Tuesday, November 29, 2011

To An American Painter Departing For Europe, by William Cullen Bryant

"Thine eys shall see the light of distant skies...
A living image of our own bright land,
Such as upon thy glorious canvass lies..." -W.C. Bryant

I wish that I could tell you all that I know, all that I see, all that happens to me from day to day.
"Lone lakes- savannahs where the bison roves..." -W.C. Bryant

All the times I fail, all the times I am cheated, all the times that life breaks with such beauty like the world cracking in splendor before me.
"Rocks rich with summer garlands - solemn streams..." -W.C. Bryant

The things I see in the night. The touch of the world upon me.
"Skies, where the desert eagle wheels and screams..." -W.C. Bryant

The soft echo I hear, reverberating, the secret it whispers to me in the dark.
"Spring bloom and autumn blaze of boundless groves..." -W.C. Bryant

I would tell you these things, if I had the mind to, the light to cast the right shadows for you to run from. I would. But all my truest confidants have departed, slipped away through the twines of time.
"Fair scenes shall gree thee where thou goest...fair..." -W.C. Bryant

There is this poem I teach, this young painter named Thomas Cole, a scrawler of landscapes, leaves to wander through Europe to paint and love and live. His friend, the anthology dog-earred thrice named William Cullen Bryant composes a sonnet for him, back when words between friends matterered, sonnet... telling to remain true to his American vision of nature.
"But different... everywhere the trace of men... paths, homes, graves, ruins from the lowest glen..." -W.C. Bryant

I've always liked that... an American vision. While the world doubts and decieves, cheats and mares, blames and pokes fun, there are some of us who are true.
"Gaze upon them, till the tears shall dim thy sight..." -W.C. Bryant

It's not an American vision any more than it is an Argentine or Ethiopian, but that the soul who one encounters remains true, that's what I met tonight.
"But keep that earlier, wilder image bright." -W.C. Bryant

So to my new friend, fragile and sweet, who sees the world so differently than I... stay true. If so, no matter how far you are from home, you are blessed to never be alone.

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