Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Meeting the horizon line . . .

Poet James Galvin's work is described in this bio as both musical and "profoundly ecological" -- both qualities that strongly draw me to it.  The following poem, "Art Class," plays with math terminology -- drifting back and forth between reality and abstraction -- in a way that is fun to read as well as thoughtful.  Enjoy!

       Art Class  by James Galvin
       Let us begin with a simple line,
       Drawn as a child would draw it,
       To indicate the horizon,

       More real than the real horizon,
       Which is less than line,
       Which is visible abstraction, a ratio.   

       The line ravishes the page with implications
       Of white earth, white sky!

       The horizon moves as we move,
       Making us feel central.
       But the horizon is an empty shell—

       Strange radius whose center is peripheral.
       As the horizon draws us on, withdrawing,
       The line draws us in,

       Requiring further lines,
       Engendering curves, verticals, diagonals,
       Urging shades, shapes, figures…

       What should we place, in all good faith,
       On the horizon? A stone?
       An empty chair? A submarine?

       Take your time. Take it easy.
       The horizon will not stop abstracting us.

I found Galvin's "Art Class" at It is included in Resurrection Updated: Collected Poems 1975-1997 (Copper Canyon Press, 1997).   Galvin's poem "Geometry Is the Mind of God" appears in this blog in an earlier posting -- available at this link.

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