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Tuesday, July 05, 2011

"Sun, but in substance": D.H. Lawrence and Joaquín Sorolla

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Girl on the Beach, by Joaquín Sorolla y Bastida

I was nudged by two friends toward two artists this past week. One was Robert of The Solitary Walker, who mentioned D.H. Lawrence's sensual poems about things in a comment at my last post "Ode to a Cantaloupe." The other was Lorenzo of The Alchemist's Pillow about the Spanish painter Joaquín Sorolla y Bastida. (This site embedded in the painter's name includes his complete works.) As I began reading Lawrence's poems and browsing Sorolla's paintings, I loved how they met, like salt and wind. So I'm sharing a taste of that meeting here, with the ending of Lawrence's poem 'The Wild Common' and a few of Sorolla's seaside paintings. Lawrence believed that anything existential has to do with substance, not eternity. He did not want to dwell in the shadows, in the abstract, in the ether. He wanted stuff, something touchable — wings, feathers, waves, and something screaming like peewits, or pealing like larks. Feel the textures of sand, cotton clothing, hair, and water on skin in Sorolla's paintings. Languish over shapes, relationships, the way the wind is blowing. Hear the sounds of the sea, the bulls bellowing in the water, laughter of children swallowed in the slap and blur of the surf. And be sure to smell that salt in the wind, while you read Lawrence's rhapsody over being substance. If you have time, follow the link to the whole poem in the title (I like version 2; both are at the link).


excerpt from The Wild Common (version 2, 1928)
    by D.H. Lawrence

. . . But how splendid it is to be substance, here!
My shadow is neither here nor there; but I, I am royally here!
I am here! I am here! screams the peewit; the may-blobs burst out in a laugh as they hear!

Here! flick the rabbits. Here! pants the gorse. Here! say the insects far and near.

Over my skin in the sunshine, the warm, clinging air
Flushed with the songs of seven larks singing at once, goes kissing me glad.
You are here! You are here! We have found you! Everywhere
We sought you substantial, you touchstone of caresses, you naked lad!

Oh but the water loves me and folds me,
Plays with me, sways me, lifts me and sinks me, murmurs: Oh marvellous stuff!
No longer shadow!—and it holds me
Close, and it rolls me, enfolds me, touches me, as if never it could touch me enough.

Sun, but in substance, yellow water-blobs!
Wings and feathers on the crying, mysterious ages, peewits wheeling!
All that is right, all that is good, all that is God takes substance! a rabbit lobs
In confirmation, I hear sevenfold lark-songs pealing.


 Sea Idyll, 1909, by Joaquín Sorolla y Bastida

 Children in the Sea, by Joaquín Sorolla y Bastida

 On the Beach, by Joaquín Sorolla y Bastida

 The Young Yachtsman, by Joaquín Sorolla y Bastida

 The Bathing Hour, by Joaquín Sorolla y Bastida 

 
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53 comments:

Helena said...

I think that everything that is, is ethereal when you concentrate on the essence of things and doing. The tiniest thing holds the whole truth if you are fully awake.

Lovely paintings.

Miss Jane said...

Beautiful!
Loved all the !!!!! in the Lawrence--how ecstatic!
& the paintings !
Esp. the girls walking into the water and the naked boy with the sailboat. Their images merge with the water.
I love that the boy is naked (as is D.H. in the poem) and perfectly at home in the water.
The girls walk carefully, of course, holding hands, but yet I sense a certain sensual excitement in them as they join the water.
Thanks for sharing this.
Wonderful!

hedgewitch said...

Simply gorgeous paintings--I feel I can almost smell salt, see the sun wavering in the water...and that was a very affirmative and alive bit of Lawrence as well. I have an old copy of the Viking Portable DH, and I pull it out when I want a dose of power personality, my favorite poem in it being Whales Weep Not--a splendid sea piece.."and Aphrodite is the wife of whales, most happy, happy she!" Normally I would question exclamation points in poetry, but with Lawrence they seem necessary. Thanks for sharing this excellent combination.

OceanoAzul.Sonhos said...

Ruth, I love the paintings of Sorolla, with a unparalleled light.

A mixture of poetry and paintings, magnificent!

Good night
oa.s

EcoGrrl said...

these are delicious paintings - ethereal and sensual combined very well, thank you for sharing. on a day as warm as today i'd like to be out in the water bare as can be!

