So, without further ado, let’s get to today’s painting and poem, inspired by T. S. Eliot’s epic poem, The Wasteland.
To read this poem, click here (or scroll down near the bottom of the page)
A ROTTEN CORPSE
A man had died from loneliness
on a bridge.
He had wanted to jump
to end his suffering and shame.
But he had no legs,
was spent and penniless,
with only an obol for Charon,
that a passerby had tossed in his mouth
out of pity,
so he fell in a heap,
like a marionette
when its god cuts the strings,
… and no one took notice.
No one knew his name,
or from where he had come,
if he had loved his mother,
if his father had beat him like a dog,
if he had cried like a baby,
when his limbs were sawn off,
in some backwater country
for which he cared nothing—
if he had read the Bible
… and believed its promises.
Now narcissus springs
from his rotten corpse,
but no one sees or smells it.
The worried, morning crowd
crosses the bridge,
on the the tips of their noses
and pining for the meat
of tonight’s dinner table.
from THE WASTELAND
by T. S. Eliot
Under the brown fog of a winter dawn,
A crowd flowed over London Bridge, so many,
I had not thought death had undone so many.
Sighs, short and infrequent, were exhaled,
And each man fixed his eyes before his feet.
Flowed up the hill and down King William Street,
To where Saint Mary Woolnoth kept the hours
With a dead sound on the final stroke of nine.
There I saw one I knew, and stopped him, crying: “Stetson!
“You who were with me in the ships at Mylae!
“That corpse you planted last year in your garden,
“Has it begun to sprout? Will it bloom this year?
“Or has the sudden frost disturbed its bed?
“Oh keep the Dog far hence, that’s friend to men,
“Or with his nails he’ll dig it up again!
“You! hypocrite lecteur!—mon semblable,—mon frère!”
T. S. Eliot, 1888-1965. Born in St. Louis, Missouri
Link to Biography: https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poets/t-s-eliot
Link to Poem: https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/47311/the-waste-land
To understand that last line (“You! hypocrite lecteur!—mon semblable,—mon frère!”), it is good to know that it comes from Charles Baudelaire’s poem To The Reader from his collection Flowers of Evil. Here is a nice little synopsis of that last line in both poems: https://motionverse.wordpress.com/2010/04/01/%E2%80%9Cyou-hypocrite-lecteur-%E2%80%93-mon-semblable-mon-frere%E2%80%9D/
ABOUT THE POETRY PAINTING PROJECT
For the past couple of months I have been working on a huge new secret project with my painter, Addie Hirshten, of Studio Alchemy
We selected 30 poems (from the public domain) and each day for the next 30 days I will write a poem inspired by it, and Addie will paint a painting.
Expect an outpouring of creative energy! This is the sort of big project that artists live for … where we can say what we yearn to say. Big picture stuff. Heart wrenching stuff. I feel so inspired by the poetry we are working with AND seeing Addie’s process as well. Expect daily surprises with our posts. Expect passion. Expect love. Expect life.
Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working.Pablo Picasso
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