Monday, June 16, 2014

Inscription for a Painting

Photo by Olga Butler Hopper.

This is another of my mother's slides from perhaps the late 1950s or early 1960s. It is from a batch labeled "Toluca Market" and is I think, a great street photo. There is a Toluca Market now near Burbank, California, where she could have been visiting relatives: aunts, uncles, cousins. But she also visited Mexico during these years. Since the picture was taken so many years ago, these children--if still living--would be elders by now. I thought at first that the older child was eating something (and not sharing) but when I enlarged it I could see that it looks like one of those Mexican clay whistles; this one is in the form of a goat with golden horns. I love the expressions on the children's faces and the details of their hands and clothing. I rejoice in the texture of the wall behind them. I can imagine someone basing a gorgeous painting on this image. I think it would work in either watercolor or oils.

I have been spending time again with the ancient poets of China, courtesy of my Kindle copy of The Anchor Book of Chinese Poetry from Ancient to Contemporary, edited by the Barnstones. This is not an expensive book, in print or on Kindle, and I can give it a strong recommendation. I have found in one longer poem the plot for a wonderful novel, but tonight I want to give another recommendation for a painting.

Inscription for a Painting

Late on a sunny day by a village.
Fresh peach blossoms by the water.
Where is the cowherd going?
On the ox's back a gull is sleeping.

Yuan Mei  (1716-1798)
One of the achievements of this Qing Dynasty writer was his direction of a school for women poets, for which he was criticized by many of his contemporaries. This information comes from the short biographies included in The Anchor Book of Chinese Poetry . . . These are full of delightful information, here is a little more: "Though he often strikes a philosophical note in his work, he is certainly one of the most personable of Chinese poets--not averse to humor, sympathetic with the poor, and bearing a strong resemblance to the T'ang poet Bai Juyi. His poems are direct, simple, often strikingly autobiographical."

I often find that a short time dipping into this book clears my mind wonderfully!

No comments:

Post a Comment