"Self Portrait of the Artist Painting His Wife" by Giulio QuaglioThree ‘Imaginary Sonnets’ by Daniel Galef The Society June 9, 2019 Beauty, Culture, Ekphrastic, Poetry 5 Comments These poems are part of Daniel Galef’s series Imaginary Sonnets. Each sonnet is a verse soliloquy from the perspective of a different historical figure. Gillette to Frenhofer (spoken by the character in Balzac’s story “Le Chef-d’œuvre inconnu”) I’m lost for words, except to say you’ve made __A nothing of me. Neither the Lescault Nor any hint of me have you portrayed. __It’s faultless—or perhaps it’s one great faux— A void of color out of which one part __Emerges as a callow farce—my foot __(I think it’s mine). But art is gone. You’ve put Both muse and model in a tomb of art. And life itself! In this there’s less of life __Than in an empty frame. In nature’s eye It’s death. Go, snap your mahlstock and your knife, Let all your paints be boiled off in the sun, __Then burn the rest. The smoke will join the sky, And you’ll at last make art and nature one. Henrique to Melaka (spoken by Magellan’s navigator, the first man to complete a journey around the Earth) Are you the same Melaka I saw chained __And broken (me in chains as well) as I __Was ripped from you, and charged to wander, pained, A world more filled with people than the sky With stars? How could that be? I’ve not turned back __To scan my shattered past, its mirror shards __Which twist your face—Then are you but her black Reflection in the waves? A slave regards Through eyes made blind with tears, but through a mind __That decades could not darken, chains not bind, __But distance distort. Unfathomed fathoms ranged, He searched the circle sea through stinging eyes for you. You are the same, Melaka. He is changed. __An alien man, with alien eyes, still cries for you. Pisanello to Serafina (spoken by the Rennaissance Italian painter; adapted from the poem “Famagusta”) Me? Who am I? Aha! So Fortune’s smiled __On me again. My “luck” at last runs out. A time there was when I would be reviled __As soon as sighted, or loved by devout Fanatics. Naught between: no speck of bleak __Indifference. I was tossed ‘twixt each extreme, It’s tough to say which worse, or which could wreak __The most of mischief. Sometimes it would seem That both were but the same: Two devils in __Opposing guises, who would take in turns To torture me for complementary sins __With complementary punishments. It burns No more to be by clawing crowds abhorred, I’ve seen, than be by cloying mobs adored. Besides poetry, Daniel Galef also writes fiction, humor, and plays—including the play The Bottomless Pit in the Back Room of Nick’s Speakeasy which premiered at the Théâtre MainLine in Montreal in February directed by Alissa Zilber. Views expressed by individual poets and writers on this website and by commenters do not represent the views of the entire Society. The comments section on regular posts is meant to be a place for civil and fruitful discussion. Pseudonyms are discouraged. The individual poet or writer featured in a post has the ability to remove any or all comments by emailing submissions@ classicalpoets.org with the details and under the subject title “Remove Comment.” Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pinterest (Opens in new window) 5 Responses Joseph S. Salemi June 9, 2019 Surely the speaking character in the third sonnet is not the Renaissance painter Pisanello, but the character Leopoldo Pisanello in Woody Allen’s film “To Rome with Love” — the man who has an affair with his secretary Serafina after he goes from obscurity to fame, and then back again. It would seem that the sonnet is based on this screenplay. Reply Daniel Galef June 10, 2019 Dammit, Salemi, you’ve found me out! I thought I had at least until the annotated edition of my opera omnia was published…. However, the leap from correlation to causation is always a precarious one—why do you assume that my poem is based on the movie, and not the other way around? Reply James A. Tweedie June 9, 2019 Mr. Galef, As always I enjoyed the wit, the insight, and the historically arcane references to little-known characters sharing the thoughts of their hearts to characters even more obscure than they are! And doing it all with free-spirited refinement. I enjoyed this walk down a memory lane of which I had previously had no memory! As an aside not directly related to the poems, it may be technically correct to say that Henrique (and the other surviving members of Magellan’s crew who returned to Portugal) was the first to complete a (single) journey around the earth, But Magellan, himself, is credited with being the first to actually accomplish this feat by virtue of having visited the Philippines on a previous voyage sailing east from Portugal. His death in the Philippines on his final, westward voyage came after having recrossed the latitude he had reached years earlier. Regardless, thanks for the clever, finely honed poems. Reply James A. Tweedie June 9, 2019 I meant, of course, to say, “he had crossed the longitude he had reached years earlier.” Reply David Watt June 10, 2019 Mr. Galef, your background as a playwright is evident in each of these clever pieces. My favorite poem is ‘Gillette to Frenhofer’, as Gillette’s scathing words really hit their mark. 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