Wednesday, May 20, 2009

You are the daughter of the sea

This is a tiny watercolour inspired by a poem by Neruda - You are the Daughter of the Sea. It has no reality in it. It is based on no place or time. The shapes and colours simply found their own way onto the paper. I was simply the vehicle that got them there.

Pablo Neruda is my favourite poet. His words are ones that bring such strong images to me and it is as if I can see through his eyes, feel what he felt as he wrote some of them. I cannot pick a favourite poem, it would be impossible. I love each and every one of them.

On the Blue Shore of Silence: Poems of the Sea is a collection of twelve of Neruda's poems on the sea, produced in 2004 to celebrate the centennial of Neruda's birth. The book is bilingual in Spanish with English translations and features 15 paintings by California artist Mary Heebner. The paintings were inspired by Neruda's home on the cliffs overlooking the Pacific at Isla Negra.

The title of the collection comes from the poem Forget About Me/No Me Hagan Caso: Let us look for secret things somewhere in the world, on the blue shore of silence or where the storm has passed, rampaging like a train.

Here, Heeber describes her process: "I saturated large sheets of fibrous Japanese paper with puddles of bluish-gray pigment. Hidden shapes emerged from these little seas of color. I used paint and strands of tapa cloth to suggest elements of human form."

While the paintings make a nice compliment to the poems, one has a much tougher time engaging with them on their own. Their color is lush, and at times has a kind of penetrating darkness, all emblematic of the sea, but it seems a wobbly balance between suggestions of the human form and more abstract evocations of water.

XXXIV (You are the daughter of the sea)

by Pablo Neruda

You are the daughter of the sea, oregano's first cousin.
Swimmer, your body is pure as the water;
cook, your blood is quick as the soil.
Everything you do is full of flowers, rich with the earth.

Your eyes go out toward the water, and the waves rise;
your hands go out to the earth and the seeds swell;
you know the deep essence of water and the earth,
conjoined in you like a formula for clay.

Naiad: cut your body into turquoise pieces,
they will bloom resurrected in the kitchen.
This is how you become everything that lives.

And so at last, you sleep, in the circle of my arms
that push back the shadows so that you can rest--
vegetables, seaweed, herbs: the foam of your dreams.


laura said...

Your painting is so lovely, so atmospheric ... it feels warm and humid!
Thanks for the link to the Neruda book--I'd like to read more of his sea poems.

Jeanette said...

Neruda's work is timeless. The little painting just came out of nowhere after reading this poem.

Gayl Sharabi said...

Wonderful that you are able to combine your art with your favorite poet.

Gayl Sharabi said...
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