Michael Shepherd

Rookie (8.4.1929 / Marton, Lancashire)

! ! Impressionism In Paint, In Music, In Words - Poem by Michael Shepherd

To know the impossible to be impossible
and yet to love the attempt;
to demonstrate that beauty is eternal, yet
seen only in that moment now,
never to be captured, ever changing -
'evanescent' holds a little of the sound of it -
this, the heroic failure that betokens love.

Monet was that hero. For perhaps you may
catch beauty's shadow in a photograph;
even glimpse its joy, there, in the sound of song;
but try to catch it - dab by dab of brush -
when in the time it takes to do this, yet another leaf
- there, watch it as it drops -
has fallen from that distant orange-yellow-brown
blur of an autumn wood - knowing as you render nature's generality
or catch a church, a haystack, in a sundown glow,
that all things pass -
that love's heroic: and when, in irony that surely
needs no underlining, blindness comes upon you, yet
you go on painting, as the water-lilies blur
into the water-weed, into the bridge,
into the time that runs down to the river, to the sea...

and in turn, Renoir, in his 'Moulin a la Galette' dance-cafe,
catching the human reflection of this flow, our yearning
for the perfect moment to remain, frozen, set, fresh-baked,
forever caught - this is what my life has led to,
this is what, surely, I deserve - under the lanterns in the trees
the young girls with their cheeks of peaches, apricots,
and lips like fruit that's waiting to be pressed,
dream of forever to be loved; while their tonight's men
smoke, and drink, and dream of where a young man's lust
might just be step into another world -

while in that room up there that looks down on this scene,
Proust, seeing the cafe's dance of fleeting beauty, writes to catch
those moments lived and lost and yet remembered;
and Debussy, his tentative composer's piano notes
heard just above the cafe's resident accordionist
whose sentimental music you too will remember
to your dying day, and smile a gentle tear - and when
past midnight, as the silence falls upon the thinning dance, and
couples, singing, arm-in-arm it home, and
Monsieur le patron extinguishes the lanterns in the trees,
and the humble workers' square is suddenly a nowhere place,
Debussy will hear the moonlight sliding through the window
onto the piano's keys...

of beauty, we can say not much
of all that may be said.

(To Michael Gessner, who reminded me about poetry.)

Comments about ! ! Impressionism In Paint, In Music, In Words by Michael Shepherd

  • (8/24/2005 10:35:00 AM)

    I love it when you include art in your poetry. It's a subject you know and it adds knowledge to your lyricism. I feel like that cliche about feeling like you can walk into the scene of a painting - I feel I could walk into the Renoir scene of your poem. Excellent. (Report) Reply

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  • (8/24/2005 10:07:00 AM)

    This is breathtaking, Michael. I would have chosen all those same examples of beauty, had I been astute enough to write about beauty. You have outdone yourself.

    (Report) Reply

  • (8/24/2005 8:56:00 AM)

    I like it Michael...as always good work! (Report) Reply

  • (8/24/2005 7:44:00 AM)

    Michael, I think it is a beautiful poem. (Report) Reply

  • (8/24/2005 7:27:00 AM)

    Yeah, I do a slow foreplay. Turns me on. You'll have to live with it. (Report) Reply

  • (8/24/2005 7:08:00 AM)

    Monet, no. Renoir, yes. Proust, yes. Debussy, yes. 'while their tonight's men
    smoke' was a very strong line. The first verse was all over the place but if you cut that out (pure hokum) , you have an evocative piece here. Very well thought out in places. A creditable canvas indeed.
    (Report) Reply

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Poem Submitted: Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Poem Edited: Friday, November 13, 2009

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