Friday, April 18, 2008

Day 18--The Third of Several Manifestos in the Voices of the Dead

J. M. W. Turner on the Qualities and Causes of Things

O voi ch'avete l'intelletti sani,
mirate la dottrina che s'asconde
sotto il velame de li versi strani.
Inferno, IX, 11. 61-63

No one living will love you as you need
to be loved, and I am talking about
the sturdiest minds.

Blow into the gallery with a daub
of red lead and trowel or skip
it like a shilling on the gray sea.

Say nothing. They will write or call
and want to know why paint palpitates,
feels less than the world of trees and seas.

I tell everyone that light is color
and the world is a veil of poems.

I remind them to rub their pictures
with a very soft silk handkerchief
to remove the blue chill of new varnish.

I tell Ruskin everyday how disappointed
I was to discover that the Sun
was not God, that my forte and my fault,

the indistinct, belonged
to God and not to me.

He tells me that the Dean of St. Paul’s refused
to bury me in Carthage, wrapped in a rotted canvas,
in my own shroud of lead and light.

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