Day 29. What Have I to Say to You?


“Honey-Thick Stain” 10×10, oil on canvas, $170.00 [creativ_button url=”″ icon=”” label=”Buy Now” colour=”red” colour_custom=”” size=”medium” edge=”straight” target=”_self”]

This poem begins with a question: What have I to say to you? It’s a question I ask myself often. What do I, the artist, have to say to you, the viewer?

Here’s the answer: I’m not sure. I don’t know. Too much. Too little. Not enough. Need to edit it down. Let me think about it.

I’m fumbling. So I turned to William Carlos Williams, the imagist, to bring me back to simplicity of image, color, and I discovered this poem which I’d never read before.

First attempt. 11×14, oil on canvas

IMG_2748I even started with a quick sketch of what I envisioned for this painting. And then I started to paint. But it wasn’t what I wanted, so I started again. I wanted this painting to be big. Really big. So I started small. No one wants a giant mess of a canvas to deal with. I figured it’d be easier to get the details worked out on a smaller space before deciding if it was worthy of a larger canvas. My first go at it wasn’t– it’s too harsh. But the second, final attempt just might be getting somewhere.

So on a crazy day where I dropped my son off to school, raced home to meet someone interested in a painting (SOLD!) then ran across the lake to volunteer at the high school where I used to work, had my dad pick up my son from school, walked back in the house halfway through my son’s nap time (my paint time) I decided to make two paintings instead of one. It’s a little confirmation that it’s not really about the time, how much of it, but more about how I use it.

I’ve not researched it, but this poem is clearly a play on my favorite poem “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock.” I know Williams criticized Eliot for his lofty allusions over simple image-based verse. The poems are incredibly different. I’m running low on time so, for now, I’ll just say this: I like both.


“A Love Song”

William Carlos Williams


What have I to say to you
When we shall meet?
I lie here thinking of you.

The stain of love
Is upon the world.
Yellow, yellow, yellow,
It eats into the leaves,
Smears with saffron
The horned branches that lean
Against a smooth purple sky.

There is no light—
Only a honey-thick stain
That drips from leaf to leaf
And limb to limb
Spoiling the colours
Of the whole world.

I am alone.
The weight of love
Has buoyed me up
Till my head
Knocks against the sky.

See me!
My hair is dripping with nectar—
Starlings carry it
On their black wings.
See, at last
My arms and my hands
Are lying idle.

How can I tell
If I shall ever love you again
As I do now?


Picture of Denise Hopkins

Denise Hopkins

January 29, 2016

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