Saturday, September 12, 2015

Anne Tibbitts writes

I want to bake cookies outside and roast fish and make coffee
By the light of a campfire. When it gets dark, let’s try
To find the sky, let’s cash in all our fool’s gold
And tell each other the stories we both know so well
About the times we lost our way in the river but rose again
From foam and current to piece together a survival.
We can thrive in the thrill of just living, breathing being
A grace we always before took for granted.

 Sandro Botticelli, The Birth of Venus


  1. Anne shows here how a simple moment, spent doing quotidian tasks, can open up into a supremely poetic reflection.

    The closing part reminded me visually of the 1480s painting "Nascita di Venere" by Botticelli. Some myths had Venus spring from Jupiter's brow, while others claimed she rose as an adult from the sea, which perpetually renewed her virginity. The scallop shell is a symbol of the vulva.For Plato, Venus (Aphrodite) was both an earthly goddess who aroused humans to physical love and also a hevenly doffess who inspired intellectual love. The Neoplatonist intellectuals of Renaissance Florence would have associated her nudity with Eve before the Fall, and the pure love of Paradise, but upon arrival she will don the earthly garb of mortal sin, an act which will lead to the New Eve (the nude Madonna image so often portrayed by artists of the period), and thus the personification of Christianity (which offers a spiritual acquisition of the pure love of eternal salvation). So the shell also has a traditional context of pilgrimage.

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  3. "When it gets dark, Let's try/to find the sky . . ." That line reminds me of all the years I lived in Seoul and looked up at the sky at night, only to see a few stars at best. We trade time for money: "fool's gold."

  4. Note that both the poem and the Neoplatonic interpretation of the painting lead from an Edenic setting to grace, the divine gift of unmerited salvation.


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