Ferdinand Hodler exhibit // proportions & the view on life is so subjective

my roadbike at the entry to the Hodler exhibit

my roadbike at the entry to the Hodler exhibit

.

a mountain chain, extensive,
blue (the only color we endure
in large amounts), thin stripe of green
few earth brown cows, (tiny)
along the lower margin of the painting,

i sink in, digesting what i heard
about his childhood,
mother, dad, five siblings,
lost to tuberculosis, all within a few years,
&before his eleventh birthday,

in another room,
a picture series of his lover, Valentine Godé-Darel,
1913, beautiful, neck like a swan,
circling on a summer evening on a swiss lake,

1914, cancer just about  to wake, 
holding her baby daughter, an apparition, sketched

1915, in her sickbed, hair dissheveled
eyes that ask thousand questions, looking–
looking at him

as he paints (She, sHe, shE), obsessively
trying to hold–

eye contact //inteR-
Rupted, tension robs my breath,
& i imagine,

sitting by her bed// silently?, brush in hand,
she, thinking of her kid,
trying to withstand
the pulling–

on the deathbed, clothed in a light-green dress,
tiny feet, shoes with fine, brown straps,
hands folded, rosary entangled fingers,
on the wall behind her three, blue lines,

how long did he sit before
packing away the paint, hope–
Paulette, the little girl, he takes home, raises her
with his wife, & life disturbs me,
someTimes more than death,

a mountain chain in blue,
(the only color we endure
in large amounts, he said), a stripe of green
few earth brown cows, (so tiny in relation)
graze along the lower margin
of a— life

is never smooth, it’s spring
& people drink café on chairs that turn
their face toward the sunshine,

as do i, unlock my bike,
& cycle home,

———-escorted only

by the shivering creek’s moist whisper

.

a little snapshot of my visit to the Ferdinand Hodler exhibit in Basle last sunday… linking up with dVerse OpenLinkNight where Tony is in charge of the mic today.. write a poem & join us when the doors open at 3pm EST..

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66 responses to “Ferdinand Hodler exhibit // proportions & the view on life is so subjective

  1. The shivering creek’s moist whisper – left a trail of sadness and an exquisite tremor in my soul. Beautiful – I can picture the pictures from your wonderfully sensitive descriptions.

  2. Extraordinary work, Claudia ~ beautifully told.

    I’m working on an elegy for lychgates just now and hope to trap that sense of time passing as you have here.

  3. Oh my, the colors of the bike, it’s chain.. and his life and world you correlate with them; love the tiny earth brown cows.. life that disturbs more than death..thanks for taking us there claudia

  4. Your poem makes me want to look up some of his art, as I am not familiar with him. So true that life is never smooth. There is always much more than surface in art, in life. I really liked the photo you took of your bike, Claudia.

  5. what an emotional moving piece…to watch one that is passing waste away…have been there a bit with my mother in law…can only imagine a lover…and to capture it in art…the wrap around repetition works well in this…and life…it can be rather disturbing…smiles.

  6. I see the little cows in your photo of the poster and your classic bike. They loom large with the life and chain of lives you bring forth in this poem, from the hidden past of artist. the painting, and your vast heart. I cannot leave it at the elements of art–color, line, brushstroke, medium–not after your words.

  7. Spring is finally here, C … everything is still brown in brown, but the air smell “springy” this morning … sorry, might be beside the point of your poem … but all I can feel is spring …. so lovely … cat.

  8. I love the colors of blue, green and brown in the canvas of the artist ~ There is a sharp contrast of death, with the spring and sunshine ~ Life is never smooth but unexpected is the gift she brings to us ~

  9. What a sad life story. It’s heartbreaking the way you said he packed away the paint, hope. Imagine him doing that so young with such an enormous history of loss. This is extraordinary.

  10. A terrible time when tubercolosis was incurable.. so many died. To get it was just to wait nomally. You have told the story so well, and I love that repeated stanza (blue, the only color we can endure).

  11. What a tragic life he had… your compassion shines through. I like the contrast of spring, as life goes on.

  12. Whenever we want an exquisite report on any event, we find a poet to experience it and do the heavy lifting of explication & epiphany. Nice told, well said, informative, tragic, yet sensitively shared; thanks.

