poetry with a place

I was inspired to create three compositions on three queer (gay, in this instance) relationships pertinent to Art History. I’m unknowing of why these were the ones that I picked, despite there being quite a few more of weighty impact, some of even more impact that those I chose. I was just reading up on some of them during Pride month and these were the ones that spoke to me sufficiently as to inspire poems. All of them play with some of the elements of the relationships, along with a coalescence of the arts they were occupied with and, of course, my own sentimental hand, which is never too distant of any of my verse. I also include a thin biography of the figures, might they be obscure for some.



Sergei Pavlovich Diaghilev (1872-1929), on the left, was a critic and the ballet impresario responsible for the creation of the Ballets Russes, a vagrant dancing company known for the formation of many significant dancers of the time, and one of them was Vaslav Nijinsky (1890-1950), on the right, often considered one of the greatest if not the greatest dancer of his age. After Nijinsky married Romola, a known Hungarian aristocrat, Diaghilev threw him off the company, and though he later tried to form his own company, he failed to do so. Eventually, he fell into madness, spending his last thirty years in various asylums in Switzerland. Diaghilev went on to have a series of male lovers throughout his life. The last was Igor Markevitch, who later married one of Nijinsky’s daughters in what seemed to be the last nail of this turbulent history.


1 – Walt Whitman, Passage to India, 8th stanza
2 – “Audi, vide, tace” translates from Latin to “Listen, look, be silent.”

Edward Morgan Forster (1879-1970), on the right, was an English novelist of exceptional talent and one of a very fruitful harvest named the Bloomsbury Group, of which Woolf and Roger Fry were part of. He wrote a few novels, among them The Longest Journey, in 1907, and A Room with a View, in 1908, but the greatest and most lauded was indubitably A Passage to India, in 1924, after a period of fourteen years since his last large work. A Passage to India was special, however, since it was inspired by his greatest love, Ross Masood (1889-1937), on the left in the picture, the grandson of an Islamic reformist and son of a judge and jurist, both from British India. Forster tutored Masood in Latin, and since Masood was ten years his junior, it is believe that the relationship was never materialised beyond its platonic nature. Still and despite that, it is clear through correspondence and the aforementioned novel that it meant much to them both.


3 – the first and last verse of the first stanza of Thou Art a Vineyard, or Shen Khar Venakhi, a Georgian hymn attributed to King Demetrius I.

Francis Poulenc (1899-1963) was a French composer with an extensive catalogue of compositions and a profound influence to many others as part of the Six along with other composers of his time, like Louis Durey and Darius Milhaud, and Richard Chanlaire (1896–1973), of whom I found no picture but only a painting, was that, a painter, and assumed to be the first actual lover of Poulenc, who had others throughout his life. Despite there being virtually no information on their relationship, I found it of tremendous interest to explore, in verse, the romance of a painter and a musician, both attuned to wordless worlds which can hardly — if in any way — be replicated in text. The usage of the Georgian hymn comes about a citation I found of Benjamin Ivry, a biographer of Poulenc, in which he found that in a copy of his Concert champêtre that he gifted to Chanlaire, Poulenc wrote “You have changed my life, you are the sunshine of my thirty years, a reason for living and working.”.


I hope you enjoyed this small exploration; surely the compositions aren’t as complex or dense, but they have their own place, I find. They do, this time around. And it goes to show that poetry may come from any fount, if our poetic ear is so inclined. Verse, however, might be a bit harder to rope out, but it is certainly always there, ready to be rescued.

Thanks for reading,
João-Maria.

Published by João-Maria

A tick clinging to the bristles of a purple boar.

