#AtoZChallenge Letter S

Continuing my theme of art inspiring literature:-

S is for Starry Night

starry-night-

Starry Night by Vincent Van Gogh

 

Van Gogh’s Starry Night is a painting which we all know and love.  Inevitably it has inspired verse.

The Starry Night by Anne Sexton

That does not keep me from having a terrible need of — shall I say the word — religion. Then I go out at night to paint the stars. –Vincent Van Gogh in a letter to his brother

The town does not exist

except where one black-haired tree slips

up like a drowned woman into the hot sky.

The town is silent. The night boils with eleven stars.

Oh starry starry night! This is how

I want to die.

 

It moves. They are all alive.

Even the moon bulges in its orange irons

to push children, like a god, from its eye.

The old unseen serpent swallows up the stars.

Oh starry starry night! This is how

I want to die:

 

into that rushing beast of the night,

sucked up by that great dragon, to split

from my life with no flag,

no belly,

no cry.

Anne Sexton‘s poem was written in 1961.  Ten years later Don McLean produced this beautiful song, Starry, Starry Night.

Lyrics

Starry, starry night.

Paint your palette blue and grey,

Look out on a summer’s day,

With eyes that know the darkness in my soul.

Shadows on the hills,

Sketch the trees and the daffodils,

Catch the breeze and the winter chills,

In colors on the snowy linen land. Now I understand what you tried to say to me

 

how you suffered for your sanity

how you tried to set them free.

They would not listen

they did not know how

 

perhaps they’ll listen now.

 

Don McLean

The song on Youtube

Link to the other A to Z Challengers

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#AtoZChallenge Letter Q

Qis

Ok so I’m being ironic today.  Q gave me problems.  I couldn’t think of an artist, poet or author who was appropriate for this letter and then I found this anarchic book.  Written by Mary Elting and Michael Folsom and beautifully illustrated by Jack Kent, I knew that it was just the book to buy for my grand-daughter.

So why is Q for duck?  It’s an alphabet guessing game so now it’s your turn to guess.

To help you, here are a couple of pages from the book.

D fo mole

digs

Mary Elting and Michael Folsom were mother and son and collaborated on several books for children.  Jack Kent was a well-known cartoonist and the popular illustrator of over 60 books for children.  The book has been in print for 25 years.

You can buy this book in the US here

and in the UK there

You can find a list of all the other A to Z Challengers

#AtoZChallenge Letter P

P  is for Pablo Picasso

No-one can deny the impact and influence of the art created by Pablo Picasso.  In the early 20th century, after three years of travels around Spain and France, Picasso entered his Blue period.

guitar

blue

After meeting Fernande Oliver, who became his mistress, his paintings were influenced by his happy relationship with her and she appears in several of them.  During this Rose period his subjects were harlequins and circus folk in shades of orange and pink.

circus

Pierrot_et_Arlequin

Picasso’s African period from 1907-1909 was a blend of stylised figures as in African sculpture with the painting style of post-impressionist Cezanne and Gauguin.  His masterpiece of this period was Les Demoiselles d’Avignon.

demoiselles

In 1910 he turned to more abstract art.  Working with George Braque he created cubism.

girl

Girl with a Mandolin  1910

In 1935, Pablo stopped painting for a while and began to write poetry.  Some of his poems were clearly the work of a visual artist.

Dawn

The dawn that day rose

Just as the mist of the night

Subsided like a foam descending

To reveal clear water ahead

The Bees in the hive stirred about

To retrieve more honey

It was on that day that I stared into the

Mirror of luck.

Hours passed by just

As flies whizzed under a scorchy sun

The foam above the crystal water rose again

The mist of the dusk rose high above me

shattering the mirror to grits

I plunged down from a mountain

Into the depths of dreariness

It was then that I acknowledged

What I’ve been through

It was then that I screamed

‘HEY, day! It was now that I crystallized

your power in the mirror of my mind’

And thence I sat in the chair of dreariness

Waiting for the gleams of gold and silver

To shine on once more upon the mirror.

