Poem of the Day:


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Upon Julia’s Clothes

Whenas in silks my Julia goes,
Then, then (methinks) how sweetly flows
That liquefaction of her clothes.

Next, when I cast mine eyes, and see
That brave vibration each way free,
O how that glittering taketh me!

-Robert Herrick ( August 1591–buried 15 October 1674 )


The poet, Robert Herrick, was certainly not alone in recognizing the fascination… the seduction… to be found in the sensuous details of fashion… lace and tulle and velvet and satin. Painters such as Rubens, Titian, Veronese, Velazquez, Rembrandt, Boucher, and Ingres understood that nudity depends on contrast for maximum impact. They recognized that an abundance of fur… often a surrogate for that which could not be represented… or a bracelet clasping a plump arm, would enhance the suggestion of bare flesh.
One who can paint satin so well that you can feel the smoothness is to be envied.

Indeed... and yet the works are by a rather forgotten painter: Charles Joseph Frédéric Soulacroix ( 1858–1933 ).
David, you made me go look up some of his poetry and I found this familiar one that I always assumed was written much later in time.

To the Virgins, to Make Much of Time

By Robert Herrick

Gather ye rose-buds while ye may,
Old Time is still a-flying;
And this same flower that smiles today
Tomorrow will be dying.

The glorious lamp of heaven, the sun,
The higher he’s a-getting,
The sooner will his race be run,
And nearer he’s to setting.

That age is best which is the first,
When youth and blood are warmer;
But being spent, the worse, and worst
Times still succeed the former.

Then be not coy, but use your time,
And while ye may, go marry;
For having lost but once your prime,
You may forever tarry.
Whose sleeves: American Tagasode
-Ed Roberson


your shape is in the robe worn or not
a roominess of you folds into its cloth

a sachet in the drawer from which the air
of the place was taken fixed of you’re here

the smell has temperature and space
the wider warmth that buttered popcorn tastes

and not you it folds into a time’s clot
a sachet in a drawer personage of its own still you


I have to wear a bus to Rikers Island with
opaque tears up to my neck to get in to see you

in your two inch thick glass robe I have to imagine
you naked under to place my hand saying

I miss you against you where I can’t touch and love
has to break across insulating space still warm

I have to stand my day in the folding up put away
given you as time with you. I smell I need you on my clothes


I smell gunfire folded in to every turn
the city’s track laps into its hands on race

then files away not guilty I smell the drawers
of the records they keep folded away from stands taken

away distance doesn’t dissipate
the space between the bullet holes in you in me folded

you are the map I have to sleep with in my pocket to be sure
I know how to get out of here


your shape is in the robe the sharp creases
of its fold when you wore it blocked into

the counterpoint around you that even
folded stood you out to me that they couldn’t

see you that one day they would shoot
always folded into the robe you wore

gun or not phone mistaken or empty handed innocent
or not there is this fold on itself we sleep in

in the fabric
of this country’s culture

hb_29.100.493-4_av1 (2).jpg

The word tagasode translates from the Japanese as ‘whose sleeves.’ The phrase comes from an elegy collected in the Kokinshū, an Imperial Japanese anthology compiled by four poets including Ki no Tsurayuki and first published circa 905 CE. The elegy, addressed to the poet’s dead wife upon smelling her perfume in the kimono folded beside their bed, opens with these lines: ‘whose sleeves have brushed past / or would it be this plum tree blossoming here at home.’

In Japanese culture, tagasode has come to name not just a genre of erotic love poetry but also a form of still life composed of folded kimono patterns, reflecting the idea that personal objects contain a person’s spirit even in the person’s absence and/or suggesting the clothing temporarily discarded as a couple makes love. Voiced as a question, "whose sleeves?" suggests a husband or wife entering their abode and seeing a stranger's discarded clothes.

Born in 1939 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Ed Roberson earned his BA at the University of Pittsburgh and later completed graduate work at Goddard College. His first collection of poetry was released in 1970. He is the author of many poetry collections, including Voices Cast Out to Talk Us In , Just In: Word of Navigational Change: New and Selected Work , Atmosphere Conditions, City Eclogue, The New Wing of the Labyrinth, and To See the Earth Before the End of the World . Roberson's poetry has also appeared in numerous anthologies.

