Posts Tagged ‘Rudyard Kipling’

Oh, East is East, and West is West, and never the twain shall meet,
Till Earth and Sky stand presently at God’s great Judgment Seat;
But there is neither East nor West, Border, nor Breed, nor Birth,
When two strong men stand face to face, though they come from the ends of the earth!

The Ballad of East and West, Rudyard Kipling

Showing another new Little Gem from the West End Gallery show, this one titled Across the Divide.

The title refers to the the river that separates the two opposing shores. There is a political commentary implied in the blue and red of the two shores representing the colors of the political divisions here in the US.

There’s a lot of talk about the need for unity, about how we need to come together as a nation, but it seems as though there is a wide and mighty river between us, one that may never be traversed.

Like the opening line from the Kipling poem– and never the twain shall meet.

I would like to think that there is common ground that we share as citizens of this nation but it’s had to see at the moment. That river looks pretty darn wide.

I was about to start on a spiel about the need for compromise but I am going to skip it. Most of you out there who read this are intelligent people who understand compromise and how important its place is in big country with a wide variety of people. You know that everybody doesn’t get exactly what they want all the time, that we all have to sacrifice at some point for the greater good.

Sometimes we give and sometimes we get, depending on our needs and situations. 

And that is a simple, workable concept until you factor in ignorance, racial hatred, and greed.

Then things go awry and you get to this point where we are now, with a wide and deep river running between us. 

I still have hope and I see it in this piece. There’s too many things here that unite us if we only allow to set aside our biases, judgements, and prejudices.

I know that’s asking a lot but is it, really?

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“At times the whole world seems to be in conspiracy to importune you with emphatic trifles. Friend, client, child, sickness, fear, want, charity, all knock at once at thy closet door and say,—’Come out unto us.’ But keep thy state; come not into their confusion. The power men possess to annoy me I give them by a weak curiosity. No man can come near me but through my act.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson, Essays of Ralph Waldo Emerson

In my Gallery Talk I spoke about the struggle to go inside myself to create in these crazy days. The outer world and its many problems seems to be keeping me from the inner. It’s a frustration that more or less paralyzes me, requiring me to go put in a lot of extra effort just to get down to work.

I am trying to reconcile this, to somehow get past this feeling.

I came across this snippet above from Emerson and it reminded me that I am the one letting the outer world in. Oh, I know you can’t keep it completely out but I was the one opening the door and inviting it in. I was the one who listened to it as it went on about its problems and thought I could somehow help it out, foolish as that idea seems when I write it out. I went, as Emerson writes, into their confusion.

It also reminds me that I get to choose how I respond to the outer world. And being paralyzed is not a choice. It’s a refusal to choose.

So, I choose to shed the paralysis, to get back to work, to explore those inner paths once more. It’s my choice and what I do.

We all have that power to choose how we react to our own forms of paralysis, fear, anger, frustration and so many other negative aspects of our world. Most likely you don’t need to hear this. You probably know this as well as I. But I know I sometimes fall out of rhythm and have to be reminded once in a while.

The painting at the top is from a few years back and lives now with me in the studio. It’s one of those pieces that really hit high notes personally for me right from the moment it took form on the easel. It’s one of those pieces that surprises me in that it hasn’t yet found a home but also please me because I get to live with it for a bit longer. I thought it echoed with the words of Emerson today. It originally echoed with the words from the Rudyard Kipling poem after which it is named, If.

I was going to include the poem here in print but here’s a fine reading of it by actor John Hurt complete with the words shown. And some powerful black and white images.

Have a good day and choose well.


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GC Myers- If...I wasn’t going to feature another new painting here this morning but I felt that this piece just fits perfectly into the momentary state of our politics.  At least how it appears to me.

In most of the recent paintings from this series featuring patterned skies (I don’t know what else to call them) the sky represents hidden forces and powers that are just beyond our sight and reach.  It’s pretty much the same with this piece except that there is, at least for me, a more chaotic and turbulent aspect in the sky.

The tree stands as a direct counterpoint to this chaos, straight and unwavering.  It  has strength and resolve along with a placid sense of being.  A sense of self awareness beyond the influence of the madness occurring beyond it.  While it is simple in design, it has been a painting that has given me a lot to think about while at the same time calming me.

As I was nearing the end of this 18″ by 24″ piece, I began to think of the famous poem If from Rudyard Kipling and how it related in many ways to how I was seeing this painting.  The poem is basically a father’s advice to his son, telling him all of the things he should learn to endure if he wants to become a man.  It would also be good advice for the ideal political candidate, male or female.  I think most of the people we have seen in this year’s presidential primaries fail to meet most of those requirements that Kipling has laid out.

The poem is below but if you would rather hear it read aloud, there is a recording of actor Michael Caine reading it at the bottom.

If you can keep your head when all about you
    Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
    But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
    Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
    And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise: 


If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
    If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
    And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
    Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
    And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:


If you can make one heap of all your winnings
    And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
    And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
    To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
    Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’ 


If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
    Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
    If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
    With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
    And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son! 
Rudyard Kipling, If

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Robert Service Cabin Dawson CitySo today is September 11 and I could mention the event that will forever be linked to that date but I’m going to write instead about poet  Robert Service, who died on this date back in 1958.  Service was called the Bard of the Yukon as he came from the Great White North and much of his work focused on tales of the life of that area, the miners of the Gold Rush and the trappers for instance in a way that reminds one of Rudyard Kipling.  In his life Service achieved a huge degree of success and wealth from his poetry, something that would be remarkable in this day and age when the idea of a best -selling poet and popular culture icon seems ludicrous.  I am always intrigued by artists in any field who are tremendously popular in one era but whose name is, for the most part, lost in the eras that follow.

Much of his verse was more  about story than stringing  words together for rhythm and sound, telling  tales that dealt with the lives and deaths of the hard men of the north.  There was The Shooting of Dan McGrew , The Ballad of Blasphemous Bill and many more with equally colorful titles but perhaps his most famous was The Creamtion of Sam McGee.

I had never really heard of Service or his poem about the end of Sam McGee until this past Christmas Eve when my nephew Jeremy’s good friend and partner, Eliza, gave our family a wonderful recitation of the poem.  She had memorized it for a class recital as a young girl and has carried it with her since.  Now, that’s good baggage.

Anyway, thanks for the gift of Service, Eliza.  On this the day Robert Service died, enjoy an interesting reading by one of my favorites and another Canadian, Hank Snow.

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