Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Such Pleasure in Small Hours by Ilyse Kusnetz

Ilyse Kusnetz's beautiful debut collection 
I've had this book on my desk for several weeks. It makes me happy to see it there. I've reread the poems several times learning bits of history and art, geography and life. I'm also in love with the cover -- the artwork, Papilla Estelar,  by the Spanish-Mexican artist, Remedios Varo. Varo was a close friend of Leonora Carrington, a British-Mexican artist whom I'm very interested in and whom I've posted about recently.

Papilla Estelar by Remedios Varo
But it's the poems we come to a book for, the art is a lovely extra. And perhaps the best of both worlds is the combination of poems about art -- ekphrastic poems. Small Hours includes many -- here is one that I fell in love with --- I'm a sucker for blue.

WOMAN IN A HAMMOCK, 1916

                    (Fredrick Carl Frieseke)

Frieseke paints her sun-dappled,
dissolving into a world of blue--
French, cobalt, periwinkle, cerulean,
the lapis of afternoon dreams,
a violet of the mind.
Even her pink face is blue.
Tea things laid, silver-blue vapor
curled like an orchid in her cup,
the ashen-blue shadows of roses
rising on the porcelain teapot.
Blue, the straw-hatted nanny
clutching her mistresses infant, who plucks
at the edge of his blanket,
spread like a lavender cloud
across the hammock where
his mother lies, a sheen of blue
like a wintry mask, glazing her cheeks.
Bluest of all, an indigo fan
she holds in her hand
too heavy with blue to move.
Beyond the garden wall
the world ignites in shades of red---
ruby, crimson, scarlet, poppy.

Woman in a Hammock, 1916 by Frederick Carl Frieseke


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