Monday, June 13, 2011

stained summits

My first idea for this week's Illustration Friday (topic= "swept") resulted in this etegami. But then I got to wondering if it was too grim. Besides, it needs a lot of explaining, and it really fits better in my "humanizing the quake" series.

It was inspired by the last lines of the Robert Frost poem below (published in 1928, in a collection called West-Running Brook). The poem may or may not have been written in response to the great Misssippi River flood of 1927, which killed and displaced thousands of people. Apparently some of the politics that followed the disaster were quite ugly. Reading about it naturally made me think of the current bickering and power struggles within our Japanese government-- at such a time as this, when unity is so desperately needed for rebuilding the country.

The 3.11 tsunami left stains on the walls of the few buildings it did not destroy or carry away. But I feel that it also left stains on the "summits" of government politics. These stains are not pretty. I don't claim to understand much about Frost's poem, but I was deeply affected by his images of blood, flood waters, and stains.

The Flood
Blood has been harder to dam back than water.
Just when we think we have it impounded safe
Behind new barrier walls (and let it chafe!),
It breaks away in some new kind of slaughter.
We choose to say it is let loose by the devil;
But power of blood itself releases blood.
It goes by might of being such a flood
Held high at so unnatural a level.
It will have outlet, brave and not so brave.
weapons of war and implements of peace
Are but the points at which it finds release.
And now it is once more the tidal wave
That when it has swept by leaves summits stained.
Oh, blood will out. It cannot be contained.

poem by Robert Frost

If you haven't seen the one I finally posted for Illustration Friday, it's here. At least Tolkien fans will love it. :p


  1. Life CAN be grim sometimes but this is the way we deal with it making poetry or images to cope with the way things are and the impotence we can feel. Your images to do with the quake and tsunami have opened our eyes to the diversity in what many see as a totally homogeneous society. Yes they are sad but they are worthwhile.

  2. This is very sad! I'll try to send you a happy etegami with the big wave from Nice.

  3. just had to let
    you know
    i checked out your Sketchbook in seattle!

    it was Beyond Wonderful!



    if you hop over to my blog via the link
    you can see your Sketchbook cover....

    {{ you are very clever,
    by the way,
    and we loved your art ! }}