C.D. Wright has described Roberson's work as "lyric poetry of meticulous design and lasting emotional significance," comparing its musical qualities to the work of saxophonist Steve Lacy, jazz pianist Thelonious Monk, and composer Johann Sebastian Bach. Poet and critic Reginald Gibbons, in his review of The New Wing of the Labyrinth, celebrates Roberson as a "master of a hauntingly meditative rhythm of thought and perception."

Recipient of the Jackson Poetry Prize and the Stephen Henderson Critics Award for Achievement in Literature, Roberson has also won an LA Times Book Award, the 2008 Shelley Memorial Award from The Poetry Society of America, the 1998 National Poetry Series Award, and the Lila Wallace-Reader's Digest Writers' Award. In 2017, he received the Academy of American Poets Fellowship, which recognizes distinguished poetic achievement.

Formerly a professor of literature and creative writing at Rutgers University, Roberson now resides in Chicago, where he has taught at the University of Chicago and Columbia College Chicago. He is currently Artist-in-Residence at Northwestern University.

Whose Sleeves: American Tasagode (2019) builds upon the elegiac nature of the ancient Japanese poem musing takes the form of the poet/narrator mourning the tragic death of his wife by gunshot... by police?... the perpetrator(s) found "not guilty". I stumbled upon this poem this morning looking for an example of the ancient Japanese Tasagode to go along with the paintings that I have admired for so long... but this poem strikes me as far more relevant to what is happening in our nation here and now. :cry:
Sno; there were many similar poems at the time in which the poet attempts to verbally seduce a young lady:

Christopher Marlowe, the peer and mentor to a certain William Shakespeare composed the famous Passionate Shepherd to His Love:

Come live with me and be my love,
And we will all the pleasures prove
That valleys, groves, hills, and fields,
Woods, or steepy mountain yields.

And we will sit upon the rocks,
Seeing the shepherds feed their flocks,
By shallow rivers to whose falls
Melodious birds sing madrigals.

And I will make thee beds of roses
And a thousand fragrant posies,
A cap of flowers, and a kirtle
Embroidered all with leaves of myrtle;

A gown made of the finest wool
Which from our pretty lambs we pull;
Fair lined slippers for the cold,
With buckles of the purest gold;

A belt of straw and ivy buds,
With coral clasps and amber studs:
And if these pleasures may thee move,
Come live with me, and be my love.

The shepherds' swains shall dance and sing
For thy delight each May morning:
If these delights thy mind may move,
Then live with me and be my love.

Then there's the famous sonnet When You Are Old by the great French Renaissance poet, Pierre Ronsard:

When you are old, at evening candle-lit,
beside the fire bending to your wool,
read out my verse and murmur "Ronsard writ
this praise for me when I was beautiful."

And not a maid but at the sound of it,
though nodding at the stitch on broidered stool,
will start awake, and bless love's benefit,
whose long fidelities bring Time to school.

I shall be thin and ghost beneath the earth,
by myrtle-shade in quiet after pain,
but you, a crone will crouch beside the hearth,

mourning my love and all your proud disdain.
And what comes to-morrow who can say?
Live, pluck the roses of the world to-day.

Quand vous serez bien vieille, au soir, à la chandelle,
Assise auprès du feu, dévidant et filant,
Direz, chantant mes vers, en vous émerveillant :
Ronsard me célébrait du temps que j’étais belle.

Lors, vous n’aurez servante oyant telle nouvelle,
Déjà sous le labeur à demi sommeillant,
Qui au bruit de mon nom ne s’aille réveillant,
Bénissant votre nom de louange immortelle.

Je serai sous la terre et fantôme sans os :
Par les ombres myrteux je prendrai mon repos :
Vous serez au foyer une vieille accroupie,

Regrettant mon amour et votre fier dédain.
Vivez, si m’en croyez, n’attendez à demain :
Cueillez dès aujourd’hui les roses de la vie.

