Let us strive to understand why
artists of different stripes, through all our times,
have sought out darkness, terror, and woe.
Is this alone enough weight to serve the best
grist for the mill,
the most creative soil?
Some see hope only in pain – best straw for the man,
scare for the crow,
leaves for the tea.
But love yet remains the hottest kiln fire,
best ink or brush, chisel or note, key or bow.
The lover writes, paints, sings, sculpts, dances
her way to unleashed creativity, effortlessly
producing beauty in saying so.
Lose that love and comes a torrent of page-busting pain,
notes of mourning and loss,
all the colours of the universe distilled into singular grey.
Art becomes the dense power of the black hole,
sucking energy from anything unlucky enough
to be in proximity. It is pulled in,
crushed, passed through the dark,
then, released again, purified in travail.
Let the art come then from orbital gravity –
two heavenly bodies in mutual dance.
And, sometimes, great art still issues
forth from the flinging wildly into endless space,
victim of some heavenly collision.
The sculptor trains his eye on her flowing
body, chipping away what stone blocks
the way of the visage that drives him.
Shoot an arrow through her and the same
tools are used to take his own life.
Then, the composer, matching them both,
crushes grisled notes onto a tear-stain’d staff.
The musician throws note after throbbing note, dying
as on cloth all our emotions in each one. She loses a hand
to prepare the way for the still
broader statement of the one who writes of her loss.
It is all an exercise in drilling holes in the sternum
to siphon enough life-blood for the great gushing
onto page, stone, canvas, or staff
one’s gratitude or grief;
tears or triumph;
grist or glory.
There is good art in the good. Perhaps even better art in the bad.
There is art within art. Light from dark from light,
we find the most lasting thing tucked in
the gravitas of every moment.
The artist must find the kernels of beauty tucked
in a backwash world,
like chasing fog in the dark.
Let us begin.