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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Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Martin Beek, Selected Drawings, 2010

Drawings 2010 Header, originally uploaded by Martin Beek.

"Trees, Lanes, and Fencing Posts"

Without technology, life I can hardly now imagine.
There's a succulent delight in colored, digital imaging!
Yet twenty-four drawings, in a distinct human hand,
Responding to landscape, under eye's command -
Trees, lanes, and fences, so easily passed bye,
In such drawings, calm solace, consolation does yet lie.

--JW, in honor of Martin Beek's poetic eye and hand,
Christmas 2010, and wishing you sustained effort through
2011, and long beyond.

Flickr's "paho47"s copy of an approx. 100-year-old photo: "Happy Strangers!"

Happy Strangers!, originally uploaded by paho47.

"Tough Girls"
There once was a time, when the girls were tough,
Out in the snow, some sleeveless, used to life rough.
No hot, running water, nor warm, central heating,
These girls could survive a cold snow-storm beating.
--JW, for paho47, Christmas, 2010.
With best wishes for 2011!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

My own "The Wandering Hieronymite, II, 2010"

"The Wandering Hieronymite"

There once was a Hieronymite, wandering the world,
Who started out decadent, although he’d been told
That prosperity awaited, if strictly diligent at school.
Having tried such a regimen, preferred to play the fool.
But the pleasures of folly no lasting peace did him afford,
So, in search of letters and learning he wandered abroad.
Long, hard study, mindful struggles did for folly atone,
And soon the young Hieronymite was no longer alone.

In course of such studies, did one Hieronymus come to light,
Whose strange visions of evil deeds did his imagination ignite.
The mind of that Tree-Man was seeped in weird, religious lore,
In which men swam in bird’s eggs, eating strawberries galore.
While one scrawny traveler, his lone journey undertook,
Sandro’s entranced Mercury, the wanderer’s plight forsook.
Old St. Jerome did indeed have his ardent penance to do,
But not without teaching that we, too, must turn old into new.

-- John Walford, December 19, 2010

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Nativity - A Fresh Look

John Walford, The Nativity, 2010 (Inspired and adapted from Gerard van Honthorst’s Nativity, 1622 (Wallraf_Richartz Museum, Koln), with thanks to each photographer for elements that contribute to this piece, for use of which all efforts have been made to obtain permission. My thanks also to Immanuel Presbyterian Church, whose 2010 Christmas lessons and carols service caused me to reflect on the significance of the ox and ass.

"The Nativity - A Fresh Look"

No misplaced marvel, incalculable wonder,
By science unexplained, and unexplainable!
A virgin birth, the boys in high school know,
Comes not ever into being, never so conceived.
A trick of language? A wicked rumor spread?
Or a matter of divine breaking of His own rules?

Who daily the world spins on its axis, made it so,
Each night, day follows, He deemed it thus to go.
This one child’s mother Virgin pure stayed she,
So we know, her son both flesh and divinity to be.
Of saccharine, smiling, nativity greetings cards
So soured am I! They lie, for surely it was not so!

Only the unknown, the outcast to a stable sent,
For richer folks, for inn space, their money spent.
Poor shepherds, out in the fields, tattered clothes,
Poor protection from the chill, were open to learn,
To heed wondrous words, that angels did disclose;
And what those richer folks did not dream or know,
Was put in the mind of an ass and ox to show.

--- John Walford, Christmas 2010, from a heart
overflowing with wonder and deep gratitude,
and wishing all family and friends likewise.
With our shared affection, John & Maria W.

Friday, December 3, 2010

My own "Purple Orchids by Fireplace," Dec 2010

"Orchid Hierarchy"

How is it to be an orchid?
Earth's goodness, sky's light
Stored in strong and waxy leaves.
Proud stems lifting heads high,
And blooming out along the stem.
First to open, has some pride,
Until a second it overshadows.
Soon a third, and a fourth, more,
As the first already shrivels,
Leaving the last as first in sight.

First to catch the sunlight; first
To attract the humming bee;
First to draw the human eye,
Out front, first before the lens
That focuses on its succulent
Chamber of sensuous delights!
Last, now first! Sun-drenched,
Color drenched, saturated,
And drenched in attention -
Just like the last-born child.

-- JW, on the delight of orchids,
December 3, 2010

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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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