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7 Mar 2023

Jack B


Full Moon


Mar 21st

Ruskin and
‘The Walls of Lucerne’

Feb 20th

                                    Only one swath of light, stretched

                                             from just inside the wall


                                    across the near tower, held

                                             any interest for him.


                                    Its harsh white brought to life

                                             small patches of vines and


                                    crawlers he could tender

                                             with the thinnest of strokes


                                    and washed the tower’s walls

                                             clean against the sky’s indigo


                                    frown. Beyond this easy contrast,

                                             the rest of the scene shrugged


                                    against his canvas, all color

                                             and smear. What bored him


                                    in the near at hand—windows,

                                             balconies, the beginnings of stairs


                                    leading nowhere—did not even

                                             deserve the waste of paint.

Behind the poem...

From the first time I saw John Ruskin’s The Walls of Lucerne, I felt it was a perfect representation of human consciousness as the artist understood it. Ruskin structures the piece around a central band of light filled with focus, clarity and pristine detail. Outside of this focus, he builds a landscape of increasingly blurred, half-formed shapes and colors, trailing off into bare canvas. I wouldn’t blame anyone for seeing this – or any of Ruskin’s works – as unfinished. But I’d counter that its completeness is less valuable than its accuracy, always.

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