Poem: ‘The Painter’

The Painter

Climbing the dune,
wind heavy in our faces.
We squint (or do we smile?),
our laughs and quips
diffuse in the air.

Young legs carry you
ahead to the summit,
where tufts of green cling
to an existence. Then you’re
a sudden lithe silhouette

against a racing sky.
I revel in your victory;
your gentle hand hauls me
up close to ocean eyes,
an elfin smile, teeth

pristine like breakers
on the distant, crashing
shore, that white noise
filling our ears.
To look into you

is to look as men
have done for centuries.
Unchanging heart,
you’re the pearl left
nestling in filth.

So take a look –
can anyone steal time?
An hour here or there,
we leave our footprints,
no foothold anywhere.

I am the painter of this shore –
you are the model.
Again and again,
we return to wrestle
in familiar hues;

deep alizarin crimson,
yellow ochre, phthalo blue,
making it real. Stay in this
moment, we bless and bless.
It has to be you.

© copyright David Francis Barker

* Taken from the collection ‘Anonymous Lines’

The illustration is from a larger painting of a scene overlooking the North Sea, from sand dunes at Wells Next The Sea, Norfolk, England.

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80 thoughts on “Poem: ‘The Painter’

  1. Hi David
    Such a lovely scene 🙂 Some moments are magical, this is one of them. I also love the painting.The North Sea here looks a lot like it does on your side!

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  2. David- wistful, gorgeous poetry! ‘Unchanging heart, you’re the pearl left nestling in filth’….what a lovely line. I love your use of color in the last stanza as well, and that last line…yes. Fantastic.

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  3. Emma, I thank you so much! I suppose we’re all orphans in some sense and have to grab every at any opportunity for happiness, however, insubstantial it may be. I am very grateful to you for reading and commenting on this.

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  4. Beautiful, David, on all counts: the words, the image and the feelings and lines in-between. I just loved your last line: it has to be you – so final and so full of promises.

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  5. How simply wonderful. I am glad you followed my blog for I have now found yours. Your words are simple magic, your paintings are power. Thank you.

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  6. Hi David. I love the way you compose your poetry with your painter’s eye.

    This I particularly liked:

    ‘I am the painter of this shore –
    you are the model.
    Again and again,
    we return to wrestle
    in familiar hues;’

    …part of the engaging lyrical whole.

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  7. David, I have tried SO MANY TIMES to get your blog to allow me to follow you through my email, but no luck. The “follow” button does not recognized my valid email address. The “like” button does not recognize my valid wordpress sign in. I finally discovered the correct wordpress URL from another Tweet of yours. Hooray! Anyway, your paintings are just ethereally beautiful and say so much about ourselves on this planet. “I am the painter of this shore”: indeed, doesn’t that say a lot about how we shape our own destiny’s, set our own limitations and designs? The “you are the model” part disturbs me just slightly as a woman who has never been comfortable being “looked at”, so to speak. Thank you for the loveliness of this post that will haunt me and prod me on to my own “designs”, I am sure.

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  8. Ah, I finally found the poems by looking in archives. This is just exquisite. Especially like the image of the pearl in filth and your use of color in the last stanza, which always speaks to me. Beautifully rendered.

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  9. This is poetry that catches up into the timeliness of time, reminding us that we cannot truly steal what always exists, but always escapes us. To me this is the stanza upon which the whole poem turns. In the end all any of us can do is stay in this moment

    deep alizarin crimson,
    yellow ochre, phthalo blue,

    and realize that yes, this moment is wrapped up in you, the model, the lover, the friend… the landscape of the seashore.

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  10. David, I think this is stunning. You are a true poet, and painter as well, and to have those two incredible outlets of creative expression to manipulate and share is such a precious gift. I think that the reason your posts are so magical is the way you are able to, with the painterly spirit of the artist, (evoked, for example, in the unusual colour names in the final stanza) give us a picture and then give it added life with words. The paintings alone are wonderful, but the words take them to new levels. I love!

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  11. “You’re a sudden lithe silhouette” is my favorite line, if I have to pick just one. It’s a gloriously beautiful portrait! Thank you!

