Luminous and Diaphanous Dragonflies

December 5, 2011

Japanese dragonfly scroll by Kinoshita Itsuun and Ichikawa Beian

Last week after work I took advantage of the Seattle Art Museum’s “First Thursdays” free admission and treated myself to its current exhibit, Luminous: The Art of Asia.  I found the exhibit to be a serene, but inspiring, oasis during this busiest of holiday shopping seasons.

Quiet gallery on Thursday evening at the Seattle Art Museum

I will be featuring a few of my favorite pieces in the next couple of days.  Today I wanted to showcase this lovely Dragonfly scroll, one of a pair from the Japanese Edo period (the other one featured butterflies).  I can understand why so many Western artists have been inspired by Japanese drawings and paintings.  These dragonflies are exquisite!

The Dragonfly
by Louise Bogan

You are made of almost nothing
But of enough
To be great eyes
And diaphanous double vans;
To be ceaseless movement,
Unending hunger
Grappling love.

Link between water and air,
Earth repels you.
Light touches you only to shift into iridescence
Upon your body and wings.

Twice-born, predator,
You split into the heat.
Swift beyond calculation or capture
You dart into the shadow
Which consumes you.

You rocket into the day.
But at last, when the wind flattens the grasses,
For you, the design and purpose stop.

And you fall
With the other husks of summer.

(You can listen to Bogan reciting this poem at this link.)

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