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Rodin at Portland Art Museum

Selections from the Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Collections

Jan 21 – Apr 16, 2017

I caught the Rodin exhibit somewhat by chance on the day of its opening, unaware of it until I passed by the museum after a journal, poetry, and espresso session at Park Avenue Cafe early Sunday afternoon. To my pleasant surprise the museum galleries were less crowded than I anticipated. Perhaps citizens of our fair city had other things than art on their agendas with the return to routine after two weeks of snow, ice, and bitter cold.

This fine exhibition of 52 bronzes has many of the standard pieces: The Burghers of Calais, The Gates of Hell, Balzac, Hugo, Mahler, Claude Lorrain, caryatids, lesbian lovers. They move me no matter how many times I see them. There is about Rodin's human subjects above all a great dignity, whether it is a burgher sacrificing himself for his city or a writer whose imaginative power and vision, genius, makes him at once grand, a giant, and altogether human. The exhibit is on display into April. Perhaps I will have more to say about after another visit.

I am operating from home today – PTO balm for my wounded spirit – laying down a few lines that draw on Shelley's "England in 1819," the one that begins "An old, mad, blind, despised, and dying king,– / Princes, the dregs of their dull race, who flow / Through public scorn, mud from a muddy spring…"

What vainglorious despot prowls corridors of power through depths of night,

darkness pierced by glint of rat-red eye, orange mane welded into place,

dark mutterings the issue of dark thought unleashed in vituperous torrents,

Etc., I suppose…

It is not Shakespeare, or even in the vein of my better efforts (I like to think I have better efforts), but rant seems to be the order of the day. Yesterday I came across a wonderful remark by Keats where he portrays himself "writing at random – straining at particles of light in the midst of a great darkness." That is how it is at its best.

your intrepid scribe with Lexa Leong at the Gates of Hell, Cantor Art Center,

Stanford University (January 2009)

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