Friday, 1 January 2010

The Moon and the Yew Tree

The Moon and the Yew Tree

This is the light of the mind, cold and planetary
The trees of the mind are black. The light is blue.
The grasses unload their griefs on my feet as if I were God
Prickling my ankles and murmuring of their humility
Fumy, spiritous mists inhabit this place.
Separated from my house by a row of headstones.
I simply cannot see where there is to get to.

The moon is no door. It is a face in its own right,
White as a knuckle and terribly upset.
It drags the sea after it like a dark crime; it is quiet
With the O-gape of complete despair. I live here.
Twice on Sunday, the bells startle the sky ----
Eight great tongues affirming the Resurrection
At the end, they soberly bong out their names.

The yew tree points up, it has a Gothic shape.
The eyes lift after it and find the moon.
The moon is my mother. She is not sweet like Mary.
Her blue garments unloose small bats and owls.
How I would like to believe in tenderness ----
The face of the effigy, gentled by candles,
Bending, on me in particular, its mild eyes.

I have fallen a long way. Clouds are flowering
Blue and mystical over the face of the stars
Inside the church, the saints will all be blue,
Floating on their delicate feet over the cold pews,
Their hands and faces stiff with holiness.
The moon sees nothing of this. She is bald and wild.
And the message of the yew tree is blackness -- blackness and silence

Sylvia Plath

That is the moon tonight, on the 1st of January 2010, as I painted it from my window. Yesterday was full moon. It was a true blue moon: the second full moon in a month. The last time it fell on New Year's Eve was 1990.

That poem is the first thing I ever illustrated. I had a book of poems for children by Carol Ann Duffy, Meeting Midnight, and the illustrations were - not necessarily attractive to me but so evocative and captivating. They are so full of life, that is what I wanted to make. So I read this beautiful Sylvia Plath poem, and closed my eyes, and drew a body, falling. Saints in blue oil pastel hovering, and an ugly yew and powerful moon.

Happy New Year everyone, enjoy the binary date.

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