June 15, 2014
As I received this image (in B&W), together with a fine poem by W. Whitman, I could not but try imagining how this world must have looked in colors. I spent a quiet moment painting it according to my own wishes. WHEN I HEARD THE LEARN’D ASTRONOMER
WHEN I heard the learn’d astronomer;
When the proofs, the figures, were ranged in columns before me;
When I was shown the charts and the diagrams,
to add, divide, and measure them;
When I, sitting, heard the astronomer,
where he lectured with much applause in the lecture-room,
How soon, unaccountable, I became tired and sick;
Till rising and gliding out, I wander’d off by myself,
In the mystical moist night-air, and from time to time,
Look’d up in perfect silence at the stars.
” Walt Whitman, from Leaves of Grass, 1867
Have you ever stopped and looked up at the sky on a clear night ? Have you ever taken time to search for stars, the brilliant ones and the more dimly-lit ones ? Have you ever felt dizzy while looking up, your head pulled back and you neck sore from observing the vastness of the sky ? Dizzy, amazed and feeling so small under the celestial vault. We obviously need to be grateful to science and scientists to research and explain all kinds of phenomenons. Don’t we also need taking time to look behind the charts, figures and diagrams ?
Here is something I liked and felt like sharing with you ? 😉 http://io9.com/5973932/walt-whitmans-when-i-heard-the-learnd-astronomer-in-comic-form
February 1, 2011
Some days are more eventful than others. A little while ago, as I opened the frosted mailbox in the garden, a long and white envelope with foreign stamps was waiting for me. It contained a dear friend’s letter together with a copy of this drawing.
“There’s part of the sun in an apple,
There’s part of the moon in a rose,
There’s part of the flaming Pleiades
In every leaf that grows”
by Augustus Bamburger
On the same day but later in the afternoon I enjoyed reading a great blog that another friend, Gerry, had just started posting : “The Gently Used Ideas Store” !
This particular post drew my attention to the correspondence between the drawing and Gerry’s theme in this post : mythology. The mention of the Pleiades in the poem was both strange and welcome.
In French, we often use the word “pleiade” to describe a group of renowned persons, like “a pleiade of artists or writers, etc…”
Gerry’s prompt about mythology made me reflect on who the Pleiades really were. So, I looked on my bookshelves for a particular book that was just waiting to be read… Have you ever heard that a book does not exist or live until someone reads it ? It seems so true to me.
I finally found this book, here it is : a “Small Mythology Dictionary”, very nicely illustrated too.
The Pleiades were the seven daughters of Atlas and Pleione, daughter of Ocean and Tethys. They were Artemis´companions. One day, as the hunter Orion pursued them and their mother, they implored the gods to save them. They were transformed into doves and then placed in the sky as a constellation. In fact, the Pleiades are only a cluster of six stars in the sky because one of the stars hides itself… Some pretend it is Merope; she was the only one of the seven sisters whose lover was mortal.
The names of the Pleiades were Alcyone, Celaneo, Electre, Maya, Merope, Sterope, Taygete.
In my small mythology dictionary, there was no mention of the Pleiades but a page was dedicated to Atlas, their powerful father, son of a Titan, one of those gods who ruled the world before the Olympian gods. Atlas and the Titans were overcome by Zeus and the Olympian gods during a terrible battle. The Pleiades´father was condemned to carry forever the heavens on his shoulders and all the weight of the world.
This is the story of a Winter day that started in a freezing and foggy morning. It ended in the sky, a dark but starry sky where I looked for a constellation of seven sisters pursued by Orion…
Thanks to Gerry and the inspiration I found in her daysprompt 🙂
March 17, 2010
A special ancient edition of James Joyce’s “Dubliners”, smooth cloth cover, as green as the island of the “Forty shades of green”. Joyce’s famous book is translated in French “Gens de Dublin” and contains some lovely lithographies by Charles Bardet. I thought it would be an opportunity to wish a ” Happy St Patrick’s Day to all Irish people and to those Irish at heart.
January 13, 2009
A poem to meditate on by the late French composer and singer, Jacques Brel
“I wish you never ending dreams and a wild desire to make some of them come true.
I wish you to love what is to be loved and forget all that has to be forgotten.
I wish you silences.
I wish you birds’ songs when you wake, children’s laughter.
I wish you to resist sinking.
I wish you to stand up to indifference and negative virtues of these days.
I wish you especially to stay you.”
Jacques Brel, 1929-1978