Ronsard's poem was given a modern variation by the British poet, William Butler Yeats:

When You Are Old

When you are old and grey and full of sleep,
And, nodding by the fire, take down this book,
And slowly read, and dream of the soft look
Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep.

How many loved your moments of glad grace
And loved your beauty with love false or true,
But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you,
And loved the sorrows of your changing face.

And bending down beside the glowing bars,
Murmur, a little sadly, how Love fled
And paced upon the mountain overhead
And hid his face amid a crowd of stars.

The theme of all of these is that of the young poet attempting to win the love of a young lady by essentially telling her, "You won't be young and beautiful forever, honey. We should get busy right now." 😆

Perhaps a shallow theme for poetry... or art. But I remember one wag writing some time ago that the whole of Shakespeare's sonnets could be reduced to "when I think of you, I feel blue." :unsure: A reminder that it is the "How" that matters more than the "What" in Art. ;)
Love the painting by the way, Sno. ❤ The Pre-Raphaelite's are one of my artistic "guilty pleasures" along with the Rococo. Especially as someone who is a great admirer of Modernism, I shouldn't love these sweet, beautiful, and sentimental paintings... but I do. :oops:

Poem of the Day: Richard Wilbur- Piazza di Spagna, Early Morning:



-G.M. Benzoni

I can’t forget
How she stood at the top of that long marble stair
Amazed, and then with a sleepy pirouette
Went dancing slowly down to the fountain-quieted square;

Nothing upon her face
But some impersonal loneliness,- not then a girl
But as it were a reverie of the place,
A called-for falling glide and whirl;

As when a leaf, petal, or thin chip
Is drawn to the falls of a pool and, circling a moment above it,
Rides on over the lip-
Perfectly beautiful, perfectly ignorant of it.

Yes... I love the poem and the sculpture... and one of these days I need to see the sculpture in person. It's in the art museum in Detroit... maybe two and a half or three hours from Cleveland.
Poem of the Day: Charles Baudelaire- Metamorphoses of the Vampire


-Edvard Munch: Madonna (Vampyre)


The woman, meanwhile, writhing like a snake
across hot coals, and hiking up her breasts
over her corset stays, began to speak
as if her mouth had steeped each word in musk:
“My lips are smooth, and with them I know how
to smother conscience somewhere in these sheets.
I make the old men laugh like little boys,
and on my triumphant bosom all tears dry.

Look at me naked, and I will replace
sun and moon and every star in the sky.
So apt am I, dear scholar, in my lore,
that once I fold a man in these fatal arms,
or forfeit to his teeth my breasts which are
timid and teasing, tender and tyrannous,
upon these cushions, swooning with delight
the impotent angels would be damned for me.

When she had sucked the marrow from my bones,
and I leaned toward her listlessly
to return her loving kisses, all I saw
was a kind of slimy wineskin brimming with pus!
I closed my eyes in a spasm of cold fear,
and when I opened them to the light of day,
beside me, instead of that potent mannequin
who seemed to have drunk so deeply of my blood,
there trembled the wreckage of a skeleton
which grated with the cry of a weathervane
or a rusty signboard hanging from a pole
battered by the wind on winter nights.

-Charles Baudelaire, translated by Richard Howard



Nadar ( Gaspard-Félix Tournachon): Portrait of Charles Baudelaire

Les Métamorphoses du vampire

La femme cependant, de sa bouche de fraise,
En se tordant ainsi qu'un serpent sur la braise,
Et pétrissant ses seins sur le fer de son busc,
Laissait couler ces mots tout imprégnés de musc:
— «Moi, j'ai la lèvre humide, et je sais la science
De perdre au fond d'un lit l'antique conscience.
Je sèche tous les pleurs sur mes seins triomphants,
Et fais rire les vieux du rire des enfants.
Je remplace, pour qui me voit nue et sans voiles,
La lune, le soleil, le ciel et les étoiles!
Je suis, mon cher savant, si docte aux voluptés,
Lorsque j'étouffe un homme en mes bras redoutés,
Ou lorsque j'abandonne aux morsures mon buste,
Timide et libertine, et fragile et robuste,
Que sur ces matelas qui se pâment d'émoi,
Les anges impuissants se damneraient pour moi!»

