Catherine Chandler's Poetry Blog

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Early Sunday Morning: Alienated Majesty

Edward Hopper's Early Sunday Morning, Whitney Museum of American Art

This is the third ekphrastic poem I've written on the work of Edward Hopper. This Miltonic (caudate) sonnet was published recently in Mezzo Cammin, Volume 11, Issue 2.

Bon dimanche!

Edward Hopper's Early Sunday Morning

In every work of genius we recognize our own rejected thoughts;
they come back to us with a certain alienated majesty. —Ralph Waldo Emerson

There’s something comforting and intimate
            about the line of small shops in the glare
            of Sunday morning. Something clean and spare,
            bounded, but suggesting infinite
extent. Then all at once we take a hit
            to the solar plexus— we become aware
            of storefront windows whispering beware,
            and that the quietude is counterfeit.
The atmosphere is placidly bereft,
            devoid of movement or of mortal face;
            the softened desolation of the street
suggests a hyper-emptiness, a trace
            of absent presences, a bittersweet
            tristesse, as though humanity's been left
                                    alone to face the heft
of enigmatic darkness to the right,
a monolith that leads our line of sight—
                                    through Hopper's scumbled light—
away from consolation to concern
as we approach our point of no return.

-- Catherine Chandler (2016)


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