Thursday, May 13, 2010

the islandmountainglacier I love

Sitting on the porch steps in the sun and have just had a small piece of the delicious lemon cake. Reading Passion of Emily Dickinson. There's a connection with the Hudson River School artist, Frederic Church. Judith Farr argues that ED had very likely seen a reproduced image of Church's epic panorama, The Heart of the Andes, which caused a national sensation when it was exhibited in New York City April-May 1859. The painting depicts, in the upper left, the highest peak in Ecuador, an inactive volcano called Chimborazo. Dickinson alludes to it in a poem (#453, c. 1862):
Love - thou art high -
I cannot climb thee -
But, were it Two -
Who knows but we -
Taking turns - at the Chimborazo -
Ducal - at last - stand up by thee -

Love - thou art deep -
I cannot cross thee -
But, were there Two -
Instead of One -
Rower, and Yacht - some sovreign Summer -
Who knows - but we'd reach the Sun?

Love - thou art Vailed -
A few - behold thee -
Smile - and alter - and prattle - and die -
Bliss - were an Oddity - without thee -
Nicknamed by God -
Eternity -
Dickinson didn't travel to New York to see the painting, though Samuel Bowles (ED's beloved "Master," according to Farr) may have seen some of Church's works on a visit to the city in November 1859.

To come full circle, I myself saw the wall-size painting when it was exhibited at the Met (in 1993) as part of an exposition of American art and culture. All I remember now of that interesting if overstuffed show (it had an inevitably miscellaneous nature, as I recall) is Heart of the Andes, and - opposite end of the telescope - a handful of tiny Civil War era daguerrotypes, whose images of people long since deceased were haunting, clear, and immediate.

And of course, Frederic Church built his magnificent home in the Sky here, in Hudson, at Olana.

Ah, I should look up the name of the Icelandic volcano which is causing so much havoc these days. I might encode it in a poetic line for you - how I don't wish volcanos to melt glaciers - save for one. Eyjafjallajökull, darling.

No comments:

Post a Comment