Pencil on bristol board.
"Midst others of less note came one frail form,
A phantom among men: companionless
As the last cloud of an expiring storm,
Whose thunder is its knell; he, as I guess,
Had gazed on Nature's naked loveliness,
Actæon-like, and now he fled astray
With feeble steps o'er the world's wilderness;
And his own Thoughts, along that rugged way,
Pursued like raging hounds their father and their prey."
Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822), Adonais (1821), 31
The following poem was kindly written by Barrie Singleton to accompany this drawing, and appears by his courtesy. Many thanks, Barrie...
What veil divides the artist from his art; what subtle interface – real life from dream?
Or yet – indeed – what constitutes perception’s true perceiving?
The artist, here reflected in the work – transcribed Stonemason – artisan;
Surveys he us, from dreamscape reverie or, one dimension stripped – unheeding?
Deft strokes, fine-wrought on paper’s fragile plain, ascribing skill; the artist hand
Describes a Mason, stood amongst his works; twixt these two, kin-thoughts flowing.
Through evolution’s grace or God’s design, the hand of man: fine-honed dexterity
Transmutes stone’s indolence to psyche’s whim, through his intending.
Contemplative; the Mason’s flex of hand and pensive stance, mark reverie
But which man here immortalises death; which makes of death his living?
Day lives but for a day; the dipping sun yields up to night – and sleep’s dark ‘scape.
The dreaming-self brings wisdom’s coded touch, in archetypal imaging.
Upraised against his right, Death’s winged hag, twice-mounted, bars escape
Her evil-eyed familiar, hard-by, perched and predatory - mutely gazing.
While on his left an angel form; gauche, temporary counter to death’s pall
Whose child might point a truth - or just accuse; while soft decaying.
The evergreens, squall-swayed, attend, as brooding clouds’ malevolence reflects
on mankind’s short-span tenure, with far peaks, aloof, cold-thrusting.
But who stands there, astride that low estate: rank putrefaction; in puzzlement
Of what, in life, rewards its harsh travails, repaying that obsessive questing?
The Mason can but ponder paradox: as agents of convention’s felony –
Names plundered from the corpse and chipped in stone – stand oddly maudlin.
What deeds will some Stonemason, yet unborn, grave in his mastered craft
Record, when this life’s boxed despatch calls up a dual engraving?
Will crass assumptions of some ‘afterlife’ in custom flight-of-fancy phrase
Blunt, mindlessly, sharp seers’ insights, subjugating art and artist’s rendering?
And if there judgement be, neath halls’ intimidating vault, or gate-man’s gaze
What more than life’s span run, might qualify to elevate his ranking?
Great palaces of masonry or mind emplaced? Or mankind’s wretched lot improved?
Or simply Family-Tree, one twig advanced; bloodline enduring?
May God forbid such hand-eye match should stultify in tedious, Heavenly Bliss
Where Epicurus greets horn-handed, new-arrived; embarrassed shrug displacing!
Unless etheric tools come free-to-hand and clouds consent to take on classic form
The artisan would surely long for Hell’s smelt-fires eternally impinging!
For metal, poured to mould, throws off its dross; in phase-change fix, transmuted
And Art’s most noble mettle meets man’s eye, to rank with music-joy in pleasing.
Folklore enchantment lights upon the scene; Magpies attend, in dual duality.
As ‘one for sorrow’ leaves, yet one remains, and paradox of two, invokes rejoicing.
The pencil sketch, wherein life’s shades of grey unite extremes diurnal
Traps in its intersections life itself; the artist’s cache of joyful hoarding.
Upon the work’s completion, all is still, and sunset finds the Stonemason at peace
As Time, majestic, reigns omnipotent; in artist, art and artistry, approving.
© Barrie Singleton