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About this Poem 

“Weir Farm National Historic Site is the legacy of American Impressionist painter J. Alden Weir and his family and circle. Designed and preserved by artists, Weir Farm is the only national park dedicated to American painting and to the rediscovery of the beauty of light and color in everyday life.”
—Marilyn Nelson

Weir Farm

Not vistas, but a home-sized landscape,
beloved rooms storied, painted, lived.
A farm bought with a painting
and a ten dollar personal check.
And almost from the beginning,
the intention to pass on
what an artist sees, what artists make.
A parcel of land, a vast legacy.

Admire the houses, barns, outbuildings,
and studios, uniformly Venetian red.
Respect the visible sweat work of stones
laid in walls and foundations, terraces and walks.
Admire the sunken garden, the wildflower meadows,
the path through thick woods to the fishing pond.
Walk through the farm envisioned by artists.
Admire the home artists made.

Or you can step from a museum’s polished floor
across a carven, gilded threshold
into the farm reimagined in brushstrokes.
From that wooden bridge over there,
hear those three women’s tinkling laughter?
Over there the other way, see
the black dog panting near the youngish man
lifting stones into a half-built wall?

Step out of the frame again, and be
enveloped in birdsong and dapple.
Feel the welcome of small particulars:
the grove beside that boulder,
the white horse tied in front of that barn.
With eyes made tender, see
those elms, from shadows on the grass
to the highest leaves’ shimmer.

With your friends, lovers, family, stride
across this chromatic broken brushwork.
Sit a minute at the granite picnic table
with the artist’s daughters, dressed in summer white.
You can daub this earth, so lyric, so gentle,
from the limited palette of your own love right now.
Any place you care for can hold an easel.
Everything around you is beautiful plein air.

 

Copyright © 2016 by Marilyn Nelson. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on November 1, 2016, this poem was commissioned by the Academy of American Poets and funded by a National Endowment for the Arts Imagine Your Parks grant.

Copyright © 2016 by Marilyn Nelson. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on November 1, 2016, this poem was commissioned by the Academy of American Poets and funded by a National Endowment for the Arts Imagine Your Parks grant.

Marilyn Nelson

Marilyn Nelson

Born in 1946, Marilyn Nelson is the author of over eight books of poetry, as well as many collections of verse for children and young adults. She currently serves as a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets.

by this poet

poem

Sisterhood of the Good Death, Bahia, Brazil
August 14, ca. 1850

Tomorrow, after we’ve led the procession
following Our Lady of the Good Death
back to our chapel, two hundred Sisters,
in our white eyelet headwraps and dresses
and the company of the Ancestors,
will dance a

poem
We slept, woke, breakfasted, and met the man
we’d hired as a tour guide, with a van
and driver, for the day. We were to drive
to Cachoeira, where the sisters live:
the famous Sisterhood of the Good Death,
founded by former slaves in the nineteenth
century. "Negroes of the Higher Ground," 
they called themselves
poem
Pleasant Smith, 1837

Joseph, Alonzo, Neptune, Truss, and me
lit out under a sky paling towards dawn
yesterday, to trek on down into town
and take our places in the national economy.

Because times are tough all over, poverty
and unemployment rife. Who can compete
with immigrants who’ll work for a bite