Before Words

Before Time – mixed media on canvas – 30 x 24″

Both on the canvas and on the page, immersed in colour and texture, tone and feelings, words and imagery, I find myself coming home to a place I didn’t know existed before I became immersed in it all.

And then…. I read the news and must find my way back to that place where I find myself grounded in the darkness and the light, the ugly and the beautiful, the intolerable and the harmony.

This morning, I read the news. Story after story of unease and confusion and injustice and racism and phobias too unbearable to name, deaths too heavy to endure, history to unbearable to uncover.

And the muse pushes me to write it out. To name it. Feel it. Know it. See it. Bear it. Even when the words are too dark to see or feel too heavy to bear in the dim light cast by the news. To write it out and bear witness to it all so that in all of it, the mystery, the awe, the ineffable beauty of life can shine through.

In keeping with the Before Time poem from yesterday, this morning’s poem is titled, “Before Words”. (and the painting is the finished version of yesterday’s share.)

Before Words
by Louise Gallagher

Before words
man had no name
for who he was
or who the others were
who shared this human 
state
without a name.

Without a name
he could not name
the things he saw
that were the same
yet different
and lived within the mystery
of the world
for which he had no name.

And then words came
and labelled all that man was
all that man created
all that man did
as wanted/unwanted
beautiful/ugly
funny/sad
curious/dreaded
intriguing/frightening
right/wrong
us/them.

And in the naming of it all
man became black or white
dark/light
rich/poor
believer/nonbeliever
love/hate.


And in the names
man called 'them'
there were no words
to label the things he did not
understand
or know
and so he named them all
The Other.

There was no room
for the others
who did not fit into man’s tidy
labels
designed to keep the others
out
until fear grew 
wild
hatred flourished 
fierce
and man became
the one 
to fear the most.

About the artwork: When I began this painting it was an overpainting of an old piece that did not please me. It was going to be flowers and then, the evolution of time began to unfold and this is what appeared.

8 thoughts on “Before Words

  1. That’s a beautiful piece of work – the painting, and that poem stands up too!

    Before there was anything we call modern or sophisticated, humans made art to tell stories – then words were invented. We need both. Keep making both.

    m

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I second Mark’s comments! Art and words, in their own right, present stories and the recipient interprets each as their imagination allows. Art and words combined are slightly different for the creator actually helps the recipient onto a path of interpretation closer to the creator’s original intent.

    Liked by 1 person

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