Two years ago at this time, I was in Paris for a wonderful month. The weather was cold and dreary, but still it was wonderful. It plays in my memory , over and over. I may never get back there, but I still hold out the hope. And I still have the memories of each day.
Today I am thinking about my visit to the Musee d’Orsay.
I still need to write some poems about it. But in the meantime, here is one
from William Greenway:
In the Musée d’Orsay
About suffering, the Old Masters, they were never wrong.
—W. H. Auden
We flail our bodies along, legs
failing, arches falling, but we’ve never
seen such light, tint, and tone at once,
the sky gushing through the ribs of steel
to show each Cézanne and Van Gogh,
in a line along the wall, no darker than the real
windows to the France outside, Montmartre,
mount of martyrs on the hill,
bleached in sun like a cemetery,
the sky deep blue above the Sacre Coeur
and Seine with orange Magritte hot-air balloons
and puffy bruised-on-the-bottom clouds.
Raised a temple to the train, then
almost razed, the bones were resurrected,
the skeleton was saved and given
new transparent flesh.
Through the crystal ceiling and
high windows everywhere,
light falls past us to the ground
where sculptures writhe, held down
by stone that lends its form
to all their yearning.
We should stop before we kill ourselves,
and we have to pee again,
and it’s always in the basement,
but there’s also always one more room
of air and colour, and a greedy childish
clarity still intact inside
drags us to another sunlit day in Arles,
its wrung-out cypresses squirming up,
or the stony mount of gauzy St. Victoire,
till we are down, but still not out,
crawling towards another bright Monet
mirage of river, sea, and sky,
gasping, water, water as we die.