On a poem on a painting on a plowman

A poem by John Marvin

Sombre chagrin [… and] le souffle fort du vent
Marcel Proust Paulus Potter

you read these words in your later world
and under a sky of dismal gray
after days when strings of logic dehisced
after the demise of poetic authority
after that great hiatus across a fruitless plane
where divisions and revisions hissed
through branches stripped of every leaf
when every page hangs as dry mist
in electric clouds plus triste d’être
in des ciels uniformémant gris
having no need for a shelf a table top a desk
les maigres studies ne portent pas de fleur

but flowers did bloom back then
back when Marcel read Deux chevaux
and when he dreamed of a gray sky
confused with occasional blue
of a day that may have been cold and labored
of d’un soleil imcompris and trees without shade
gazing back when a plowman lugged a bucket
in a calloused hand caked with residue of toil
toward an evening’s rest as he and his mares approached
une chaumière puffing against the wind
looking at last for home
sans end sans joy et sans color

John Marvin is a teacher who retired and subsequently earned a Ph.D. in English at SUNY Buffalo. He has poems in scores of journals, and literary criticism in Hypermedia Joyce Studies, James Joyce Quarterly, Pennsylvania English, and Worchester Review. His book, Nietzsche and Transmodernism: Art and Science Beyond the Modern in Joyce, Stevens, Pynchon, and Kubrick, awaits a publisher.

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