Saturday, January 10, 2009

These Are a Few of My Favorite Things

I've sent my camera back to Canon to be repaired so I am image-challenged and looking through my folders and books and cranking up the scanner.

I love this painting by John Singer Sargent called An Interior in Venice from 1898; it can be found at the Royal Academy of Arts in London. Venetian palazzos on the canals are spectacular. This room is so vast that you can't really see the back of it. I wonder who the subjects are; it looks like they are wearing linen so it must be summertime. This painting is a Henry James novel unfolding.

Here we have the Irish poet William Butler Yeats, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize for literature in 1923. Good looking Irishman, no? Yeats lived in Sligo, which is where my great grandfather Daniel O'Donnell was born. Yeats said, "The place that has really influenced my life most is Sligo." He also said, "The mystical life is the center of all that I do and all that I think and all that I write."

This poem by Yeats is called The Lake Isle of Innisfree:

"I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,
And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made;
Nine bean rows will I have there, a hive for the honeybee,
And live alone in the bee-loud glade.

And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow,
Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings;
There midnight's all a-glimmer, and noon a purple glow,
And evening full of the linnet's wings.

I will arise and go now, for always night and day
I hear the water lapping with low sounds by the shore;
While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements gray,
I hear it in the deep heart's core."

Wow. Beautiful. I love that line "live alone in a bee-loud glade."

Next up we have this photograph by Edward Steichen from 1926. It's a fashion photograph, and it pictures a couple arriving late to the theater and being seated by an usher, her flash light illuminating the aisle. Perfect, no? These clothes could be worn today. This picture reminds me of my grandmother.


Which brings me to my great grandfather Dan O'Donnell, pictured here second from left.

Dan O'Donnell came from Sligo, Ireland and arrived in New York on September 6, 1881. His mother Mary had died when he was born in 1864. He made his way up to Herkimer, New York, and was a railroad engineer on the line from Herkimer to the Adirondacks. In 1886 he married Bessie Crinion and they lived at 611 West German Street and raised in great style eleven children -- my grandmother, great aunts and great uncles. I never knew my great grandfather but I've heard a lot about him, and I think that what reaches to me is a spirit for the Romantic nineteenth century and the Irish poet.

5 comments:

Madonna B said...

Lovely presentation.

Blushing hostess said...

My Grandmother came from Sligo also, most of her family remains there. It is beautiful - both country and city. I wish i could visit more often!

bevglen said...

Sargent, Yeats, and Steichen, what could be better? Actually, your reminiscing about your great grandfather is a beautiful adjunct.

Bart Boehlert said...

Blushing hostess: It's a small world. I wonder if we are related - ha! I have not actually been to Sligo - would like to go.

Bevglen: thanks!

Ms. Wis./Each Little World said...

There is a wonderful garden named Innisfree (after the poem) that is near Poughkeepsie, as I recall. Not a lot of visitors, a magical place.