32 thoughts on “poetry with a place

    1. I’m so glad, Phil! Since I’m mostly read by other poets, I get a bit anechoic in my little corner, so I’m terribly thankful that I can also capture people who aren’t poets (or exclusively poets) with my words. It means a ton.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Wow. Yet another reincarnation of yours — your inventiveness and poetic fluidity and both wide and deep talents continue to astonish, amaze, and please. One note — I absolutely love the artistry and deeply thematic importances contained in the novels of E.M. Forster. I am a long-time fan, and while you are correct that “A Passage to India” is phenomenal and perhaps best loved and received by critics, my personal favorite is perhaps his less well-known “Howard’s End”. It is in (my pathetically trite nutshell) about the importance and spirituality of place and the things that truly make strength of character in people, regardless of gender. If you have never read it, I would recommend it to you. Thanks again for sharing your art with us. This was quite wonderful including the small well-written bios. Happy Day to you — Jane

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you so much, Jane. As ever, I blush with your kindness.
      I’ve only read those I mentioned. The Longest Journey, Room with a View and Passage to India, and that latter one I read to write this very poem, which is interesting, since it added nothing. Or it might have added something, but not purposefully. I adore him immensely, and I likely didn’t do justice to his genius, but I did try to mix in his sober, lucid romantism, which is often pinned for unrealism, but I find so dearly charming.
      I must read Howard’s End!

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  2. Well, João-Maria, as Cordelia says to Lear, “I cannot heave my heart into my mouth”.I found these profound and exciting and masterful – even more so because I know the works of all except Masood. As I’ve said before, you know how to make this aspiring poet feel more than inadequate! Thanks for these – they’re beautiful and I’ll be letting you know more further on! Bloomin’ heck – you’re a bloody genius. They beautiful. I’ll shut up now… x

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    1. Thank you, Bruce. I knew you’d like em. Masood has no work, he was just a latin student. He eventually went to Oxford and did something though nothing of artistic relevancy.
      We’re all aspiring somethings, Bruce. We are quite in the same league, I find. But I’m glad that someone considers me a bloody genius! About time!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Beautiful explorations, Joao-Maria, quite sensual. You’ve such an adventurous way with words.

    I particularly liked Diaghilev/Nijinsky, which seems full of light, elegant movements. I also liked having the biographies.

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    1. Thank you, Cath! I’m so happy you say that, because I veritably elucubrated quite intensely as to replicate those light, elegant movements characteristic of dancers, and the constancy of form to mimic that of ballet dancers: point, rest, point, rest.
      If you captured that, then the job was well-done. Glad to have you by, Cath. It’s always important to me.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m still (always) learning. I enjoy your prose companions to your poetry. Your prose is artistic and your poetry is poetry. I don’t know how to classify the prose passages, though. Sometimes they appear to be explanations of the poetry, which would be problematic in my poetics. A poem for my modernistic poetics should be its own story. Then I look at your prose as part of the whole artwork in what I would consider “mixed genre.” Would you care to enlighten me about how you view your integration of visual art, prose, and poetry? I always learn when I visit your site. Peace, Dave

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    1. In this case, David, this prose is just biographics of the artists I mentioned in the poems, for reference, in case people didn’t know them. I’ve used prose baked into other poetic works, such as the case of (droplet) jorge and emperor julian’s bandana. Other than that, I sometimes add small notes to clarify references, inspirations or link to other creators and artists, especially in WordPress or musical projects.
      Visual art is rarely but finely used, and usually for the same reasons. I’m very synesthetic, insofar as I often view sound and colour and text in such approximation they can become inextricable. Though I’m not a visual creator, sadly, and barely a sonorific creator, which I often don’t share publicly, I mostly rely on other artists that permit my usage of their works, and in such, I might aid them in visibility, which is of tremendous importance to me.
      I’m jubilant that you learn something from me, David. You’re a Harvard alumni and an immensely experienced creator, academic and spiritualist. If I, this silly kid from under some Portuguese rock, can teach you something, then it must something worth teaching. Thank you so much, David, you’re awesome.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Ah, Pete, you like the one I like the least! How dare you! Haha. Well, I have this habit of oscillating towards the worst of me, I find.
      I’m glad you liked it so, as I know you are of lofty tastes, as you should be. If I can capture you with something, I’m beyond exultant, especially when I’m such a fan.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh no!!! I appreciated them very much. I distractedly typed my comment to you, with my mind elsewhere in a conversation in the room and mistakenly referred to them as haikus for which I unreservedly apologise.
        Nevertheless they were wonderful to read and you skillfully and eloquently deployed them.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m somewhat happy with it, sometimes. I’m not very mythological about myself. But thank you, John, it always means so much. I think it’s more important to me that people like it than I.

      Like

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