Thursday, August 02, 2007

Heade's Letter

I have substantially completed another poem on Martin Johnson Heade, this one concerning "Ruby Throat of North America" (1865) a painting of which Heade made perhaps ten (each, slightly different) versions while living in London, trying to arrange the publication of his Gems of Brazil series. It is not clear what Heade was thinking as he worked on this painting (or rather, on this series); his life is not that well documented. It could be that he was simply homesick, or that painting ten or more versions of the same scene was a relatively easy way to raise money--we do know that Heade became financially desperate as it became clear that his plan for the Gems series was failing.

Or perhaps...

Like everyone else, I was shocked by the bridge collapse in Minneapolis last night. If I am not mistaken, the fallen bridge is very near the infamous pedestrian bridge on the campus of the University of Minnesota, from which John Berryman took his step into the dark on January 7, 1972.


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