Academic journal article The Hudson Review

Reading Ruskin in Los Angeles

Academic journal article The Hudson Review

Reading Ruskin in Los Angeles

Article excerpt

For my grandfather, Bernhard Einzig (1874-1945), who died in a German concentration camp at Theresienstadt. His books, a three-volume set of the 1902 edition of The Stones of Venice by John Ruskin, are my only tangible inheritance.

The sun at its low winter zenith

lights up the crosshatched pane,

the white curving fern, fossil-like,

that might be an angry boy's knife etching,

or painter's clumsy scratching at the spills

and splashings of a makeshift paint job.

Beyond the pane, a duller gleaming,

drooping green acanthus leaves,

symbol once, in Christian art, of heaven,

before that, classic curlicue of Greek

and Roman art and architecture. Inside,

a patch of sun pools on taut silk,

old table lamp, red shade

faded to brown, long uneven drift

of fringes also edged with light,

cocked slightly, like a languorous

woman with an age-old question,

at dusk, a jaded invitation.

Lamp, windowpane, and tree,

made things, all, by God or man,

or woman, pulled together by the sun,

my eye, my place. …

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