Saturday, May 11, 2013

In Lilac Time

"When lilacs last in the dooryard bloom'd...."

So wrote American poet Walt Whitman (1819-1892) in his elegy for the slain American President, Abraham Lincoln.

Edouard Manet, White Lilacs in a Crystal Vase, 1883
 I confess to having a love of lilacs, especially white ones, but any old lilacs will do. I remember their fragrance wafting through open windows, presaging summer days to come.

Mary Cassatt, Lilacs in a Window, ca. 1880-1883, Metropolitan Museum
 They appear often in still life. Here's a selection of some.

Edouard Vuillard

Pierre Matisse, Interior, The Dog, Black, and Bouquet of Lilacs, 1908

Vincent Van Gogh, Vase with Lilacs, Daisies and Anemones, 1887

Henri Fantin-Latour, Lilacs, 1872

Paul Gauguin, Lilacs, Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza

Lilacs in dooryards

Holding quiet conversations with an early moon;   

Lilacs watching a deserted house

Settling sideways into the grass of an old road; 
---from "Lilacs" by Amy Lowell

Lowell might very well have had Willard Metcalf's White Lilacs in mind, his dooryard lilacs glowing in the moonlight.
American poet, Edna St. Vincent Millay, wrote in her Sonnet No. One, “Thou art not lovelier than lilacs,—no”

Ferdinand Hodler (Swiss, 1853-1918) had this take on a lilac.

And so to finish with a Van Gogh, and another quote from Amy Lowell's Lilacs.

False blue,
Color of lilac.
Heart-leaves of lilac all over New England,   
Roots of lilac under all the soil of New England,   
Lilac in me because I am New England,
Because my roots are in it,
Because my leaves are of it,
Because my flowers are for it,   
Because it is my country
And I speak to it of itself
And sing of it with my own voice   
Since certainly it is mine.
Happy Mother's Day