Friday, May 6, 2011

Francesco Guardi

we don't know
too much about you.
Your sister wed
Your father,
your two brothers,
and your sons
were painters, too.
In your own time
was acknowledged master
of the Venetian view.

stood on the Rialto,
looking at the houses
through a camera obscura.
He drew them in perspective
with a compass
and a ruler.
His highways of green water
and their reflective twin,
the skies,
were brushed dramatically.

That was not true of you,
Rows of buildings
on the lagoon
seemed to dance
before your eyes,
and their balcony railings
looked like the notes
to tunes
that flew away
from music paper.

Venice was made
on mushy land.
Laws changed,
and people died.
you must have dreamed
about the sky,
where order reigned.
Every faraway cloud
you painted
has stronger architecture
than any home
on any canal.

Another out-of-print book by M.B. Goffstein, dating back to 1981. It contains poetic biographies of five artists. In addition to Guardi – Rembrandt, Van Gogh, Bonnard and Nevelson.

The tiny Guardi painting (10 by 12 inches) reproduced with Goffstein's poem is called Architectural Fantasy and hangs in the Metropolitan Museum, New York.