I built my soul a lordly pleasure-house,/Wherein at ease for aye to dwell”–Tennyson, “The Palace of Art”

You cannot live in Art,
they told him.
Don’t trust in those dreams.
The Lady of Shalott died
by that river, you’ll recall.
(So they insist on ruts
& the thousand deaths
of heart’s desire.)

Keep a clear heart
when forests burn down.
Hang on to stars
when all the maps are gone.
(A fool’s paradise beats
the coffins of convention.)
Who could efface
the red-flowering snow?
The miracle of running water
in a desert of mind.
Imagination’s insistence.

The movie-reel of Time
unloops like an obsession.
Cups of tea, a long afternoon,
the sun through lace curtains.
Measures of quietude,
the lovers’ discourse.
(I guess we all lived here once,
heard concertos in the park
& wondered if the band
would ever play for us.)

Ice & warm hands–
we carry on somehow
with what is left of forgotten love:
What could be & what was.
The garden asleep, its forever
keys for the finding.


Life’s possibilities–Can one live in a palace of art (first proposed by Tennyson)? I’d have to say, Yes, I’ve been ‘there’ for many years going back to my first year of university. There are many artists and art fans who do similarly, quite comfortably. True, reality may not correspond with the aesthetic perspective, but it may offer more inspiration, hope, optimism, strength, humor, love, etc. than a lot of other lifestyles and approaches.

(I’ve never been a fan of ruts, the buried life, quantity as the sole/ultimate measurement or criteria, and what Frank Lloyd Wright called “pig-piling”. One often sees too many absurd, straitjacketing, self-imposed limits in others as well as arbitrary limitations that are foisted on others by limited-minded or limited-perspective folks.)

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