Monet Refuses The Operation Poem by Lisel Mueller

Monet Refuses The Operation

Rating: 4.0


Doctor, you say there are no haloes
around the streetlights in Paris
and what I see is an aberration
caused by old age, an affliction.
I tell you it has taken me all my life
to arrive at the vision of gas lamps as angels,
to soften and blur and finally banish
the edges you regret I don't see,
to learn that the line I called the horizon
does not exist and sky and water,
so long apart, are the same state of being.
Fifty-four years before I could see
Rouen cathedral is built
of parallel shafts of sun,
and now you want to restore
my youthful errors: fixed
notions of top and bottom,
the illusion of three-dimensional space,
wisteria separate
from the bridge it covers.
What can I say to convince you
the Houses of Parliament dissolves
night after night to become
the fluid dream of the Thames?
I will not return to a universe
of objects that don't know each other,
as if islands were not the lost children
of one great continent. The world
is flux, and light becomes what it touches,
becomes water, lilies on water,
above and below water,
becomes lilac and mauve and yellow
and white and cerulean lamps,
small fists passing sunlight
so quickly to one another
that it would take long, streaming hair
inside my brush to catch it.
To paint the speed of light!
Our weighted shapes, these verticals,
burn to mix with air
and change our bones, skin, clothes
to gases. Doctor,
if only you could see
how heaven pulls earth into its arms
and how infinitely the heart expands
to claim this world, blue vapor without end.

Monet Refuses The Operation
COMMENTS OF THE POEM
Terri Kirby Erickson 02 May 2010

Monet Refuses the Operation by Lisel Mueller is such an exquisite piece of work, I wish I had written it, myself! I can't think of a higher compliment from one poet to another. It is so good I am almost speechless...which is HIGHLY unusual for me! Thank you so much for posting it. All the very best, Terri Kirby Erickson, terrikirbyerickson.wordpress.com

6 2 Reply
Leslie Audes 29 November 2009

Wow! i love this poem! It reminded me of something i read recently in 'Proust Was a Neuroscientist'. It was a chapter about Cezzane, not Monet, but it delved into an artist's striving to catch the 'abstract'...this poem, with Monet's change in perception. I also love how Mueller showed Monet's situation to be a change in perspective - rather than something wholly negative.

5 0 Reply
Terri Kirby Erickson 02 May 2010

Monet Refuses the Operation by Lisel Mueller is such an exquisite piece of work, I wish I had written it, myself! I can't think of a higher compliment from one poet to another. It is so good I am almost speechless...which is HIGHLY unusual for me! Thank you so much for posting it. All the very best, Terri Kirby Erickson, terrikirbyerickson.wordpress.com

3 2 Reply
Joeline Rayment 08 May 2013

Yes! this is beautiful... I always had issue with the many critics and historians who paint a picture of Monet's change of site as a limitation and a tragedy. Here Lisel has created a glimpse into the other side of wonder and possibilities that Monet had, and indeed choose to half keep. And such a brilliantly beautiful flowing poem as well.

4 0 Reply
Kitty Smith 09 May 2014

this is a masterpiece, I've read nothing like this before.... I love it.

3 0 Reply
Tamara Beryl Latham 25 July 2020

A beautifully expressed poem with such vibrant imagery. Loved it! : -)

0 0 Reply
chris g 10 March 2020

WOW, what a way to turn relative devastation into something positive. Not creepy, artfully done.

1 0 Reply
Tom Allport 17 December 2016

truth sings and whistles its own tunes

2 0 Reply
M Asim Nehal 17 December 2016

A wonderful poem yet again.

2 0 Reply
Rich Persoff 25 May 2015

Such beauty and insight, so far beyond the self-referential whimpering which masquerades as poetry today.

1 0 Reply
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