Michael Shepherd

Rookie (8.4.1929 / Marton, Lancashire)

0021 Under The Bridge Of Time - Poem by Michael Shepherd

Oui, c'est beaux, le jardin... at this time of year;
mais... for myself,
a little too overgrown – but Monsieur
prefers it that way… you see him down there
by the lily pond, the nymphées?

He’s nearly blind now, yet he’s out all day
and nearly every day. He draws life from the garden,
je crois; and though there are some who laugh
and say, his paintings are now
mere daubs, when I see them
and then go out into the garden,
there’s a truth there, beyond what we see…
what passes, what floats serene and unaffected...
what floats on time itself...

You may find this fanciful, but I’ve watched Monsieur
over the years: first he had the garden made,
when he could afford it, and the bridge and then the pool
that slows the river… then he painted the lilies which we planted,
floating on the water, all the colours
of sunshine as you see it through a prism…then he painted
the sunlight on the water… then
he seemed to paint the flow of the water
as it passed… and then he seemed to be painting
time itself, passing under the bridge
where we’re standing here, as if
outside time… and now,
qu’est-ce qu’on dit? I think
he’s painting the philosophy of time –
Monsieur Bergson le philosophe
agrees with me – in paint; perhaps
one might say, painting
the future of painting…

yet, the flow of time and death came first, they say:
Monsieur began to paint his water-lilies
after he had seen the photos of the solemn river
of corpses in the trenches
in that terrible war; even, it's said,
the same colours of the unburied dead who putrify
are the same colours that he sees
in the water-lilies...c'est étrange, n'est-ce-pas?
a sort of redemption in the painter's palette...
this, I feel, gives these pretty paintings
the vision that drives Monsieur
to find beauty in its opposite...

but it’s cooling now; Monsieur
likes to enjoy that glowing light of early evening,
the precious departing of the light…
the light of life itself...
I’ll fetch his rug…these artists seem to
lose themselves in what they see…
they don’t seem to notice passing time,
it’s as if they think they live where time is space;
or perhaps, time’s so precious for Monsieur
that he paints it running out…

but I mustn’t keep you, M’sieur Proust –
it was so kind of you to find the time
to visit, and you too, M’sieur Debussy –
it has been quite a day to remember, n’est-ce pas? …
and now for Monsieur’s rug…

Comments about 0021 Under The Bridge Of Time by Michael Shepherd

  • (7/29/2006 1:36:00 AM)

    Yep. Declan says it all. This is one to which to return time and time again. t x (Report) Reply

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  • (7/28/2006 4:45:00 PM)

    Awestruck Michael. Truly awestruck. (Report) Reply

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Poem Submitted: Friday, July 28, 2006

Poem Edited: Thursday, August 19, 2010

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