Monthly Archives: July 2021

À Dieu

We watch, he and I,
from a hot, sultry garret,
the bright snapping flashes
of the blue and red slashes
lining that silent, riotous rue.

I am not a fool, he whispers,
but a madman, painting what I feel.
And if I’ve taken more than I’ve given
that’s poor enough payment
but it is all that I am
and what I know of love.

The Rue Montorgueil in Paris, Celebration of 30 June 1878 by Claude Monet is one of several Impressionistic paintings that fueled my love for that school of art in particular and painting in general.

Luckily, my wife and I were able to see the original the last time we were in Paris. There are many great museums in that city, especially for viewing Monet’s oeuvre. One is the Monet family legacy museum, the Marmottan-Monet house; another is the delightful Orangerie Museum, a not-as-well-known spot that I highly recommend. But the best spot, of course, is the incredible Musée d’Orsay—where this particular painting is housed—and which may arguably be the greatest museum in the world.

I should point out that English-speaking people generally translate ‘adieu’ (the more common, modern spelling) as simply ‘goodbye’ or ‘farewell.’ In French, it is much more nuanced. It means, literally, ‘to God’ and has a much greater sense of finalism and formality to it, and betokens death or complete separation, often as a result of staunch honor or sacrifice. In other words, ‘My fate is with God; it is in the Hands of the Almighty when next we meet again.’

Thank you for reading À Dieu. I sincerely hope you have enjoyed it and I humbly appreciate your visiting the Book of Pain. As always, I look forward to your comments.

The image is an online, freely available reproduction of the original. To see my photography blog, please visit the Book of Bokeh.

john

Poem and notes © John Etheridge; all rights reserved. The poem and accompanying notes are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Work 3.0 Unported License. This applies to all original written work found on this site unless noted otherwise. The attribution claimed is © John Etheridge,  https://bookofpain.wordpress.com. The image is not licensed for use in any way without the expressed consent of its creator.

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The math of love

We are more alive in the invisible than the visible.
There, our pluses and minuses give more and take less
than in the physical, where divisions alone strive to define us.
Between every two points, we covenant, there is another:
To bite ’em, so proceed ad infinitum.

So let us do that and bite ’em, the possibilities I mean:
hearts can be broken, yes, but in all our joys
our futures are coequal with our past.

So where does that put us? On some rising hope, I suppose,
back in the invisible from whence we started
perfectly, long, long ago. Did you hear that?
Say yes.

Jonathan Swift (1667-1745) was an Anglo-Irish satirist, essayist, political essayist, poet and cleric. His most famous work is Gulliver’s Travels. The quote above is taken from Poetry, a Rhapsody:

So, naturalists observe, a flea
Has smaller fleas that on him prey;
And these have smaller still to bite ’em;
And so proceed ad infinitum.

Not only is the verse fun and wonderfully satirical, but it comes from a particular perspective, a time when the art of science was awakening and when things that we take for granted today (like bacteria) were first being discovered. Also, note the 400 year pronunciation shift: in Swift’s world the word “flea” would have been pronounced “flay” and rhymed with “prey.”

In mathematics, the concept of infinity occurs often. For example, mathematics holds that there is no smallest negative number and no largest positive number. Moreover, between any two numbers there is always another. This compares to, and parallels with, the Knowledge of God: infinitely broad, yet infinitely deep.

This thought, in turn, got me to thinking of the concept of love, and, well, as you can see, so proceed ad infinitum.

Thank you for reading The math of love. I sincerely hope you have enjoyed it and I humbly appreciate your visiting the Book of Pain. As always, I look forward to your comments.

The photograph was taken in Putnam, Connecticut. To see my photography blog, please visit the Book of Bokeh.

john

Photograph, poem, and notes © John Etheridge; all rights reserved. The poem and accompanying notes are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Work 3.0 Unported License. This applies to all original written work found on this site unless noted otherwise. The attribution claimed is © John Etheridge,  https://bookofpain.wordpress.com. The image is not licensed for use in any way without the expressed consent of its creator.

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Oh-so-softly

I am guilty—who do I blame?
I am old—who do I entreat?
I am torn—who do I thank?

There is, I suspect, in the shell of every need
the pith of an answer
and the crown of a desire rooted deep in pure release.
Not lost (not yet) but slipping,
just-oh-so-softly away.
Aye, slipping.

There comes an age when you are ‘older.’ Not ’25 is older than 20’ older but ‘old.’ You recognize that the majority of your life is behind you and that certainly the most dynamic, energizing part has slipped into the past.

This realization puts you in a reflective mood, looking back on your life. What matters is who you have been, and are, and the people you affected and who affected you. But it matters only in a reflective way, as a mirror reflects the world. The moment that is, is, and for right now, that is all you have. Not the past, not the future, but only the here and now.

Thank you for reading Oh-so-softly. I sincerely hope you have enjoyed it and I humbly appreciate your visiting the Book of Pain. As always, I look forward to your comments.

The photograph was taken at Quaddick Park in Connecticut. To see my photography blog, please visit the Book of Bokeh.

john

Photograph, poem, and notes © John Etheridge; all rights reserved. The poem and accompanying notes are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Work 3.0 Unported License. This applies to all original written work found on this site unless noted otherwise. The attribution claimed is © John Etheridge,  https://bookofpain.wordpress.com. The image is not licensed for use in any way without the expressed consent of its creator.

3 Comments

Filed under Poetry