(copyright of the artist)
LAVACOURT, WINTER, 1881:
A PAINTING BY CLAUDE MONET
Winter, for you is blue;
And the cottages, too, are denim sky.
Why do you bring such cold to our eyes?
Why bring us the purest colour
That’s morning new ?
( ‘The leprosy of nature’ –
According to you),
Is a blemished flooring
Powdered with blue.
All is as stark as graveyard view;
The blue outside a shadow.
It’s ice in our lives, sharp and true;
The splinter of death that grey time knew.
This is the other side of A FIELD OF POPPIES;
Your summer scene of a tranquil France,
With its rash of redness daubing the grass
And your strolling family captured lovingly.
This is another season;
The broken mind’s darkness,
The winter settling in the head,
The heart’s bone of blue.
This is when Camille, your wife and model, was dead
And you were bankrupt
(Selling your paintings to pay your dues).
They say you planted your easel
In the frozen river,
To achieve an effect such as this,
A canvas that chills where human grief grew.
Later you talked of painting
That which is ‘impossible to do’;
You who loved colour,
‘My day-long obsessions, joy and torment’.
And your lily ponds of Giverny come to mind;
Those floating flowers of clustered snow,
Those impressive blurs of crusty white,
In the mirroring calm water of your garden;
Those last paintings as cold as this hardened blue.
PETER THABIT JONES