GREEN THOUGHTS IN GREEN SHADES
I’m continuing my exploration of color, moving on from blue musings to green thoughts in the studio this week. The inspiration coming this time from Helen Frankenthaler’s “A Green Thought in a Green Shade” and my daughter Chloe, whose name in Greek means green shoot or new blooming and this verse from Marvell’s The Garden, which speaks of the transcendent activity of the mind and of the social nature of the human condition–which creates the longing for withdrawal into contemplative solitude while at the same time rendering it impossible.
Meanwhile the mind, from pleasure less, Withdraws into its happiness : The mind, that ocean where each kind Does straight its own resemblance find ; Yet it creates, transcending these, Far other worlds, and other seas ; Annihilating all that’s made To a green thought in a green shade.
Also brought to mind when thinking about green, the green of nature, are words by the American philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson which help orient us in the story of depth in nature and consciousness: “How shallow seemed to me yesterday in the woods the speech one often hears from tired citizens who have spent their brief enthusiasm for the country, that Nature is tedious, and they have had enough of green leaves. Nature and the green leaves are a million fathoms deep, and it is their eyes that are superficial.” This depth of nature is a reservoir of life energy. And, in the words of the Victorian Jesuit poet Gerard Manley Hopkins: “There lives the dearest freshness deep down things.”
And a final green thought, Pablo Neruda wrote his poems in green ink because it was his personal symbol for hope. Read one of my favorite Neruda poems here.
And, from Rilke
And you inherit the green of vanished gardens and the motionless blue of fallen skies, dew of a thousand dawns, countless summers the suns sang, and springtime to break your heart like a young woman’s letters.
You inherit the autumns, folded like festive clothing in the memories of poets; and all the winters, like abandoned fields, bequeath you their quietness. You inherit Venice, Kazan, and Rome;
Florence will be yours, and Pisa’s cathedral, Moscow with bells like memories, and the Troiska convent, and the monastery whose maze of tunnels lies swallowed under Kiev’s gardens.