To Europe’s strand

On my recent writing course at the American Museum in Bath, we were able to go round the museum and look at the artefacts, and one of the areas I liked best was the Folk Art room. The paintings were wonderful, and I visited that room several times, and was allowed to take some photos.

I don’t know all the artists, and I don’t know if Thomas Cole had any of his works on display; Cole was a great friend of the poet, William Cullen Bryant, and they often went walking together  in the Catskills Mountains. Cole was a great landscape painter, and Bryant was a writer and poet. Cole was born in Bolton-le-Moors, in Lancashire, in 1801; his family emigrated to America when he was eighteen and they eventually settled in Ohio. It was a great loss and he must have been greatly mourned when he died in 1848, only forty-seven years old.

I shared a sonnet by William Cullen Bryant a little while ago, here is one addressed to his friend Thomas:

To an American Painter Departing for Europe

Thine eyes shall see the light of distant skies:
Yet, Cole! thy heart shall bear to Europe’s strand
A living image of thy native land,
Such as on thy own glorious canvass lies.
Lone lakes–savannahs where the bison roves–
Rocks rich with summer garlands–solemn streams–
Skies, where the desert eagle wheels and screams–
Spring bloom and autumn blaze of boundless groves
Fair scenes shall greet thee where thou goest–
fair,But different–every where the trace of men,
Paths, homes, graves, ruins, from the lowest glen
To where life shrinks from the fierce Alpine air.
Gaze on them, till the tears shall dim thy sight,
But keep that earlier, wilder image bright.

William Cullen Bryant

My featured image, by the way was painted by Cole in 1836, The Oxbow – The Connecticut River near Northampton


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