"One ought, every day at least, to hear a little song, read a good poem, see a fine picture
and, if possible, speak a few reasonable words." ~Goethe

~ also, if possible, to dwell in "a house where all's accustomed, ceremonious." ~Yeats

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Arranging a Window

Window Over a Garden ~ by Marc Chagall, 1887 - 1985
Beloved Russian painter of both the quotidian and the fantastic

I have long admired Chagall's magical, unusual paintings, the flexible ballerinas and vividly colored violins; but I also love the usual - ness of his interiors, such as the above window scene. I am especially drawn to this sturdy, ordinary doll, dressed in her homespun clothes, perched in her toy chair perched on the table's edge, just waiting for some real life to come along and happen! The stationary kitchen table and chairs are not floating fantastically but quietly awaiting some everyday diners, such as the little person whose head appears right outside the window. The natural landscape beyond the room, the simple curtains and ceiling lamp are lovely but entirely real and expected.

I also like the way that this blue window goes perfectly with the following poem of spring by E. E. Cummings. The view is doubly mesmerizing because we get to look and stare -- just like the people in the poem -- into the room as well as out of the window to the woods beyond. If we "stare carefully" enough at the painting, we might see what Spring sees, some of everything: "a strange thing and a known thing . . . New and Old things."

We are used to the image of Spring bursting upon us, but in this poem Spring is so subtle, so careful:

Spring is like a perhaps hand
(which comes carefully
out of Nowhere)arranging
a window,into which people look(while
people stare
arranging and changing placing
carefully there a strange
thing and a known thing here)and

changing everything carefully

spring is like a perhaps
Hand in a window
(carefully to
and fro moving New and
Old things,while
people stare carefully
moving a perhaps
fraction of flower here placing
an inch of air there)and

without breaking anything.

by E. E. Cummings, 1894 - 1962
Popular, unconventional American poet

Window in the Country

" . . . arranging
a window,into which people look . . . "

[See the two faces, lower right corner?]

I've had several favorite Chagalls over the years, including for a time Le Grand Cirque, which hung in the Snite Museum of Art when I was a graduate student at Notre Dame. How lucky I was to be able to wander into the art museum for free at anytime and sit on a bench in front of this exuberant painting while grading freshman essays. Alas, since that time, Le Grand Cirque, as well as a Picasso and another very small painting that I loved called The Nights of Penelope, have all been relocated to other venues.

Le Grand Cirque

In those days of proximity to these priceless treasures, it never crossed my mind that any of them were not part of the permanent collection at Notre Dame; so it was with some disappointment that I entered the Snite last Spring with my friend Megan only to discover that all my favorites were missing. Yet another incident of being met at the door by that old disheartening maxim: "You can't go home again." Turns out these words also stand true for museums -- and coffee shops!

Here I am with my friend Lisa,
wearing my Notre Dame Chagall shirt in 1987!

If I had realized that the painting was not part of the permanent collection, I would have taken better care of the shirt as a keepsake, and bought a few extras for future use or resale! Unfortunately, I had only the one, now, sadly, worn completely out. I let my sons use it as a paint shirt. I guess Chagall would be cool with that!

Le Grand Cirque, detail

Next Fortnightly Post
Sunday, April 14th

Take a look at: "In Just Sweet Spontaneous Spring"
(my blog of shorter almost daily posts)


Previous Chagall Posts on this blog:
"Except Thou Bless Me"
"Dagmar's Birthday"

& on The Quotidian Kit:
"Jacob's Ladder"
"Except Thou Bless Me"
"Happy 448th to William Shakespeare"
"Chagall Four Seasons Mosaic"
"Life and Good"

Previous Cummings Posts on this blog:
"The Syntax of Love"
"Hominy, Horseradish, and Buffalo Bill"
"Rocky Road"

& on The Quotidian Kit
"The Syntax of Love"
"Little Tree ~ I Will Comfort You"
"Full Moon, Full Heart"
"The Trees Stand"

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