Séraphine de Senlis | A Poem by Titania Starr

Séraphine Louis, L'arbre de Pararadis
Séraphine Louis, L’arbre de Pararadis, Ripolin sur toile, vers 1928-30…….image via Wiki



Séraphine de Senlis


(Seraphine Louis 1864 -1942. French Painter)


Paintings grew out of you like trees.

In glowing light on your knees

You painted each leaf tending over it,

Perfecting it, giving it life,

Singing as you worked, as you painted,

As you planted each tree into the canvas.


The leaves were alive. They had eyes.

They had blood in their veins.

I saw them fluttering about the room,

My room, a century later like butterflies.

Red leaves like feather or flame

Flying through the air birds or fire.


The evenings were yours.

Mixing the alchemic paints,

Turning river reeds and field grasses

Into eye-catching green,

The algae pigment leaves budding

Before your eyes, and those of our Virgin.


Leaves floated from the easel, like in a wind.

My eyes wept. The candles burned.

Hymns splashed from your mouth

Onto the canvas. Into the paints.

The trees grew with the sound of song;

The angels heard it, the trumpets sounded.


From your daytime walks you brought back

The countryside in your eye.

You re-planted each flower in paint;

The white flower like a candle’s halo

Or a saint’s glow. Flowers

Blue with petals like Mary’s garments.


You painted and planted a harvest.

Then the light dimmed, and song ended.

Your thoughts seemed to snap, like twigs.

All the leaves that burned red,

Shone red, now drained of blood.

Your paradisal trees stood shrouded.


© Titania Starr 2010