Under a dull winter sky, we long for red. 
Oh Dress Muse, sing to me of red!

Sing to me of the reds of Matisse!  Oh especially of Henri Matisse.

"Paiphae, Chant de Minos (1944) is  a contemporary retelling of the myth of Pasephae and the Minoan bull by Henri de Montherlant. It is the story of the hapless Pasephae who, as a punishment to her husband by an angry god, gives birth to the half-bull half-human Minos.   "For each scene, Matisse selects a favorite phrase from de Motherlant's texts and interpreted it in several different ways. True to his style, the images respond not to the tale's tragedy but to universal themes of passion, feminine beauty and love." 

Rosamond Bernier, in her memoir, Some of my Lives, describes Matisse's struggle to create the balance and proportion required for the page:  
"What to do so that the heavy black lines used to illustrate the poem did not pull down the rather empty page of text? His solution was to make one margin surrounding both pages, and then to accentuate the text on each page by making the top letter red. He said when he had seen the first proofs, in which red had not been used, he found the result ‘a little funereal.’ The red made the balance he was seeking.”

That page, so perfectly composed and balanced and poignant and so...evocative is one of the most moving and beautiful things I've ever seen. That square of red is at once deeply spiritual and intensely physical.  

How can I not strive for that beauty in my own life?

It is about balance: dark and light, text and illustration, space and form.   It is energy and verve.

Red is longing. Red is desire.  Orhan Pamuk tells us, "Inside my body is a soul, a meaning, that all things were made of desire, touch, and love..."

I want to think on red things. It is early March and I am impatient for the next season, for objects of my desire: geraniums, and long bicycle rides, vegetable gardens, and outside suppers on warm evenings and  

all pleasures of Spring.

 January and February I become introspect and time becomes still. I read Proust. I wrap myself in layers of clothes and luxuriate in black and grays.  Despite my busy days, winter is a journey inward.

Then there is March and something shifts, stirring a discontent, signaling growth.

My dark clothes that seemed so elegant in November seem “funereal” now and the square of red, that small flag, signals to me that life changes, a different passion stirs.

Spring is coming!

And I can't wait to wear red leather sandals with white chinos.  Tomato toes in the summer sand.  A red handbag to ground an eyelet dress, much like a square of red on a soft white page.

Winter is still here, but just.


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