Mon. Jun 17th, 2024

The Painter by John Ashbery

  1. Sitting between the sea and the buildings
    He enjoyed painting the sea’s portrait.
    But just as children imagine a prayer
    Is merely silence, he expected his subject
    To rush up the sand, and, seizing a brush
    Plaster its portrait on the canvas.

  2. So there was never any paint on his canvas
    Until the people who lived in the buildings
    Put him to work: “Try using the brush
    As a means to an end. Select, for a portrait,
    Something less angry and large, and more subject
    To a painter’s moods, or, perhaps, to a prayer.”

  3. How could he explain to them his prayer
    That nature, not art, might usurp the canvas?
    He chose his wife for a new subject,
    Making her vast, like ruined buildings,
    As if, forgetting itself, the portrait
    Had expressed itself without a brush.

  4. Slightly encouraged, he dipped his brush
    In the sea, murmuring a heartfelt prayer:
    “My soul, when I paint this next portrait
    Let it be you who wrecks the canvas.”
    The news spread like wildfire through the buildings:
    He had gone back to the sea for his subject.


5. Imagine a painter crucified by his subject!
Too exhausted even to lift his brush,
He provoked some artists to learn from the buildings
To malicious mirth: “We haven’t a prayer
Now, of putting ourselves on canvas,
Or getting the sea to sit for a portrait!”

6. Others declared it a self-portrait.
Finally all indications of a subject
Began to fade, leaving the canvas
Perfectly white. He put down the brush.
At once a howl, that was also a prayer,
Arose from the overcrowded buildings.

7. They tossed him, the portrait, from the tallest of the buildings;
And the sea devoured the canvas and the brush
As though his subject had decided to remain a prayer.

By Romana

Hi everyone I'm Romana the creator of "Literaturebs.Online". I've always had a passion for stories, so I decided to build this space to share my love of literature with fellow bookworms like you. From classic novels to modern masterpieces, I hope to inspire and engage readers of all ages. Join me as we embark on a journey through the wonderful world of words!"

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