Maureen said...

Gorgeous paintings. Thank you for sharing these links, Ruth.

Betsy Grant said...

What a beautiful blog you have. It's pleasure to view. Amazing poem about the cantaloupe! I am a musician who blogs about creativity. Please visit me at freetospeakblog.blogspot.com I would love to hear from you.

Oliag said...

Gorgeous, sensual paintings...Love how people and water seem to merge...I haven't read any of DH Lawrence poetry before that I can remember...How nice to meet two "new" artists!

Thank you!

ds said...

What an extraordinary combining of artist and poet/writer. The only Lawrence poem I "knew" before now was "The Piano" which is nothing like this. Such exuberance! And the paintings--what tenderness, such gentle light. Yes, I could smell the sea.
Thank you, Ruth, thank you so much.

Ruth said...

Helena, agreed. I think that Lawrence would say the same. He wanted to look at that through words of substantive things. Thanks for your visit!

Ruth said...

Oh Jane, how have I missed Lawrence's poetry for so long? Robert has been posting some of his work this year. I had read 'The Snake' and that was it.

I so love these paintings too. I was also struck by the naked lads and the clad girls. Yet even in their clothes, they feel the water as if they are naked, at least that is how the girl in 'Sea Idyll' seems to me.

Thank you!

Ruth said...

Thanks so much, Hedgewitch. I think Brendan shared 'Whales Weep Not' sometime recently, and I love it.

I am with you about exclamation points, especially in poetry, but I agree with you that here (and I will find more as I explore, it seems) they suit the piece, and his enthusiasm for life!

Ruth said...

Yes, thank you, OA.S!

Ruth said...

Thanks, EcoGrrl. I could use that water about now too.

Ruth said...

Thanks, Maureen. And you're welcome. I hope you enjoy.

Ruth said...

Thank you for visiting and for your nice comments, Betsy. Your music is beautiful!

Ruth said...

Thanks, Oliag. We can discover Lawrence together then.

Ruth said...

Oh, DS, "I weep like a child for the past" — what a poem.

I'm glad that you, too, feel this pairing enthusiastically. Thank you.

steven said...

ruth, bastida is entirely new to me so you can imagine my excitement at seeing the work of someone so gifted in re-presenting the expression of a moment! it amazes me that something as transitory as a painting can capture something so much more transitory and that the viewer, in walking visually into the painting is then surrounded by its entirety. they compliment lawrence's writing so beautifully as it too is so very physical, while inside that physicality something far greater is alluded to. steven

annell said...

Thank you so much! I enjoyed it all!

The Solitary Walker said...

A remarkable fit betwixt poem and paintings, Ruth. That physicality - which Steven puts his finger on - is almost ... almost ... too much! I can take it in words, but portrayed in paint - right there, right in front of you - in the way Sorolla y Bastida does it - can be challenging. Am I really allowed to revel in all that sticky, sensual mud, and pristine water, and refracted light?

The paintings also have a certain emblematic, mythological quality.

Shaista said...

Needle in my left hand, Lawrence y Sorolla clutched in my right. My eyes and mind in heaven beside the sea... thankyou Ruthie :)

missing moments said...

I loved these paintings ... I think on the beach is my favorite but so hard to choose.

Amy@Souldipper said...

Substance, portrayed with such quality, puts eternity in my lap.

jen revved said...

These are gorgeous paintings... a feast for the senses. Would love your take on my current poem. xxxj

erin said...

it is a holy poem. it is the holy poem of the body, the bird and the chair. but i wonder, is it true that all that is God takes substance? i don't know. is light substance? is the joy that descends on me like a secret veil from the hands of a moment? what of a mother's love? not the animate reason for but the love itself? oh, if it is born in me then is it a thing because i am a thing? i am unsure. unsure. and yet i know this poem is holy.

the art, oh, it is of the skin.

see? i come back. is this ego? do things not exist beyond our perception? and if so, are they of god? and if so, then this poem is wrong? and all things solid, are they of god? what of guns? what of the penis wielded in rape? what of angry hands? i am unsure. unsure. and yet i know this poem is holy.

xo
erin

The Solitary Walker said...

'All that is right, all that is good, all that is God takes substance.'