Quand elle eut de mes os sucé toute la moelle,
Et que languissamment je me tournai vers elle
Pour lui rendre un baiser d'amour, je ne vis plus
Qu'une outre aux flancs gluants, toute pleine de pus!
Je fermai les deux yeux, dans ma froide épouvante,
Et quand je les rouvris à la clarté vivante,
À mes côtés, au lieu du mannequin puissant
Qui semblait avoir fait provision de sang,
Tremblaient confusément des débris de squelette,
Qui d'eux-mêmes rendaient le cri d'une girouette
Ou d'une enseigne, au bout d'une tringle de fer,
Que balance le vent pendant les nuits d'hiver.

Charles Baudelaire


Along with Dante's Comedia, and the works of William Blake, Charles Baudelaire was one of the poets who initially turned me onto poetry. Arguably the greatest of all French poets, Baudelaire was a central figure in the l'art pour l'art movement. The term was coined by Baudelaire's mentor, the poet Theophile Gautier to whom Baudelaire dedicated his volume of Les Fleurs du mal (The Flowers of Evil). Along with Whitman's Leaves of Grass, this book was one of the most influential collections or poetry of the era. I carried Les Fleurs du mal
with me... in the brilliant Richard Howard translation seen above... for most of my years in art school. Contrary to the notion that l'art pour l'art means "art about art"... l'art pour l'art was a rejection of the idea of valuing or judging art based upon external or non-art elements. Where artists in the past might find their paintings or novels or poems judged based upon religion, morality, politics, etc... l'art pour l'art argued that the work of art should only be judged based upon the abstract elements of the given art form. This did not negate the fact that the audience may like or dislike a work based upon such external non-art elements... including his or her own experiences, biases, beliefs, etc... Baudelaire was a master "Formalist" writing in the most perfect poetic forms and structures: sonnet, ballad, rhyme, meter... and often pushing these to their limits. As the same time, he employed the most perfect and elegant of French poetic forms and structures to explore many of the darker and taboo sides of urban life. (At this point in time, the vast populace was abandoning the rural landscapes and moving to the great cities: London, Vienna, and Paris) Sex & death, love & lust, mortality, the urban landscape, ghouls & vampires were all grist for Baudelaire's poetry... which on more than one occasion, crossed the boundaries of what was acceptable to the censors of the time.
Wanderer's Nightsong I - Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Thou that from the heavens art,
Every pain and sorrow stillest,
And the doubly wretched heart
Doubly with refreshment fillest,
I am weary with contending!
Why this rapture and unrest?
Peace descending
Come, ah, come into my breast!



Wanderer's Nightsong

O'er all the hilltops
Is quiet now,
In all the treetops
Hearest thou
Hardly a breath;
The birds are asleep in the trees:
Wait, soon like these
Thou too shalt rest.


Wanderer's Nightsong II
("Über allen Gipfeln") is often considered the perhaps most perfect lyric in the German language. For some time I had the original German version of this poem committed to memory. It is one of the few works in German that I can still read and understand in the original... and yes, the German version is far more exquisite than any English translation I have read... although those by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, presented here, are quite fine.

Both of these poems were set to music by Franz Schubert.

Franz Schubert: Wanderer's Nightsong II
This one just seems particularly appropriate right now.

Winold Reiss
I, Too
Langston Hughes - 1902-1967
I, too, sing America.
I am the darker brother.
They send me to eat in the kitchen
When company comes,
But I laugh,
And eat well,
And grow strong.
I'll be at the table
When company comes.
Nobody'll dare
Say to me,
“Eat in the kitchen,”
They'll see how beautiful I am
And be ashamed—
I, too, am America.
How is that a poem?!

There's no "thou's" or "o'ers," no foreign language version, no academic treatise telling you what to think about it, and it doesn't even rhyme!

Oh god, sorry, I thought I was logged in to Creative Snark. This is completely different. My bad. Gotta keep my websites straight...
What?! No "rolling eyes" reply? Come to thing of it, they need one of those on Facebook as well. :rolleyes:

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