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  12. This sounds like a father’s view of a memorable place and times (to me). I feel childhood through to an adult’s eyes rather than romance. “Unchanging heart, you’re the pearl left nestling in filth..” emotive, beautiful poetry. I like the up-to-date feel of the painting to couple with the poetry too, the contemporary clothing and brushstrokes for the sky. 🙂

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  13. Hi! Yes, I think you have a good point. I have been thinking recently of having a website wholly for poetry, like an archive, to stand alone from the blog. Once again, I appreciate your interest. David

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  14. Louise – I thank you so much! I sometimes think that the best art can only come from pure feeling and cannot be manufactured, yet of course, we all work so hard at perfecting a poem or painting, don’t we? I am very grateful to you and I look forward to more of your posts. David.

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  15. I thank you! I am very grateful for you kind words. Yes, the last line was inspired by that sense you only rarely get in life (if ever?) of looking into someone’s eyes and getting that feeling of the ephemeral and the eternal meeting in some inexplicable, heavenly space, framed by nature’s elements. Not really knowing what it’s ‘all about’ is, I guess, part of life’s beautiful (if often painful) mystery. Thank you! 🙂

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  16. nice…followed claudia and victoria over…and what a reward…well written…the pearl in the filth is a line i wish i had written…great depth of feeling in your closing lines too…

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  17. Brian, I’m really grateful for your comments, thank you so much! I’ve been trying to look into ‘d’verse’ a bit more but never seem to get around to it, but I’ve only recently got into top gear with this blog. Been going for 18 months (painting and poetry) but I hadn’t figured how rich a community there was online. Thank you again!

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  18. David, you write,

    “So take a look-
    can anyone steal time?
    An hour here or there,
    we leave our footprints,
    no foothold anywhere.”

    And, you paint a moment in time in

    “deep alizarin crimson,
    yellow ochre, phthalo blue”

    Your artistic gifts are breathtaking…

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  19. it has to be you…alone this line carries so much weight… love the scene you paint…she the model, you the painter, the capture of outside and inside.. love it and again a breath-taking painting…

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  20. Can anyone steal time? I like that…..that’s what makes an artist an artist- the ability to make time more malleable, the inability to become a time slave!
    Bravo!

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  21. Hi David,

    Once again you have given me a treasure.

    I agree totally with reading-stars here; for me it speaks of love for a child from a parent, maybe. “Young legs carry you ahead to the summit” This reminds me of our trips to the Lake District, how we always used to remark that our son climbed those hills like a young mountain goat.

    I have read it again and I can see romance too – two for the price of one here!!

    Your painting is, as ever, so soothing to my eyes. I love the way the figures in your pictures appear so small against the landscape, emphasising, for me, what a tiny pin prick I am in this great big world and yet at the same time how I have been given the privilege of a life important enough to enjoy and savour all the beauty that surrounds me. Each of us has an important role in the world.

    Your work seems to bring out the “babble” in me!!

    Christine

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  22. Hi Christine, once again I am so grateful for you comments. Yes, as far as paintings are concerned I nearly always have people being pretty small, dominated by the scenery, which is, as you so rightly say, how it is in reality. I am very grateful to you and best wished, David.

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  23. For this first time visitor, there is much to enjoy on your blog. Your art is as enchanting as your poetry, and your poetry has heart. It is filled with balanced touches of color and metaphor. This is a lovely place to visit. Would you mind putting some tea on, I’d like to stay awhile.

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  24. Wow David, you are so talented: painter and poet. The painting reminds me of Panama City, FL and the poem is breathtaking. Thanks for subscribing to my blog. I’ll have to try painting my word pictures are wonderful as your paintings.

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  25. Great poetry and art! I was working on a piece with the same theme recently. Who knows, maybe this will inspire me to finish it 🙂 Great post, David!

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  26. Your poetry is simply beautiful, and so are your paintings. Your blog takes my breath away! Looking forward to reading more, and to viewing more of your lovely art.

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  27. This is great poetry. It depicts a beautiful scene, and the words themselves are beautiful. It fits together well. Thanks for sharing!

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  28. Enjoyed hearing the waves crash along with the poem! Your words evoke the sounds.

    Thanks for signing up for foundinfrance. Have you seen my poetry blog?

    poetryphotosandmusingsohmy

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  29. The painting – it’s beautiful, utterly beautiful (the blue I feel is just perfectly the brightness I’ve seen some days).

    Your poem is so beautiful. What artistry. Poems truly are something ELSE.

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  30. David what beautiful paintings you do and the words that accompany them…Wells next the Sea…a favourite of my childhood..thank you for sharing this – Jane

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