Pablo Picasso

But most dealt strongly with his feelings.

Oranges from the south of Spain

  Oranges from the south of Spain

stars hang out at night

linen left to dry

 

red geraniums along the balconies

nodding, nodding

willing to agree to anything

just to keep their colour

 

a gang of kids running through the streets

faceless pranksters

the moon a plate held before each face

who am I? saying who am I

running through the streets saying who am I?

 

the shadows of the buildings

becoming cats that move away

the trees immobilized

left to stand alone in the dark

rubbing their bark from regret

like cicadas

 

oranges have more delicacy

softly falling, falling

in the groves

on the hills

softly eaten, eaten

by the earth

swallowed whole

as if by a snake

not earth

as if by millions

slithering in the groves at night

millions

stalking the oranges that fall softly

softly to the earth

 

hunting there in the groves

that form a ring around each town

You can find a list of all the other A to Z Challengers here

#AtoZChallenge Letter O

The theme of my challenge is poetry and books inspired by art and/or art inspired by literature.

letter-o-design      is for Ophelia   Ophelia_1894

Shakespeare’s tragic heroine was a favourite subject for the Pre-Raphaelite brotherhood.   J W Waterhouse painted her sitting on a log shortly before she drowned.  Below is an earlier painting of Ophelia from 1889 and his final more mature version in 1910.

JWW_Ophelia_1889

1910 John_William_WaterhouseWhen down her weedy trophies and herself
Fell in the weeping brook. Her clothes spread wide,
And, mermaid-like awhile they bore her up,
Which time she chanted snatches of old lauds,
As one incapable of her own distress
Or like a creature native and endued
Unto that element. But long it could not be
Till that her garments, heavy with their drink,
Pull’d the poor wretch from her melodious lay
To muddy death.

 

Arthur Hughes’ painting, below, is exhibited in the Toledo Museum of Art.

Arthur_Hughes_-_Ophelia

But probably the most famous is Ophelia lying drowned by John Everett Millais.

_Millais_-_Ophelia

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#AtoZChallenge Letter N

N   is for Not my Best Side by U A Fanthorpe

It is a poem about a painting of St George and the Dragon by Paulo Uccello

Saint_George_and_the_Dragon_by_Paolo_Uccello

Not my Best Side

Not my best side, I’m afraid.
The artist didn’t give me a chance to
Pose properly, and as you can see,
Poor chap, he had this obsession with
Triangles, so he left off two of my
Feet. I didn’t comment at the time
(What, after all, are two feet
To a monster?) but afterwards
I was sorry for the bad publicity.
Why, I said to myself, should my conqueror
Be so ostentatiously beardless, and ride
A horse with a deformed neck and square hoofs?
Why should my victim be so
Unattractive as to be inedible,
And why should she have me literally
On a string? I don’t mind dying
Ritually, since I always rise again,
But I should have liked a little more blood
To show they were taking me seriously.

It’s hard for a girl to be sure if
She wants to be rescued. I mean, I quite
Took to the dragon. It’s nice to be
Liked, if you know what I mean. He was
So nicely physical, with his claws
And lovely green skin, and that sexy tail,
And the way he looked at me,
He made me feel he was all ready to
Eat me. And any girl enjoys that.
So when this boy turned up, wearing machinery,
On a really dangerous horse, to be honest
I didn’t much fancy him. I mean,
What was he like underneath the hardware?
He might have acne, blackheads or even
Bad breath for all I could tell, but the dragon–
Well, you could see all his equipment
At a glance. Still, what could I do?
The dragon got himself beaten by the boy,
And a girl’s got to think of her future.

I have diplomas in Dragon
Management and Virgin Reclamation.
My horse is the latest model, with
Automatic transmission and built-in
Obsolescence. My spear is custom-built,
And my prototype armour
Still on the secret list. You can’t
Do better than me at the moment.
I’m qualified and equipped to the
Eyebrow. So why be difficult?
Don’t you want to be killed and/or rescued
In the most contemporary way? Don’t
You want to carry out the roles
That sociology and myth have designed for you?
Don’t you realize that, by being choosy,
You are endangering job prospects
In the spear- and horse-building industries?
What, in any case, does it matter what
You want? You’re in my way.

