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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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:

"Inheritance"
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

Pericomart of Flickr's "La mano 2 de 2 - The Hand 2 of 2"

"Stretch Out"

Stretch out your hand,
Stretch out your body,
Turn your eyes to the water,
As the boat passes bye.
Three chimneys, an arch,
And light rippling on water,
Remain, to caress your eyes,
Rest, soak it in, for tomorrow,
We must all toil, once again.
--JW, for pericomart, Nov 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.

bartvandamme of Flickr's "Disintegrating with Dignity" - or whatever others may call it


Think Up a Title Contest!!, originally uploaded by bartvandamme.

"Disintegrating with Dignity"

Wall once proudly painted
by husky Rotterdamers,
Filled with beer and herring,
Now flakes, peels, neglected,
No nurse to add make up,
As the old lady declines.
In front of her, space once
Tendered, rife with weed,
No groundsman cuts away.
Now even weed has seen its day.
But to the eye, alert, a beauty,
In disintegrating gracefully,
Saved by the camera,
To feed our eyes and minds.
--JW, for bartvandamme, Nov 28, 2009.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Jungle Mama, on Flickr's "A drying Almond Leaf... gold and silver patches highlight still green vein patterns"

"Silver and gold"

Stop and ponder,
Turning silver,
In our golden years.
--JW, for jungle mama, Nov 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.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

From Flickr's Lensk - Paolo Avalle, "Hertford-sky1-cat-small"


hertford-sky1-cat-small, originally uploaded by Lensk.

"Ominous Hangs The Threat"

Fox--stealthy creature of the night,
Steals through the long grasses,
Under the shadow of threatening cloud,
Slyly giving a slipping glimpse
To Paolo's yet more stealthy camera.

Man and fox, engaged in outfoxing
Each other, both miss a greater danger,
Spies and soldiers, waiting to drop,
From one silent, stealthy, air balloon,
Before clearing sky exposes all.
--JW, for Paolo Avalle, Nov 15, 2009.

On further reflection on this image:

Actually, this image comes close to the experience of depression, through which I go from time to time, although there is more sense of "hope" here, in the light on the horizon.

However, when depressed, as in this image, where we look towards that light, there hangs there this "ominous" air balloon, the one thing we see in the light we have, and, like depression, it seems that it just won't go away - although, with time, it always does. One just has to ride it out, like waiting for this great balloon to pass.

Yes, Paolo, this is a powerful, and ominous image. Thank you for sharing it with me. I think it is one of the strongest you have made - if not, THE strongest.

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.


--JW

Flickr's jitendraapi's "Light is knowledge, light is life, light is light"

"Sentinel in the Shadows"

Steady flame, sentinel,
Flickering bright and strong,
Illumines petals, gathered,
To pay homage to her flame.
Peace, hope, joy, exuding.
--JW, for jitendraapi, Nov. 8, 2009.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Flickr's Pericomart's "Granada 1"


Granada 1, originally uploaded by pericomart.

"The Stairs of Charles V"

Light, lustrous, its warm caress
Along smooth sandstone glides,
Chiseled to flawless precision
By the hand of the ancient Moor.
Or was it, in truth, his Spanish
Master, augmenting the work
Of the Moor? No more can I tell
Each so finely crafted stone,
Here curving so gently, an arched
Pilaster hinted at -- not more,
A classic baluster, gently turned,
And a flight of stairs, drawn up
By light so lustrous, the ascent
No strain, for opening onto the
Alhambra, all is gain.

--JW, for pericomart, in honor
of light on stone,
so beautifully handled,
November 1, 2009.

Flickr's Pericomart's Euskadi 1


Euskadi 1, originally uploaded by pericomart.

"A Path below the Trees"

Trees so old, the seasons
Oft did see wax and wane.
Lichen long clung to limbs,
Still happy to bear leaves,
Canopy for man, to wander,
And wonder, why am I here?
_ JW, for pericomart,
November 1, 2009

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John Walford

John Walford
Not All That Meets The Eye

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About Me

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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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