Friday, January 20, 2012

White Widow

Arthur Hacker The Girl in White



White Widow



Light stained amber, carmine, jade
sapphire, citron and amethyst
in drifts and beams makes a searchlight prism
that gilds over faded faces framed in faith
with a radiance banked;
in the far corner banished by
the clerestory where she sits 
in a phosphorescent white dress
with her black sin clutched tight
there is only blanked shadow 
of no color
no color at all.

January 2012






Process notes: Horribly hard prompt for me, (!) but I think this may come close. I'm not big on the Imagist movement, though it was an important one in that it began to free poetry to explore other more spontaneous forms of expression, and supported the emergence of vers libre. I've also been trying to work up a poem to go with that very odd moody painting by Hacker for a long time, so this serves a double purpose.




By Arthur Hacker [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

24 comments:

  1. her black sin clutched tight, dressed in white...ha dont we all...smiles...nicely done hedge...i really had no clue with this one...even went online and studied a bit and still lost...

    ReplyDelete
  2. so the black sin...did she kill her husband...? you wove some riddles into this..

    ReplyDelete
  3. This is terrific. A lovely poem. I know what you mean about imagism; I actually really admire it, but it is hard for me to control my tongue as it were. You've added a bit extra here (sin) but of course, that's a layer of meaning too.

    The poem may actually work very well in an Asian context. Indian widows wear white, you know, in places like Benares (Varanasi) and Brindaban (I may be spelling last long, but it is Krishna's birthplace I believe and a big place for widows.) Of course, they (the widows in white) were often left homeless, bad luck, no support, etc. Especially terrible for child widows. The light and shadow would also work well in Subcontinental context. K.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Hi, if you are interested, here's is the link to a wonderful photographer Faizal Sheikh, who did a project Moksha on Indian widows. The city I was thinking of is also spelled Vrindavan.

    http://www.fazalsheikh.org/projects/moksha/description.php

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Karin, for reading, your thoughtful comment, and the link. India is indeed a whole nother ball game for widows, for women. I was aiming for 19th century western christian images--but some things are reflected in the shadows of other things,as you say.

      Delete
  5. Yeah, come on, it's a nice day for a white wedding...er, widow. :-P

    This reminds me of s story I heard about. Back in the 19th century, there were two children, a brother and a sister, whose mother was dying of some illness, and their father was having an affair with their nanny. The mother died and the father married the nanny. In time, they had their own child, a little boy, and the two older children got the dirty end of everything, while both parents doted on their half brother.

    So, one morning, little step brother could not be found. At last, he was discovered, murdered and stuffed into the muck in the outhouse. There was a trial, but the sister was acquitted; no one wanted to believe that a female child could commit such a horrendous and cruel crime.

    Eventually, she joined an order, and after many years, she confessed that, in fact, she had done the deed. Watch out for those nuns.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This is the one I was thinking of-Constance Kent--but it differs from your tale in several areas:

      http://www.met.police.uk/history/constance.htm

      This has got the affair with the nanny, the young boy killed , the acquital followed by a later confession, but not two children in on it, and no nuns--maybe not the same one.

      Delete
    2. Yes, that's the one. I do tend to get it crossed in some of the details with a very similar crime that happened in Louisiana around the same time. That one involved voodoo as well, you'd love it. But it had the same elements... a second wife, a forgotten child from an earlier marriage, etc.

      Delete
  6. Love her "banked radiance" - what a perfect description. And the black sin. Cool one, kiddo.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Ooh, quite eerie. Leaves you wondering what her "black sin" was, although I do have a few good guesses! Love the series of consonances in the fourth line!

    ReplyDelete
  8. Well, for not being big on imagism, you certainly nailed it, hedge. That painting is just haunting and your interpretation as well. I also like how you explained the role imagism had in the development of free vers. Thanks for adding that.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Victoria, and glad if I got close enough for government work, as we used to say on the City crew. ;-)

      Delete
  9. Banished by the clerestory where she sits - using that wonderful architectural word of churches - gathering more meaning, not allowed in the nave or the quire, but like a scarlet woman, seated outside and still in view of the parishoners who scorn her and paint her in shame - perhaps her husband died from his own hand? Maybe he found her making love with another...
    This imagery attempt is provocative, mysterious and very well executed. Reads like a nineteenth century story. Wonderful!

    ReplyDelete
  10. I love "with her black sin clutched tight" I think this is excellent. I haven't been able to come up with anything for this prompt. Who knew that I needed to have a point?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I don't think you're really supposed to. I read several besides the one Victoria put up, and if they had any point besides gushing a lot of descriptive vocabulary, I couldn't get it. ;-) But my brain just doesn't work that way, when, indeed, it works at all. Thanks for reading, MZ

      Delete
  11. Enough color around her to color her. She seems to remain, like stone, impenetrable to these shades. An interesting portrait. :)

    ReplyDelete
  12. Nice alliteration here: "that gilds over faded faces framed in faith." And "black sin clutched tight" is also a great line. I like that you used such intense and specific color words to describe the light but just went with a simple "black" to describe the darkness/sin.

    ReplyDelete
  13. I like this! Some awesome lines in it and they all come together nicely!

    http://charleslmashburn.wordpress.com/2012/01/19/black-words/

    ReplyDelete
  14. So..I don't agree that you don't get Imagism. I actually think of Stevens as an Imagist. True he went further and deeper because he captured something beyond image but he started there and so do you, and so does Claudia and so does Brian.

    There are always stories but they're cloaked in poetry as are yours and Stevens, Claudia's and Brian's. I don't think that metaphors necessarily negate Imagism - I think they only enhance it, the point of the movement as it evolved (at least, for me) was it did that Fra Lippo Lippi thing of allowing one to "see" what one would normally not notice. In that, your poetry always succeeds. This was, of course, brilliant regardless of its tag.

    ReplyDelete
  15. sitting in white clutching black sin tightly....that's the line that really grabs me. for how many can this be said to be true?

    ReplyDelete
  16. I thought this was a hard one as well. Your poem is great, though there is more here...so much more.

    ReplyDelete
  17. this reminded me a touch of the film atonement, and the sin carried for all those years. no color at all is a nice exhale of an ending.

    ReplyDelete

'Poetry is an echo asking a shadow to dance' ~Carl Sandburg