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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Saturday, November 13, 2010

My own "Longing, Pain, and Choices," 2010

"Longing, Pain, and Choices"

I was a young man, dreaming, and she a maiden,
But from different worlds we came. Our families
Spoke not to one another; would not, thought
They should not, for such was deemed improper.

The "proper" sort, well-bred, rich, I knew full well,
Smart in dress, empty heads, their ranks were swell.
I scoured these belles, but dull and empty, dry shells,
Never needed they to search, to strive, to think well.

What comes with ease, does, with ease displease.
When nothing can for granted be taken, or received,
The soul ripens, the mind grows strong, and, yes,
Fine character from such challenge is perceived.

Such treasure did I stumble on, in secret met,
Down in the woods, inside the hollow tree.
Two souls, for each other made, the glee!
And yet, my father said, she's not for me.

Which force the stronger be - love or family?
And where does loyalty owe its last allegiance?
How does a young man know to set his course?
When passion, instinct, with conformity clash?

Are our elders always wiser? Lived longer,
But by what star have they set their compass?
Are the young always so short-sighted?
Lived less, but what if they have seen the star?

That star, once shining in the East, wise men saw,
And followed to their destiny, with no regret.
And thus did I, have I, and will I, till I die,
And never once did know sustained regret.
--- JW, for Maria, thinking of August 1972.

(This grew out of memories of a work by Max Ernst, Vive l'amour (Le Pays Charmant), 1923, St Louis Art Mus, Miss. Ernst's painting depicts a couple enclosed by a tree-like structure, in a landscape, feint echoes of which underlie the image of this young couple.

With sincere thanks to Constance and Mercer S., for patiently modeling, also with their parents' consent.)

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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, 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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