Sunday, May 1, 2011

My darling Branwell, happy first day of May. Thinking of you so much today, drove across the river to the homestead of a founding Hudson River School painter, Thomas Cole. I've never visited the place before - high time - today was a free open house, I had the car for the morning, so I pounced. It's a modest site, what was once a 110 acre estate reduced now to four, encircled in the last century by suburban housing development. I didn't know anything about Thomas Cole, but within minutes of orienting myself came to view him as a kindred spirit. I can't help but love someone who pens (as Cole did, in 1834) such words:
O Cedar Grove! when'er I think to part
From thine all peaceful shades my aching heart
Is like to his who leaves some blessed shore
A weeping exile ne'er to see it more.
Ah, my darling, how I feel about you...

I detected a correspondence, an affinity, between Thomas Cole and Emily Dickinson too, when I noted with delight, hung on a wall of a small upstairs chamber (in this modest house each domestic interior room - in sharp contrast to the expansive vista visible through original wave-glass - was intimate & close), a pair of framed compositions, pressed and dried flowers, each charmingly and artistically arranged - shades of Emily's extraordinary herbarium. The preserved compositions might have been plucked from her pages, or found a home in hers, as an addendum.

Thomas Cole had a highly religious, visionary, Blakeian sensibility, which surprised me (because I had been so ignorant of him). His are not "mere" bucolic or naturalistic depictions of breathtaking surrounding landscapes, or panoramically yet secularly epic ones (as I might describe his protege's, Frederic Edwin Church) but are heavily imbued with portent and mysticism, thrust and festooned with the idea of civilization's destiny and the dramatically divine...

Now there, he and Emily might part company. Or maybe not, she was capable of riding chariots into the clouds in her poetry... Theirs was not the prudish, purselipped, puritanical fundamentalism that is my sense of what swept America, in this region, in the 1830s - E.D. rejected that brand of religiosity (oddly, or perhaps not, unspiritual) and galloped on a divergently profound and eloquent grasp of the Divine -

My darling, is your tray table up, has a flight attendant served you? What are you reading, or listening to, or watching, I wonder. Holding your hand, kissing you.

So I enjoyed visiting the site, becoming acquainted with another wonderful personage, Thomas Cole (1801-1848), who has entered forcefully, with his utmost grace, into my imagination. His visionary, Blakeian cast reminded me very much of My Friend in Finland, and so I purchased a postcard image The Voyage of Life: Manhood (1840), that I plan to scribble a message on, scrounge a stamp, neatly print his address, and mail off to him.


You too remind me of this image. But I don't wish to overdo it. That's not my part in your story...


Loving you, touching your hand, very many kisses -

captain, oh my captain
in this funhouse ride through the shoals
we seem to have hit the

No comments:

Post a Comment