Tuesday, March 16, 2010


My buddy and good pal John Bertrand is having another illustrating contest! This is the third contest he's hosted since the first and this time there is a twist ~ it's a POEM ... designing a book cover for a collection of poems of which The Eel by Eugenio Montale is supposed to be the main feature. This is hard - how does one illustrate something so abstract?! But I like the poem so I am going to give it a try.

The Eel

The eel, siren
of cold seas, who leaves
the Baltic for our seas,
our estuaries, rivers, rising
deep beneath the downstream flood
from branch to branch, from twig to smaller twig,
ever more inward,
bent on the heart of rock,
infiltrating muddy
rills until one day
light glancing off the chestnuts
fires her flash
in stagnant pools,
in the ravines cascading down
the Apennine escarpments to Romagna;
eel, torch, whip lash,
arrow of Love on earth,
whom only our gullies
or dessicated Pyrenean brooks lead back
to Edens of generation;
green spirit seeking life
where only drought and desolation sting;
spark that says that everything begins
when everything seems charcoal,
buried stump;
brief rainbow, iris,
twin to the one your lashes frame
and you set shining virginal among
the sons of men, sunk in your mire -
can you fail to see her as a sister?

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