The Journey

The Journey 

by Mary Oliver

One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice–
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
‘Mend my life!’
each voice cried.
But you didn’t stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
was terrible.
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do–
determined to save
the only life you could save.

Journey, wind, clouds, and struggle striding to see the stars determined to save the only life you can.

Woman with Suitcase 1994 Louise Bourgeois (1911-2010)

Here is Woman with Suitcase 1994 by Louise Bourgeois whose work is based on memory and her life and who wrote:

Some of us are so obsessed with the past that we die of it. It is the attitude of the poet who never finds the lost heaven and it is really the situation of artists who work for a reason that nobody can quite grasp. They might want to reconstruct something of the past to exorcise it. It is that the past for certain people has such a hold and such a beauty … Everything I do was inspired by my early life.

In 1938 Bourgeois married the American Robert Goldwater who was visiting Paris. He left to return to his teaching job and she followed later. The figure has her back to the people and the building and she faces the blank page of her new life about to begin in America.

David Hockney, suitcase in hand,  is also on his first trip to America – stepping out of the Flying Tiger charter flight company and stepping toward the skyscrapers of New York.  “The Arrival” is the first of what was to become 16 etchings the model for which was Hogarth’s set of prints A Rake’s Progress published in 1735. Hockney said they were not autobiographical: ‘It is not really me. It’s just that I use myself as a model because I’m always around” 

The Arrival 1961-3 David Hockney

Hogarth’s The Rake’s Progress was also the starting point for Igor Stravinsky’s opera of the same name. Hockney created the set designs for Glyndebourne Opera in 1975. Here is the Bedlam scene:

David Hockney Bedlam set design for Stravinsky’s opera The Rakes Progress at Glyndebourne 1975

But back to that wild and windy journey of self discovery and assertion. Here is J.M.W.Turner.

Trees in a Strong Breeze with Blustery Clouds c.1823-6 J.M.W.Turner 1775-1851

The featured image is from Richard Redgrave’s The Emigrant’s Last Sight of Home 1858

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