That's the line that really struck me too, Erin. Holy. Yes. In the sense of secular-holy, sensuous-holy. Embracing the body, the physical world, sensual delight as fervently as any religion. The religion of the senses and of the substantial. To hell with God in heaven, or in some ethereal, metaphysical domain. God's present right now in the here and now and in things. And that's good and how it should be.

'No ideas but in things.'

As often with God-haters, Lawrence's verse sounds almost Biblical in its rapture.

t said...

Great post!

http://initialed.blogspot.com

Barb said...

Both painter and poet celebrate physicality. And the poet's words "flick," "flushed," "clinging," "enfolds," are represented in paint.

Pauline said...

A splendid post for the senses! Thanks!

Shari Sunday said...

Hi, Ruth. On my first stop, I confess I only looked at the paintings. Whan I came back for a second viewing I was going to post that I could smell the salt air and feel the breeze. Now that I take time to read the poem, I can see that the sentiment has already been expressed beautifully.

lw said...

seemed all joy to me, the words and visuals flowing as one stream.
truly beautiful together

Margaret Almon said...

Thank you for following the nudges and bringing these words and images together! I am intrigued by the idea of substance, that all that is God takes substance. Makes me think of incarnation.

Ruth said...

Steven, thank you for being wrapped in these paintings as I was, as so many are who stand before them, apparently, something I have never done but hope to one day. They are large, and I hear that because of their size, you do feel that you enter them. There is something inside the paintings, as inside all physical things, that is far greater, yes.

Ruth said...

Annell, I'm pleased you enjoyed the poem and photos, thank you.

Ruth said...

Robert, your question expresses what I feel too, a certain hesitancy to follow the invitation I have to dive in to that wet sand and water 100%, as if it is ours, but not completely ours, because it is only something to look at.

Or is it?

Ruth said...

Shaista, we'll we had our conversation in email while you were in the chair, and I was glad to know you were comforted by the seaside and children as given us by Sorolla. Blessings.

Ruth said...

Reena, I'm glad you love them too. Speaking of choosing, it was difficult for me to limit myself to these six paintings, there are just so many, all tremendous.

Ruth said...

Amy, yes, I agree with you, and Steven and Robert, there is something far greater than physicality in these works. Thank you.

Ruth said...

Jen, I'm glad you enjoyed the paintings. Thank you.

Ruth said...

Erin, I wish we could sit and discuss your questions. Maybe they are unanswerable, probably so, but it would still be amazing to talk about them. Well, this is what we do in our writing, and responding to one another. I still like what Rilke calls it, being 'bees of the invisible' — which for me expresses substance and eternity in one image.

Ruth said...

Robert, I kept hearing William Carlos Williams' words ringing in my ears as I wrote up this post too, 'No ideas but in things.' Maybe we could just as easily suggest: No God but in things.

Ruth said...

Thanks, t.

Ruth said...

Barb, I'm glad you feel the connections here, in such beauty and sensuality.

Ruth said...

Pauline, so glad you enjoyed it! Thanks.

Ruth said...

Shari, thanks so much for your double take. I'm glad it was worthwhile. I was just so surprised and filled up by the coincidence of the words and the paintings meeting on the same day in my experience.

Ruth said...

Thanks, lw, I'm glad you found such joy in this pairing, as I did.

Ruth said...

Margaret, welcome and thank you. Yes, incarnation. God incarnate in all things.

Louise Gallagher said...

My favourite, all time, novel is The Alexandria Quartet. Every page is filled with Durrell's poetic voice telling the story of Justine.

Your post and photos is lovely!

I must go re-read Durrell.Thanks for the inspiration.

Jeanie said...

First of all, it is good indeed to catch up with you -- I've been gone for a bit and digging in, so I won't leave a comment on all the wonderful things I've seen here, but put it right here with all this splendid art. I love his his work touches me -- I must visit the link and read more. I love all things of the beach -- this captures it all so well.

But then, your cantaloupe poem -- Mmmm. The passion of this not-official-but-definitely-worthy-of-the-name passion fruit is clear in your words. I can smell it! And "Vulnerability..." wonderful. I am so in admiration of your writing.

Ginnie said...

The beach paintings, especially after the cottage, are sublime. He has the ability to catch all that is golden of the hour.

Susan said...

Those paintings are brilliant! I can't wait to see them in person! :)

Peter said...

I'm happy you alos "discovered" Sorolla. I did it late, some two years ago when some of his paintings were exposed in Paris! Thes beach paintings really make you happy!