U A Fanthorpe

Born in 1929, Ursula Askham Fanthorpe was Head of English at Cheltenham Ladies’ College until her mid forties, when she left the teaching profession.  Working as a Receptionist in a hospital gave her time to submit poetry to magazines.  She never used her first name in print, since W H Auden and T S Eliot had succeeded with initials.  By the time she died in 2009 she had published 12 volumes of poetry.

Link to a list of the other A to Z Challengers

#AtoZChallenge Letter L

The theme of my challenge is poetry and books inspired by art and/or art inspired by literature.

Lis for the Lady and the Unicorn

The_Lady_and_the_unicorn_Desire

There are 6 tapestries exhibited in Paris called La Dame à la licorne, all of which show a noble lady with a lion and a unicorn.  In some there is also a monkey.  Five of them represent the five senses and the sixth, A mon seul désir, shown above, which may represent love or understanding.  The tapestries were woven, from wool and silk, in Flanders, from drawings made in Paris circa 1500.  They bear the arms of Jean Le Viste, a powerful nobleman in the court of King Charles VII.  The background to each tapestry is the mille-fleurs design.

Unicorn

In her book published in 2003, Tracy Chevalier gives a possible account of how the tapestries might have been woven and who the model for the virginal lady could be. Weaving her story into the warp and weft of the masterpiece she has created a compelling story.  On her website you can read more interesting facts about The Lady and the Unicorn.

You can find a list of all the other A to Z Challengers here.

 

#AtoZChallenge Letter K

Today’s challenge is a poem which inspired songwriters.

ivy-capital-letter-k  is for Kipling.

The Way Through the Woods is a poem from Rudyard Kipling’s book Rewards and Fairies.

The Way Through The Woods 

THEY shut the road through the woods
Seventy years ago.
Weather and rain have undone it again,
And now you would never know
There was once a road through the woods
Before they planted the trees.
It is underneath the coppice and heath,
And the thin anemones.
Only the keeper sees
That, where the ring-dove broods,
And the badgers roll at ease,
There was once a road through the woods.

Yet, if you enter the woods
Of a summer evening late,
When the night-air cools on the trout-ringed pools
Where the otter whistles his mate,
(They fear not men in the woods,
Because they see so few.)
You will hear the beat of a horse’s feet,
And the swish of a skirt in the dew,
Steadily cantering through
The misty solitudes,
As though they perfectly knew
The old lost road through the woods.
But there is no road through the woods.

Rudyard Kipling

This poem has inspired several songwriters:-

Peter Bellamy sang it on his second album of songs set to Kipling’s poems, Merlin’s Isle of Gramarye. He commented in the album’s sleeve notes:

The Way Through the Woods is a short descriptive song about a haunted wood, and is the companion piece to The Brookland Road. Both come from the supernatural story Marklake Witches. I thought the tune was original, but it has been pointed out that it is suspiciously similar to the Lancashire song Poverty Knock!

As the original album wasn’t available anymore, Peter Bellamy re-recorded this and other songs with the help of Nigel Schofield, probably in the mid-1980s. The new version was finally included on the Fellside compilation Mr Bellamy, Mr Kipling & the Tradition. Another recording from a 1986 session for Pennine Radio, Bradford, was included on Peter Bellamy’s Free Reed anthology Wake the Vaulted Echoes.

You can listen to it here

The Pet Shop Boys recorded a long and a short version of The Way Through the Woods, also using Kipling’s original words.  You can read more about the two versions

There are many interpretations on Youtube such as this  and we all have a picture in our minds of what it might look like.

a_path_through_the_wood

And Colin Dexter wrote a crime novel involving Inspector Morse

entitled The Way Through The Woods. book

Link to a list of other A to Z Challengers