Saturday, May 06, 2006

Your fallen Orpheus

for Ross Ritchie



Ross Ritchie Thought II (1964) AUCKLAND CITY ART GALLERY



The shadow
of the despairing man
seems longer than a
mile. He is
your fallen Orpheus,
stripped of his lute
& now more naked
than those women
in the foreground.

Movement of the wind
is memory
of movement
in the macrocarpa trees;
but they no longer
hear the music. What
was, what is. Em-
barrassment.

The other people
in the painting — the men
in evening dress, the
women undressed
for another kind
of evening — do not
concern themselves
with anything going on
behind. Untouched
by memory or shame
they spend their time
participating in an
empty orgy that
echoes out the
hunger of the age.

This moment, in the
gallery, I stand in
what must almost be
the same spot as
you stood in your studio
to cast the last
glance that
completes
the painting. The summit
of the background hill
has since lost
sight of you, & now
it is my time to turn
& leave the ground
your fallen Orpheus
walks upon.


Wellington, N.Z. 1964

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