The Volcano

The Volcanoes. A volcano.

I have never seen "Volcanoes"

by Emily Dickinson

I have never seen "Volcanoes"—

But, when Travellers tell

How those old—phlegmatic mountains

Usually so still—

Bear within—appalling Ordnance,

Fire, and smoke, and gun,

Taking Villages for breakfast,

And appalling Men—

If the stillness is Volcanic

In the human face

When upon a pain Titanic

Features keep their place—

If at length the smouldering anguish

Will not overcome—

And the palpitating Vineyard

In the dust, be thrown?

If some loving Antiquary,

On Resumption Morn,

Will not cry with joy "Pompeii"!

To the Hills return!

_ _

Yes, I’m obsessed with volcanos. Who isn’t? The beauty of creation and destruction - The Landscape, The Geology, The History, The Current Events - all tied up in these unpredictable exchanges. They are like family to me and perhaps many. I follow their activities from afar, collecting images, and snippets of details extolling their progress or decline.

Oh, see Fagradalsfjall now!

I’ve sketched and painted hundreds of volcanoes over the years. An on going body of work, called “Ruins,” revolves around Vesuvius and Pompeii. Volcanoes are nature, metaphor, and allegory.

When suddenly they come alive, it can be a disaster. I was moved by the New Zealand Whakaari / White Island volcanic event of December 2019 and followed the coverage intently. My deep emotional response inspired me to make some art about it. So far mostly sketches, ideas, and watercolors. I often start by making photo collages, digitally now. Photo collages become a way of thinking, looking and combining the mixed emotions pairing ancient universals with current events. They may become paintings but sometimes the collage is best.

I planned to begin a grand new series of paintings for Whakaari - the tourist, the rescue, the lifeboat - for 2020. Well, we all know where that went. I may return to the subject at anytime.

The Volcano

By Emily Dickinson

A still - Volcano - life -

That flicked in the night -

When it was dark enough to do

Without erasing sight -

A quiet - earthquake style -

Too subtle to suspect

By nature’s this side Naples

The North cannot detect

The Solemn - Torrid - Symbol

The lips that never lie -

Whose hissing corals part - and shut

And Craters - ooze away -

(background note) - - On 9 December 2019, at 14:11 NZDT (01:11 UTC), the volcanic island Whakaari / White Island in New Zealand's northeastern Bay of Plenty region explosively erupted. There were 47 people on the island at the time. Twenty-two people were killed, including two who are missing and declared dead, and a further 25 people suffered injuries, many of whom suffered severe burns. The ongoing seismic and volcanic activity in the area as well as heavy rainfall, low visibility and toxic gases hampered recovery efforts over the week following the incident. - -

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