Water Lilies: Claude Monet, 1917, by Peter Filkins

Water Lilies

Claude Monet, 1917

Meanwhile he painted them–water lilies
floating on the surface of a pond
he’d constructed for the pleasure of the eye
and motifs to paint
at the century’s end,
the new one begun with multiple explosions
of red, of pink, white fleshy flowers
against the backdrop of a subsurface blue

with distances, the sky itself reflected
in the watery calm where a cloud adrift
would later be captured by his brush
in motion, each day in the studio
another one spent to the echo of guns
bombarding the trenches, pummeling the Some
erupting in billows of acrid black smoke

upon a horizon no longer present
but subsumed, erased, immersed as he was
in the flux of light on water, flowers
afloat on the air beneath a willow
and its weeping, our only perspective
in a lost world lost to bottomless translucency,
the eye that sees it, and the intractable sun.

Peter Filkins (2007)

Peter Filkins is a poet and teacher of writing and literature. He has published two volumes of poetry, After Homer (2002) and What She Knew (1998). This poem appeared in the Winter 2007 issue of The American Scholar, the journal of Phi Beta Kappa.

One Response to “Water Lilies: Claude Monet, 1917, by Peter Filkins”

  1. Ariane Says:

    Greetings from Giverny! I love your poem that renders so well the atmosphere of Monet’s world.

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