Tag Archives: art

One Must Separate the Creator From His Creation

My friend, Brian drew this recent article in the Telegraph to my attention https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2021/05/22/hot-handel-royal-academy-music-could-dump-artefacts-composer/.

In “Too Hot to Handel”, the Telegraph reports that the Royal Academy of Music is considering disposing of artifacts associated with the composer, due to Handel having invested in the slave trade. It also mentions that Mozart is being reviewed due to his father Leopold having been hosted by those involved in the slave trade during his visit to England.

I have always been of the view that one should consider a work of art (whether music, literature or painting) on it’s own merits. It matters not whether the author was a person of virtue or a disreputable reprobate. If there artistic creation is sublime, then that is what it is.

Slavery was (and remains) an abhorrent practice. However to state this fact is irrelevant when considering the value of Handel (or any other creative person’s work). Of course one may pause when listening to the Messiah and ponder on how a man who could produce such sublime music could have profited from human misery. But, in the end beautiful music remains beautiful music.

One must also view Handel in the context of his time. Many people participated in slavery either as investors or as sailors who brought human cargoes from Africa. It was (and remains) an abominable trade, but whilst condemning past men may give us a feeling of moral superiority, it does not aid our understanding of Handel’s work.

One of my favourite poets (probably my favourite), is Ernest Christopher Dowson. He lived a decadent life and died at the age of 32. During his career he spent much time in the arms of prostitutes and this contributed to some of his most moving verse, including Cynara, https://www.theguardian.com/books/booksblog/2011/mar/14/non-sum-qualis-cynarae-dowson.

I have no interest in what consenting adults choose to do in private, and this view extends to those who consort with the world’s oldest profession. However, even if one holds that those who patronise prostitutes (as Dowson did) are immoral persons who exploit the vulnerable, it is important to judge the worth of an artistic creation on it’s own merits and (so far as is humanly possible) to separate the creator from his creation.

As always I would be interested in the views of my readers.

Should Poets Write to be Understood?

Recently, an acquaintance related how her father had given her, and other members of his family a book of poetry he had written. The result? None of the recipients of his gift understood his work.

My acquaintance argues that poets ought to compose poetry their readers are able to comprehend, rather than using obscure metaphors and references to mythology which comparatively few people can understand.

Whilst I agree that poets should not be deliberately obscure, I am of the view that the first duty of a poet is to be true to themselves. It is, undoubtedly odd for poets to deliberately compose obscure poetry (and I am sceptical that many do so). However the fact that a poem or series of poems is difficult to interpret does not imply that the poet deliberately made them so.

One can not converse with the dead. But where one to have this privilege, and where one to be able to ask T. S. Eliot about The Wasteland (which many struggle to interpret), he would, I suspect say that his readers should make an effort to understand his poetry, and that he had to write the poem as he did.

I have not met the father of my acquaintance. But I am in no doubt that he put his heart and soul into his work, and that I for one would feel impertinent where I to say “sir, I don’t understand your work, you should have made it mor comprehensible”.

Seemingly simple poems can be open to interpretation. In my Selected Poems is one entitled Raining. I awoke one morning and, hearing the rain was reminded of mortality. I will die but the rain will continue as it always has.

A reader interpreted the reference to rain as implying sadness and, in particular tears. In fact I love the rain and my poem flowed from a feeling of contentment on my part. We all die but there is continuity and beauty in the eternal rain, and the knowledge of this fills me with joy rather than sorrow.

Ultimately poets must remain true to themselves and not sacrifice their art merely to bough down to the lowest common denominator. I hope that people understand what I write, but I will not change the manner in which I compose my poetry to enhance the understanding of my readers.

As always, I would welcome comments.

I Would Rather Be a Tree

I would rather be a tree
In the midst of the wood.
For in woodland glades
The traffic noise fades,
And the song of the bird
Fills the heart of the wood.
And the poet’s word
Is as nought to the bird.

The Marketplace

A man in need of company.
A girl who is free,
For a fee.
So many things can be bought.

I know one can buy
The finest art.
But the heart
Of an escort
Is never bought.

Art May Dress An Ugly Thing In Clothes Of Beauty

Art may dress an ugly thing
In clothes of beauty
And make it sing
The sweetest song.

Is the artist’s duty
To truth and beauty?
Hate and lust
Are strong

The artist’s mind
Is full of thoughts of mortal dust,
And the reputation he will leave behind.

But some still choose truth
Though their roof
Cave in,
Under the weight, of their own sin.

Meaning Is In The Eye Of The Reader

In response to a comment by me on her post entitled “The infinity of Destinies”, Veronica comments as follows:

“If I told you my own vision, the mystery would be gone, don’t you agree?”. (see https://thewavesofpoetry.com/2020/07/12/the-infinity-of-destinies-dedicated-to-e/).

As a poet, I do indeed agree with Veronica. Every reader puts his or her own interpretation upon a poem or any other piece of writing. What the creator of art intended is, frequently not what the reader, the viewer of the painting Etc, interprets. And herein resides the joy and beauty of artistic creation.

In my poem “Raining”, I describe awaking to the sound of “rain drumming on my window pane”. On reading “Raining”, a friend’s teenage son commented that he thought the rain was “crying”. This is not something which I (the poet) had ever considered when penning the poem. I can, however understand why my friend’s son interprets “Raining” as he does, and I certainly do not dismiss his interpretation of the poem.

The truth of the matter is this. Once a poem, short story, novel or any other artistic creation is made available to the public, those exposed to it will, inevitably put their own interpretation upon that creation. And they have every right to do so. This is part of the joy of creativity – that it provokes differing interpretations.

As always, I would be interested in the views of my readers.

Kevin

A Middle-class Lass, and a Ghetto Girl

A middle-class lass,
And a ghetto
Girl, both possess the power
To entertain for an hour.
Or, with their stiletto
To pierce the heart
Of men who obsess
Over a girl’s short dress,
And hide inside their art.