Art and Poetry

Here are three of my poems and the paintings that inspired them.
The third poem, "Aspen in the Wind," has been translated into
French and Spanish.  Both translations are posted here.

--Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Proserpine

(after a painting by D. G. Rossetti)

Her eyes are blue like her cloak,
deep ocean blue, her lips red
from forbidden seeds--the open slit
in the pomegranate between her fingers.

Her long neck invites,
her dark, wavy hair falls
like the ivy branch behind her.
Long fingers embrace the fruit, her wrist.

Above, milk & honey, the bee--
her mother Demeter and
all the roses, lilies, sheaves,
the light of consciousness, virginity.

--from The Age of the Mother
(Laughing Coyote, 1992,
Copyright © Clifton Snider)

--Leonardo da Vinci, Madonna and Child with St. Anne

(after a painting by Leonardo da Vinci)

The Virgin Mary sprawls
on her mother's lap.  Shoulders
almost bare, bare feet on
both of them.  They both wear

the Leonardo smile.  St. Anne grins
with knowledge bigger than the sky,
the rocky mountains, the spreading tree,
rooted in the rocks they sit on.

Mary, the baby Jesus she reaches for
& holds, the lamb whose ear he clutches,--
all are innocent, foolish, serene.
Mother Anne knows.  She decreed it all.

For now she grins, the merest
hint of a sneer.  She forgives,
protects, nourishes.  She has virgin-milk
to give: phallic power from her breast.

--from The Age of the Mother
(Laughing Coyote, 1992,
Copyright © Clifton Snider)

Aspen in the Wind

When I think of what you do
I think of a painting by Caillebotte:
three men scrape a hardwood floor,
their strong backs bowed, bent
like the wood, their arms too--
perpendicular or parallel, brown, potent,
symmetrical as Degas dancers,
fragile as they are firm,
autumn aspens in the wind:
they fill the eyes with gold,
the ears with vibrations.
The air oozes ripeness.

--Copyright © Clifton Snider, 1998 and 2012


--Gustave Caillebotte, The Floorscrapers

"Aspen in the Wind" is in my book of poems, The Alchemy of Opposites (St. John, KS: Chiron Review Press, 2000).  It is also reprinted as the dedication poem in my new book of poems, Aspens in the Wind, and it is included in my book, Moonman: New and Selected Poems.  It has been translated into French by Patrice Fauchier and into Spanish by Melvin Rosales.  Here are the translations:

Un Tremble dans le vent

Quand je pense à  ce que tu fais
Je pense à une peinture de Caillebotte
Trois hommes raclent un parterre de bois
Leurs dos arqués, penchés
Comme le bois, leurs bras aussi--
Perpendiculaires ou parallèles, bruns, puissants,
Symétriques comme les danseuses de Degas,
Fragiles autant que fermes,
Trembles d'automne dans le vent;
ils remplissent leurs yeux d'or,
Leurs oreilles de vibrations.
L'air suinte de maturité.

--Copyright © Clifton Snider and Patrice Fauchier, 1999 and 2012.

Temblón en el Viento

Cuando pienso en lo que haces
pienso en una pintura de Caillebotte:
tres hombres raspan un piso de madera,
sus espaldas fuertes se inclinó
como la madera, los brazos tambien--
perpendicular o paralelo, marrón potente,
simétrico como bailarinas de Degas,
frágil, ya que son firmes,
temblónes del otoño en el viento:
llenan los ojos de oro,
los oidos con las vibraciones.
El aire rezuma madurez.

--Copyright © Clifton Snider and Melvin Rosales, 2012

See Auden's "Musée des Beaux Arts" and the Brueghel painting that inspired it.

Go to Art and Poetry II for a poem on The Beguiling of Merlin, also in The Age of the Mother.
Go to Art and Poetry III for "Epithalamion," by Gerard Manley Hopkins, and The Bathers (1867), by Frederick Walker, two examples of nineteenth-century homoerotic poetry and art.
Go to my poem about Christina Rossetti.
Go to my poem about D. H. Lawrence.
For another poem in The Age of the Mother, go to New Age.

Go to Native Themes in Art and Poetry.
Go to The Shalako in Poetry and Art.
Go to a poem on a Zuni mountain lion fetish carving.
Go to Poetry and Criticism.
Go to a poem on The Cave of Niaux.
This poem has also been translated into French by M. Fauchier, and a different version in French may be found at Jura Speleo.

Go to a poem on The Cave of Pech-Merle.
Go to "St. Anthony's Church".

Go to a poem on  Le Mont Saint-Michel.
See my poem for Selena.
See my poem, Ode to the Banana Slug.

Read about my early books of poems before The Age of the Mother (1992), The Alchemy of Opposites (2000), and Aspens in the Wind.

Read about my novels, Wrestling with Angels: A Tale of Two BrothersLoud Whisper, and Bare Roots.

See also A Poet Against the War.

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Page last revised: 25 April 2016