Friday, July 08, 2005

Variations on a Theme

"...Not the human heart but
Brueghel turns the plowman away
for compositional reasons
and smooths the waters for a ship he made."

--William Matthews
"In Memory of W.H. Auden"

There's the poem they call ekphrastic, about another work of art, and there's the work that's epidemic, radiating out, infecting, well, affecting everyone and everything it touches, effecting a world. This is, what, I guess, is called intertextuality. How appropriate that Matthews points to the made aspect, the decisions made by the artist in the creation.

In these lines by Matthews are layered Williams' poem as well as Auden's. Another by Anne Sexton comes to mind (although that alludes as well to a poem by Yeats). In fact, here, thanks to Google, is a whole bibliography of poems that refer to Brueghal's painting--the painting, in turn refers back centuries, through Ovid's Metamorphosis, into the insubstantiality of myth--and then forward, too, to Joyce's fictional Daedalus and numerous other paintings, from those of Peter Paul Rubens to Matisse.

Add opera, ballet, film: The Man Who Fell to Earth....

I love thinking about these things. They knock me out.


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