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Thursday, January 7, 2016

Raphael -Madonna of the Chair, Vivaldi - Winter, Ranier Maria Rilke - You see, I want a Lot, Robert Louis Stevenson - My Shadow

A new year - fresh starts and new attempts at old things.  Each day is a new start, but somehow a new year feels even bigger!  At the brink of the new year it seems appropriate to start with a new artist, composer and poet. Italian painter and architect of the High Renaissance, Raffaello Sanzio da Urbino, known as Raphael is a well-known artist - I'm a little surprised that I haven't featured him yet, but somehow he's been saved for this moment (at least on this blog).  If you want to preview or print the paintings I plan to feature you can check out my Picasa Web Album of Paintings by Raphael or choose some of your own from the following five links to places on the web featuring short biographies and samples of his paintings.

Biography of Raphael

25 Beautiful Paintings by Raphael

The National Gallery's Raphael paintings

Wikipedia List of Paintings by Raphael

Google images - Raphael Paintings

Raphael painted Mary and the baby Jesus over and over.  Today's painting is one of these. Many artists have painted Mary and Jesus.  I think it is interesting to note how each artist brings his own culture and perspective into the painting with clothes and accessories and even style of painting.  I think the circular format of this painting is interesting and cuts out background details focusing on the people. It makes it seem cozy and intimate.  There are lots of diagonal lines in the painting itself for your eye to run along, giving it energy:   arms, Jesus leg, the lineup of the faces, the stripe on Mary's garment.  Notice how John the Baptist off to the side is present but not prominent, the central focus remains Jesus and his mother.  Here is a link to an article featuring this painting.

Madonna of the Chair

Our new composer is Antonio Vivaldi.  If you'd like a biographical sketch, check out the following two links:  Baroque Composers and Musicians - Antonio Vivaldi or Wikipedia - Antonio Vivaldi.  You also might enjoy the Vox Music Masters CD "The Story of Vivaldi and Corelli", which has Vivaldi's story interspersed with his music.  

Our first piece for this season is Winter from The Four Seasons.  And following is a link to a Vivaldi playlist if you want to listen as background music. 

I just found a copy of poems by Rainer Maria Rilke at our library's used bookstore so I'd like to feature his work this term.  I was first exposed to his poetry in a book about Anne Morrow Lindberg by her daughter.  Anne loved Rilke's poetry.  So, I've only read a few of Rilke's poems so far, but what I've read so far is beautiful and moving so if you don't mind we'll explore his work together.  Since his work is advanced, I'll also feature a poem from Robert Louis Stevenson's A Child's Garden of Verses each week for those with younger children and those who don't care for Rilke's work.  I never tire of Stevenson's poems!  If you don't already own a copy of this work, it's a book worth owning!  

                    You See, I Want a Lot
                          Rainer Maria Rilke
              (translated from the German by Robert Bly)

You see, I want a lot.
Perhaps I want everything:
the darkness that comes with every infinite fall
and the shivering blaze of every step up.

So many live on and want nothing,
and are raised to the rank of prince
by the slippery ease of their light judgments.

But what you love to see are faces
that do work and feel thirst.

You love most of all those who need you
as they need a crowbar or a hoe.

You have not grown old, and it is not too late
to dive into your increasing depths
where life calmly gives out its own secret.

                       My Shadow 

                           Robert Louis Stevenson

            From: A Child's Garden of Verses

I have a little shadow that goes in and out with me,
And what can be the use of him is more than I can see.
He is very, very like me from the heels up to the head;
And I see him jump before me, when I jump into my bed.

The funniest thing about him is the way he likes to grow--
Not at all like proper children, which is always very slow;
For he sometimes shoots up taller like an india-rubber ball,
And he sometimes goes so little that there's none of him at all.

He hasn't got a notion of how children ought to play,
And can only make a fool of me in every sort of way.
He stays so close behind me, he's a coward you can see;
I'd think shame to stick to nursie as that shadow sticks to me!

One morning, very early, before the sun was up,
I rose and found the shining dew on every buttercup;
But my lazy little shadow, like an arrant sleepy-head,
Had stayed at home behind me and was fast asleep in bed.



  1. The Rilke poem is really interesting! The Stevenson poem is an old favorite!

  2. I like your word, "interesting" for Rilke's poem. I'm not sure I always "get" what he means, but I find his poems moving and yes, interesting - something to think about and wonder about. Thanks for taking time to comment! It's always fun to hear from readers....