24 January 2009
An anonymous comment on my "Self-Portrait with Dead Goldfinch" poem, posted at poemhunter.com: "I am reading this in a public library," it said, "and it made me cry."
Since writing it I have learned of a well-known 1829 painting on the same theme, "Boy with Dead Goldfinch," by Vasily Tropinin. The boy is wearing what we call a poet's blouse, and his goldfinch was caged. He appears to be a bit angry, not just grieved; I believe his faith in the life of beautiful things has been tarnished a little.
Today was not a good day for me; my faith has been tarnished in every area but my writing. So I turned towards it. There, it's eternal summer. A place where only words die -- to be replaced by better ones -- and lovely things may live forever. The page is calm and shows no grief at having been written on. The craft is tedious, absorbing, taxing, and in doing it you renew your faith. The times faith and words have failed you eventually fade from memory.