Wisteria, Golden Chain and Impressionism

May 25, 2012

Wisteria in a Seattle alley

Purple wisteria

Dangling blossoms

Cascading veil of white wisteria

Detail of white wisteria in bloom

Looking down the street under a canopy of white blossoms

I pass this blooming golden chain on my walk to work.

Cheerful, yellow golden chain

There have been so many different flowers coming into bloom these past couple of weeks.  I feel compelled to jump from one bloom to another.  And for sure I had to do a post on wisteria and golden chain before they fade.  I lump them together not only because they bloom at about the same time, but because each glory under the prodigious weight of hundreds of dangling blossoms — a living curtain.  If I squint my eyes as I look at them, they remind me of impressionist paintings.

Among the impressionist painters, Claude Monet is perhaps most famous for his paintings of wisteria, which grew over the foot bridge in his gardens at Giverny.

Wisteria (Glycines) 1919-20 by Claude Monet from the collection of the Allen Memorial Art Museum at Oberlin College

Monet Refuses The Operation
by Lisa Mueller

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.


3 Responses to “Wisteria, Golden Chain and Impressionism”

    • Rosemary Says:

      Thanks for the link — what a treat to see the wisteria in bloom over the bridge! I have been to Giverny just once — would love to return someday.

  1. […] Wisteria, Golden Chain and Impressionism, May 25, 2012 […]

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