Saturday, September 20, 2008

Show & Tell: Description, Part II

Oh, and I absolutely have to share this too, because I realize how well it fits.

William Carlos Williams is this great poet known for brevity and density in his writing. (He's the guy who wrote the poem about the plum in the ice box, which most of us had to read in high school.) He's describes with great precision.
And then there's, the painter, Charles Demuth, who I don't know much about. But I do know, that he painted a picture of one of Williams' poems, and I absolutely love it and it was one of the first pieces of art that I really liked and understood and felt touched by, and wasn't just told to like by some authority figure.

Here they are:

The Great Figure
Among the rain
and lights
I saw the figure 5
in gold
on a red
fire truck
moving
tense
unheeded
to gong clangs
siren howls
and wheels rumbling
through the dark city





Williams' poem is a description of a moment (among the rain and lights) and an object (figure 5 in gold, red firetruck). The verbs do a lot of work too: clangs, howls, rumbling. I think Demuth captures this poem in an abstract but visually descriptive way--the sizing of the 5 creates movement, the shadows on the edges are the dark city. And something I find humorous about this piece, Demuth put Williams' name and initials all over the painting, as if paying homage.

1 comment:

Samuel said...

Wow! That's a pretty sweet image! It does convey well the sense of what Williams was getting at.