Luminous Cows

The Cow With Parasol by Marc Chagall

You could see cows then in Montmartre
when lights called the world to Paris.
Young hearts came, consumed with their art,
their sight defined Her as heiress.

When lights called the world to Paris,
they found their ideas in cafés;
their sight defined Her as heiress
through canvas, brush, paints and wordplay.

They found their ideas in cafés
in Her energy and freedom.
Through canvas, brush, paints and wordplay
inspiring artistic outcome.

In Her energy and freedom
musicians and artists said they
created inventive outcome
whether written, sculpted or played.

Musicians and artists said they
must make the unseen become known,
whether written, sculpted or played
by weaving their souls in art’s bones.

Must make the unseen become known,
must live and die imbued by art.
By weaving their souls in art’s bones,
they transformed the cows of Montmartre.

Picasso to Chagall, Apollinaire to Hemingway they put the cow and the bull in their art; and Gertrude Stein made “cow” a whole new symbol!

© Gay Reiser Cannon * 1/2012 * All Rights Reserved

45 thoughts on “Luminous Cows

  1. wonderfully done to form…which just makes it all the more enchanting….i will probably die with art still in my bones…weaving thier soul in arts bones is a great line…

    • Thanks Brian – funny about form poems plus subject matter – they go the way they go and not quite the way you want to direct them. They’re somewhat like unruly children until you take control and dress them up for going out!

  2. this is beautiful gay…love the form – no idea though what form it is but it works so well with the rhythm…love the lights calling the world to paris…and all the art spilling all over this fantastic city…you captured it wonderfully

  3. Hi Claudia, it’s a pantoum that started out to be a ballade. I guess poems have minds of their own. More about Paris in the Ballade though. I FINALLY got it finished.

  4. Awesome form, Gay – I love the way place and time are set in the intro and how you come circle again to cows, transformation of. To shine the light on something is to transform the object… and yes, that’s what art does. Wonderful poem.

    • Thanks Ruth. Yes the cows led me down the path to the pantoum rather than the other way around. This started as the beginning of the ballade I’ve promised for next time. The Ballade, however, also had a mind of its own. It is, nevertheless, a very much related poem to this one and to the series of dance poems (the ballade was originally a dance, of course) that I have been writing. I think the next one’s a Rhumba!

    • Thanks Laurie – it is what we do – I think of it the way I do needlework. Like knitting, crochet, weaving, even embroidery – the poet uses colors and textures and images to create a tapestry, a story. The pantoum enhances that metaphor very well with its repetitions.

  5. Nice tribute to art, to these particular artists, and to creativity in general. Love the Chagall to underscore all this. Good job!

    • Thanks Jackie. I’ve been reading and considering that period of art for a long time now. It exploded and had time to be realized just before the technology change in the 50s. However it was interrupted by two world wars both of which affected the artists in Paris as France was in the middle of both. Many great artists were lost to those wars particularly the first. There were harrowing escapes and some losses to Jewish artists in the second. Then the 50s brought television, multi-media and a different vision to the world that impacted art in a way still not fully understood.

  6. A pantoum- really interesting and never seen before. Really artistic poem that made me see scenes of young artists honing their craft. ‘young hearts came’- I love the form- unusual- but the way you put it down was excellent. So jealous that you can nail the form like this!

    • Stu – We covered the Pantoum on FormForAll in September. It’s always OK if you missed a form article, or want to refer back to it, you can click on FormForAll on the dVerse home page and then you may have to click older posts as it only puts up the last four or five articles to a page. Here’s the URL for the one on Pantoums.
      I was also writing and hosting articles at OneStopPoetry before it dissolved and we re-formed as dVersepoets. The articles are still archived there. Here is the address for OneStopPoetry – – The forms began there and continued here. If you want a list of all the forms I’ve covered on both sites, email me here:

  7. Musicians and artists said they
    must make the unseen become known,
    whether written, sculpted or played
    by weaving their souls in art’s bones.

    Your work shines off the page–Wonderful piece–there is a relationship between painting and singing that I am seeking to understand–perhaps it is the making of the unseen become known—



    • Thanks Maureen – when I get a little time. I thought I’d add one on the Ballade which will be posted on 2/7 to go with my article. It’s a companion piece to this, of sorts.

  8. Neat. I like the rolling through effect. (my one panoum was a klunk) Yours, makes me want to go out and embellish cows. Thanks for the Chagal.

  9. hi gay

    love the note at the bottom – a cool exploration of some of my favourite subjects – including my former home – montmartre… 15 years ago this very month… a much younger man (boy:)
    so a timely reminder for me… much enjoyed gay – all the best

  10. How the modern was a re-awakening of the most ancient pagan rite … the bull god is found in the Paleolithic caves of Chauvet and Altamira: surely the Venus of those old hallows breathed life into these awakening artists … Montmartre was probably a druidic site at one time, overlooking a Paris that dates back to the 4th millennium BCE. Anyhoo, the metric and schematic weave here is as strict and mesmeric as a tide, washing in a brilliant movement in the flux of the ages. Lovely. – Brendan

    • Yes and I’m sure those brilliant minds who met in Stein’s Salon and in the cafe’s and in studios – painters, musicians, poets – (they all called themselves poets when that was a grander name than it is now) were well aware of that. There was an abattoir at the end of the street where Chagall lived and he said he rose and went to sleep with the lowing of the cattle. Their sounds filled his dreams and he awoke to paint them. Surely however, in such an environment they would have discussed the symbols, the history and relationships of cattle to men through the ages. Great comment Brendan and as always thank you for coming by!

  11. Thanks everyone for coming by and reading. I’m working (for pay) online today and will be in and out getting to your blogs as I can. I appreciate your notes and comments and hope you’ll come again. Gay

  12. I love pantoums, when they work they are amazingly hypnotic and effective. Here, you’ve managed to put together – with such an intricate structure – a tribute to arguably the greatest artists and their improbable muse. I imagine the “golden calf” of Biblical yore threads through the imagery as well, lending yet another level to this work.

  13. Gay! this is so wonderful!! The weave of thoughts, words, color here straight from the imagination, but more from your heart. I am so elated by this poem!

    There is a classical statement here, not in so much form, since I can’t determine what that is, (don’t have the ability in this) but the evocative memories of something more ‘felt’ than known is in my mouth right now.

    What a marvelous poem, Gay! You just get deeper, broader and better at this stuff.

    I LOVE Chagall and keep forgetting him. LOL! He has very early artistic memories to me, as my mother had a print of him in her bedroom and it fascinated me to no end. As does your poem.

    Lady Nyo

  14. Pingback: featured poets ~ “G” | my heart's love songs

  15. Pingback: encore presentation: 2012 featured poets ~ @gennepher and @beachanny {Gay Reiser Cannon} | my heart's love songs

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