Archive for March 21st, 2023

GC Myers- Viva Nox (The Vivid Night) sm

Viva Nox (The Vivid Night) — At the Principle Gallery

If you come as softly
As the wind within the trees
You may hear what I hear
See what sorrow sees.

If You Come Softly, Audre Lorde, 1968

Audre Lorde (1934-1992) carried a lot of labels throughout her relatively short life– American writer, poet, womanist, radical feminist, professor, and civil rights activist. She even described herself with a list–“black, lesbian, feminist, socialist, mother, warrior, poet.

She had a lot of facets in her prism. Like most of us

And no doubt that prism was also filled with contradictions. Like most of us.

She even admitted her contradictions in an interview, along with why one must cope with them: Only by learning to live in harmony with your contradictions can you keep it all afloat.

It’s this sense of multiple identities, meanings, and contradiction that attract me to much of my favorite art, literature and music. It certainly attracted me to one of Audre Lorde’s poems, If You Come Softly, whose opening verse is shown above. It is one her better-known poems and inspired a popular novel of the same title for young adults from celebrated author Jacqueline Woodson.

The most obvious reading of the poem, which is shown fully below, is of one lover speaking to another. But it also could be about communication between friends, generations, one’s past and present self or many other scenarios. For me, I read it as an artist speaking to a viewer about the conversation that takes place between art and those who take it in.

You might not see it that way and might have your take that diverges wildly from mine. And that’s not a bad thing. It’s a short poem, so take a moment and see how it reads to you. There is also a  song, Night Comes On, below from Leonard Cohen, another artist with many facets and contradictions. Probably why I like his work as much as I do.

If you come as softly
As the wind within the trees
You may hear what I hear
See what sorrow sees.

If you come as lightly
As threading dew
I will take you gladly
Nor ask more of you.

You may sit beside me
Silent as a breath
Only those who stay dead
Shall remember death.

And if you come I will be silent
Nor speak harsh words to you.
I will not ask you why now.
Or how, or what you do.

We shall sit here, softly
Beneath two different years
And the rich between us
Shall drink our tears.

–Audre Lorde

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: