Published on Academy of American Poets (https://poets.org)


Art Class

Let us begin with a simple line,
Drawn as a child would draw it, 
To indicate the horizon,

More real than the real horizon,
Which is less than line,
Which is visible abstraction, a ratio.

The line ravishes the page with implications
Of white earth, white sky!

The horizon moves as we move, 
Making us feel central.
But the horizon is an empty shell—

Strange radius whose center is peripheral.
As the horizon draws us on, withdrawing, 
The line draws us in, 

Requiring further lines, 
Engendering curves, verticals, diagonals,
Urging shades, shapes, figures…

What should we place, in all good faith,
On the horizon? A stone?
An empty chair? A submarine?

Take your time. Take it easy. 
The horizon will not stop abstracting us.

Credit


From Resurrection Updated: Collected Poems 1975-1997 by James Galvin. Copyright © 1997 by James Galvin. Reprinted by permission of Copper Canyon Press.

Author


James Galvin

The author of several collections of poetry, James Galvin's book Resurrection Update: Collected Poems 1975-1997 was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Award and the Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize

Date Published: 1997-01-01

Source URL: https://poets.org/poem/art-class