  13. I love how you chronicled time in the piece. The referencing of years stand out. A nice device you utilized for the piece. It give is time and space. Another wonderful composition, Claudia.

  14. Goodness Claudia..I nearly cried, I think if I read it again I would. It was possibly my favourite piece I’ve read by you. It’s deep trembling tenure just left me lingering with an ache in my heart.

  15. I liked a good part of this–the part after the facts. There is a trap when we try to write about real people or pieces of art, How much real information is needed to get the essence of what stirs the imagination in the first place? Too much and it becomes pedantic, lost in ephemera. Too little and we may miss the intended objective of explaining the cherised thing, but may still end up with good poetry nonetheless.>KB

  16. Great piece, Claudia. Love the way your writing style has developed. It’s very unique- I always know when I’m reading one of your poems. We’ll have to ride bikes together if we’re ever in the same country.

  17. “by the shivering creek’s moist whisper” — what a perfect ending to your beautiful poem, Claudia. You made her story come alive.

  18. The story is beautiful because it looks at art and its effects on relationships. The model dies, and the man takes the child back to his wife. Was she just an instrument in his life or was she truly a part beyond the art? That she died so young, tragically, emphasizes the romantic aspect of the story, yet one must ask these questions I think.

  19. Ummm, wow. I’m a little speechless, this one hit me right between the eyes, my mind stitched in its own details and it was like you wrote it just for me. This is why I love poetry.

  20. This is so mesmerizing and touching…like watching a romantic movie, spellbound…that color blue…the only color we can endure…I love this poem!

  21. beautifully introspective in the external world

    ” life disturbs me,
    someTimes more than death” –

    and the refrain near the end,

    “blue,
    (the only color we endure
    in large amounts…”

    beautiful claudia, beautiful

  22. The brought to mind for me the many ways we attempt to confront the death of a love one when it cannot be avoided…how he seemed to want to cling onto every last moment of her life…but not even capturing those moments could prevent the pain that followed death…a most thought provoking poem.

  23. Thank you for taking us with you!! I love traveling alongside you and seeing your point of view on the world.

  24. Wow… This is fabulous, the story and your telling of it, you pulled all the sadness and hope and life altogether into this piece just perfectly, and that ending is marvelous. Really, you amaze me every week.

  25. A beautiful tale from the gaze of an artists work, expecially when we add learned details. Also, the ending could have been a stand alone poem. So excellente!

  26. You put all these elements in a cohesive whole – Holder’s life, his art, and your own impressions… Beautifully done, Claudia. 🙂

  27. You make me think of the character Polly, in I’ve Heard The Mermaids Singing. She rides around on her bicycle taking pictures of life and is so awed by art! Your poems and the way you see the world make me think of her.

  28. Haunting and compassionate. This piece is resonant with beauty. Love the refrain and I think that’s true. Blue, the only color we can endure… And this line: life disturbs me,
    someTimes more than death, so true! I feel it too. Your words resonate in my soul. Well done Claudia!

  29. Claudia, I loved SO MANY lines in this. You walked right across the moon, not stopping…or looking looking both ways…when I believe life to be difficult, I’ll come read this again.
    Thank you, C-Girl

  30. I love this:

    blue (the only color we endure
    in large amounts), thin stripe of green

    And these:

    i sink in, digesting …

    cancer just about to wake,
    holding her baby daughter, an apparition, sketched

    thinking of her kid,
    trying to withstand
    the pulling

    on the deathbed, clothed in a light-green dress,
    tiny feet, shoes with fine, brown straps,
    hands folded, rosary entangled fingers,
    on the wall behind her three, blue lines,

    how long did he sit before
    packing away the paint

    escorted only

    by the shivering creek’s moist whisper

    This is an excellent poem, Claudia. Gorgeous, haunting writing.

  31. Wow, awesome poem, your words are filled with such compassion and insight. I could feel your pain. That lone bicycle by the rocky mountains is a strong image too. Wonderful poem, one of your best! I must admit I’ve never heard of Ferdinand Hodler but will have to check him out.

  32. Claudia, what a tragic, sad life! oh my goodness, it makes me so sad–and then to ride home next to the shivering moist creek–perfect ending