs, and invites.

None of that ephemera matters one jot, for rarely does something take root and endure beyond the moment of recognition of the work of another. I, for one, have gone to comment on the image of another, only to discover I already commented on it, two months ago. How mercilessly we forget.

But in conceiving the images that each makes which resonate deeply--acknowledged, commented on, or not--there should be our focus -- for these stay long in the memory. For recognition, give no thought, but concentrate only on birthing cogent, poetic, visible life to what you see that moves you, for so presented, it will move others too. The gift shared, that's all that really matters here, on Flickr.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Flickr's incomparable Algo, and his "Autumn Chiltern view"

Autumn Chiltern view, originally uploaded by algo.

"Solace for the Weary Soul"

How to account for the great allure of this "Autumn Chiltern view?" - viewed on Flickr over 28,000 times (by Nov 8, 2009), for more than 1,000 such people marked as a favorite of theirs! Remarkable, indeed! So, how to account therefore?

A luminous, framed vista, luminously framed, the frame shaped like a transparent scarecrow, with outstretched arms and skirt, colored by the sun, and effects of declining sap in Autumn leaves. A fading beauty, is it nostalgia that tugs at us? Or the soft light on the meadows beyond, so delicately lit that only fairies could walk there, and beyond, a glowing haze.

Or is it what is not there? No trains, cars, buses, power lines and pylons, tractors, dirt, noise, work, towns, cities, rush, speed and crowds. No soul present, but the poetry-finding eye of Algo, and in his poetry, an echo of all our daily striving, aches, losses, fears, and longings - longings for a life of imagined Chiltern calm, an aching for arcadia - or is it Eden?

--PS: I deliberately came here--to Algo's photostream--for peace, on a Sunday evening, and as sure as I anticipated, I found it in his delectable, incomparable landscapes; and now, refreshed, I can again face the new week that lies ahead--the other side of sleep. Thank you, esteemed friend from the Chilterns. I knew I could count on you tonight. As sure as sure, you delivered needed solace, quietness, and reassurance that yes, while there is yet beauty in the world, we can find courage to press on along life's wearing road.


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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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