What a slothy notion!
Monet, if he had thought that, would not have painted —
Neither the everyday woman with her full-blown parasol, nor
the purple irises, sun-streaked pink in his Giverny garden.
Not even France’s purest Nymphaea would know his brush
had he dismissed his art because great painters preceded him.
Then, as matter habitually does, Monet’s countryside would die
And slip unappreciated into oblivion, like summertime fields with
Bonneted girls playing amidst wild red flowers. Or like
a wintery gateway that goes untouched by snow plow.
Each season is — now as then — a time when
the countryside recreates itself,
as if it must, to keep our interest . . . Or
as if it has never known long-lasting love.
But because it does, neither Monet nor the lily loses purpose,
And each time they meet, they bring something new into focus,
something indeterminate and pleasurable posed there by chance:
Lilies in shadows, and lilies in light . . . Lilies
like a secret order keeping artists relevant.
And if you asked him, as one day you may, Monet will probably say:
Not for the sake of the thing, but for the love and the learning,
Do it, as if it has never been done before.