The Life of Things

about 1438-42The Vision of Saint Eustace
Pisanello (c. 1395 – c. 1455)


When I Buy Pictures

or what is closer to the truth,
when I look at that of which I may regard myself as the imaginary possessor,
I fix upon what would give me pleasure in my average moments:
the satire upon curiousity in which no more is discernible
than the intensity of the mood;
or quite the opposite—the old thing, the medieval decorated hat-box,
in which there are hounds with waists diminishing like the waist of the hour-glass,
and deer and birds and seated people;
it may be no more than a square of parquetry; the literal biography perhaps,
in letters standing well apart upon a parchment-like expanse;
an artichoke in six varieties of blue; the snipe-legged hieroglyphic in three parts;
the silver fence protecting Adam’s grave, or Michael taking Adam by the wrist.
Too stern an intellectual emphasis upon this quality or that detracts from one’s enjoyment.
It must not wish to disarm anything; nor may the approved triumph easily be honored—
that which is great because something else is small.
It comes to this: of whatever sort it is,
it must be “lit with piercing glances into the life of things”;
it must acknowledge the spiritual forces which have made it.


Marianne Moore (1887 – 1972)
Quotation within poem from  The Poetry of the Old Testament by Alex R. Gordon (1872 – 1930)


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8 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Thought provoking and moving.

  2. What rich and marvelous things you bring us – thank you, Secret Gardener.X

    • Thank you–as ever– And also for letting me know that someone else cares.
      Although things seem to be going nowhere, I have to remember to find each meaningful word of commendation heartening.

  3. coming here always brings a surprise, for you share the most beautiful images and I really like wandering through your words….
    both have made me smile today…and shown me another artist I will enjoy discovering more of
    Thank you …
    Take Care…You Matter…

    • I’m very glad—Lots of Pisanello, if you want to go back through the blog at all.

      • I will ! it is a soothing energy looking at the art you share
        Thank you again

  4. Thanks. I like the painting and poem. St Eustace v important in Russell Hoban novel Ridley walker … Highly recommended. Regards from Thom at the immortal jukebox.

    • I guess that when it comes to music, we are always imaginary possessors.

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