Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Victorian Looks

Francis Grant
Portrait of Daisy Grant (the artist's daughter)
oil on canvas
National Galleries of Scotland

Francis Grant
Daisy at the Piano
ca. 1860
National Galleries of Scotland

James Archer
A Woman Sewing
ca. 1850
National Galleries of Scotland

Helping My Daughter Move into Her First Apartment

This is all I am to her now:
a pair of legs in running shoes,

two arms strung with braided wire.
She heaves a carton sagging with CDs

at me and I accept it gladly, lifting
with my legs, not bending over,

raising each foot high enough
to clear the step. Fortunate to be

of any use to her at all,
I wrestle, stooped and single-handed,

with her mattress in the stairwell,
saying nothing as it pins me,

sweating, to the wall. Vacuum cleaner,
spiny cactus, five-pound sacks

of rice and lentils slumped
against my heart: up one flight

of stairs and then another,
down again with nothing in my arms.

– Sue Ellen Thompson (2006)

James Archer
Alone - A Man Sitting Before an Open Fireplace
ca. 1850
National Galleries of Scotland

James Archer
Death Mask of Sir Walter Scott
ca. 1850
National Galleries of Scotland

Thomas Annan
Portrait of Horatio McCulloch, Artist
ca. 1860
albumen print
National Galleries of Scotland

Jose Maria Mora
Portrait of an actress in the role of Ophelia
ca. 1890
albumen print
Rijksmuseum Amsterdam

The Second Sex

After the first sex, there is no other.
I stick my gender in a blender
and click send. Voilà!
Your new ex-girlfriend.

You cuckold me with your husband.
I move a box with Ludacris.
The captain turns on, we begin our descent.
Be gentle with me, I'm new at this.

I say the wrong thing. I have OCD.
My obsessive compulsions are disorderly.
I say the wrong thing, did I already say?
I drive my dominatrix away.

The coyote drives her in a false-bottomed van.
He drops her in the desert. The bluffs are tan.
She'll get a job at Chili's picking up butts.
I feel ya, Ophelia, I say to my nuts.
And there is pansies. That's for thoughts.

– Michael Robbins (2013)

Fratelli Alinari
Carte-de-visite portrait of unknown woman
ca. 1865
National Galleries of Scotland

William Brodie
Bust of Hugh Miller, Geologist and Author
National Galleries of Scotland

Thomas Woolner
Bust of Henry Christy, Collector and Donor
British Museum

George Howard, 9th Earl of Carlisle
Marietta - Roma
ca. 1865-66
British Museum

Charles Samuel Keene
Lady in Victorian Costume
before 1891
National Galleries of Scotland

William Dyce
St Catherine
ca. 1840
oil on panel
National Galleries of Scotland

The Poet and His Poems


The poem is this:
a nuance of sound
delicately operating
upon a cataract of sense.

Vague.   What a stupid
image.   Who operates?
And who is operated
on?   How can a nuance

operate on anything?
It is all in
the sound.   A song.
Seldom a song.   It should

be a song – made of
particulars, wasps,
a gentian – something
immediate, open

scissors, a lady's
eyes – the particulars
of a song waking
upon a bed of sound.


Stiff jointed poets
or the wobble
headed who chase
vague images and think –

because they feel
lovely movements
upon the instruments
of their hearts –

that they are gifted
forget the
exchange, how much
is paid and how little

when you count it
in your hand you
get for it later in
the market.   It's

a constant mystery
no less in the
writing of imaginative
lines than in love.

– William Carlos Williams (1939)

John Faed
Study for Queen Margaret Tudor's Defiance of the Scottish Parliament
before 1861
oil on panel
National Galleries of Scotland

James Guthrie
In the Orchard
oil on canvas
National Galleries of Scotland

– poems from the archives of Poetry (Chicago)