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word paintings

My opening page or landing page or main page (take your pick) of my writing site focuses on how I see the words I write, whether they be poems or prose, fiction or history. I try to paint pictures with words. Today I happened to catch part of a talk sponsored by Le Gallerie degli Uffizi called Seeing like Dante: annotation and illustration in the Dante Valliciellano. This refers to a copy of the Commedia held in this very special library in Roma. Fortunately for me the talk was almost entirely in English and was therefore informative and interesting.

Particularly, the theme running through the talk was how poetry and painting merge to produce sensations – words to give birth to images and images to speak like poems. I copied two quotes on slides from this talk by Bill Sherman. As I commented in the comments box at the 30:52 mark: “This is similar to that first bite of a perfect butter tart, coating the tongue with taste buds sending creamy bursts of pleasure to my heart, mind and soul.”

I hope the quotes speak for themselves as they express my joy in words but obviously I am not new to this joy!


. . . whether time slowed down, speeded up, or stopped . . .

Verlyn Flieger “Faërie: Tolkien’s perilous land, p. 40 in Catherine Mcilwaine, ed. Tolkien Maker of Middle earth. Bodleian Library, University of oxford, 2018.

Verlyn Flieger writes about Tolkien’s struggles to mingle clock time with lived time. She doesn’t use those terms and seems unaware that for many of us there are two types of time even outside Tolkien’s concept of faërie. In the Lord of the Rings, Tolkien notes time is different in the Old Forest and Lorien, which Verlyn Flieger covers in a deep analysis in her essay contribution to the above volume.

Perhaps it is because I am old now, but the idea that there is a real time outside of that measured by clocks occurred to me many years ago. Sitting here now, getting these words down because clock time tells me I must sleep, I recall the long summers of childhood before I entered school. I entered a bit older than other kids because my birthday was in January. If I had turned 6 by December 31, I would have started school in September 1956. But because my birthday crossed that other timeline known as the year, I began in September 1957, age 6 and 3/4, rather than 5 3/4 years old. I had an extra summer of pre-clock time life as a result.

Seasons melded into each other and were timeless. Each lasted forever with a scent that belonged to each and produced a wonderful mixed perfume during the transitions. Now that I am old, some of that is returning, although working still forces clock time onto me. But this is less so than in my days of needing to be particular places when the clock so ordered. The difference is that real time now is speeded up and sometimes I try to enlist clock time to slow it down a bit. Back at age 6 when living by season time, each season lasted months or years or rather time, months, years had no meaning. Was it slowed down, speeded up or stopped? They were words voiced by adults that like much of adult speech flowed above and beyond with no real meaning.

Now I look back and feel the comfortable blanket of past warmth, cold, and change as life accelerated not according to the clock but in a poem of life.