Normality Is A Paved Road

“Normality is a paved road: It’s comfortable to walk, but no flowers grow on it.”
Vincent Van Gogh

 
 

Series: Study For a Portrait of Van Gogh, Francis Bacon, 1957

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Sunflowers, Not Facing the Sun

Photo by Robert Doisneau, circa 1960

 
 

“I stand tall
As gracious as one could be
Blooming to my best
As slender as it touches my being
Everyone else is facing the sun
Bending towards its unfathomable galore
They and I are both undoubtedly
Grown on the benevolence of life’s essence
The brighter side mercilessly feeding desires unbound
By daunting the “courage to know” with each spin
Though, I am not able to face the sun the way they do
Yet, I learn from the knowledge bred within me
Beyond achievement markers, but an adverse ability
An opportunity to exercise my special self
From the cherubic attire of my blessed soul
To the unfathomable mystery the drape of this world hides
That I, by not facing the sun
Hunt the gems in the milieu of the human existence”

Annie Ali

Empathetic Portrayal of Women

Tournesol (Sunflower), Photograph by Edouard Boubat, 1985

 
 

《苦相篇》

苦相身為女
卑陋難再陳
男兒當門戶
墮地自生神
雄心志四海
萬里望風塵
女育無欣愛
不為家所珍
長大逃深室
藏頭羞見人
垂淚適他鄉
忽如雨絕雲
低頭和顏色
素齒結朱脣
跪拜無復數
婢妾如嚴賓
情合同雲漢
葵藿仰陽春
心乖甚水火
百惡集其身
玉顏隨年變
丈夫多好新
昔為形與影
今為胡與秦
胡秦時相見
一絕踰參辰

傅玄

 
 

___________________________

 
 

WOMAN

“How sad it is to be a woman!!
Nothing on earth is held so cheap.
Boy stand leaning at the door
Like Gods fallen out of Heaven.
Their hearts brave the Four Oceans,
The wind and dust of a thousand miles.
No one is glad when a girl is born:
By her the family sets no store.
When she grows up, she hides in her room
Afraid to look at a man in the face.
No one cries when she leaves her home —
Sudden as clouds when the rain stops.
She bows her head and composes her face,
Her teeth are pressed on her red lips:
She bows and kneels countless times.
She must humble herself even to the servants.
His love is distant as the stars in Heaven,
Yet the sunflower bends towards the sun.
Their hearts are more sundered than water and fire–
A hundred evils are heaped upon her.
Her face will follow the years changes:
Her lord will find new pleasures.
They that were once like the substance and shadow
Are now as far from Hu as from Ch’in [two distant places]
Yet Hu and Ch’in shall sooner meet
That they whose parting is like Ts’an and Ch’en [two stars]”

Fu Xuan (傅玄)

 
 

Fu Xuan (217–278) was a politician, scholar, writer, and poet during the period from the Cao Wei to Western Jin Dynasty and was one of the most prolific authors of fu poetry of his era. He was the grandson of Fu Xie (傅燮), the son of Fu Gan (傅幹), and the father of Fu Xian (傅咸). Fu Xuan’s poems, primarily in the yuefu style, are noted for their powerful and empathetic portrayals of women.

The Roads to Freedom

Autorretrato dentro de un girasol (Self-Portrait Inside a Sunflower), Frida Kahlo, 1954

 
 

“The new country lay open before me: there were no fences in those days, and I could choose my own way over the grass uplands, trusting the pony to get me home again. Sometimes I followed the sunflower-bordered roads. Fuchs told me that the sunflowers were introduced into that country by the Mormons; that at the time of the persecution when they left Missouri and struck out into the wilderness to find a place where they could worship God in their own way, the members of the first exploring party, crossing the plains to Utah, scattered sunflower seeds as they went. The next summer, when the long trains of wagons came through with all the women and children, they had a sunflower trail to follow. I believe that botanists do not confirm Jake’s story but, insist that the sunflower was native to those plains. Nevertheless, that legend has stuck in my mind, and sunflower-bordered roads always seem to me the roads to freedom.”

Willa Cather
My Ántonia
1918

The Flower of the Giver-of-Life

Desnudo con girasoles (Nude with Sunflowers), Diego Rivera, 1946

 
 

AZTEC FLOWER SONG

Be indomitable, Oh my heart!
Love only the sunflower;
It is the flower of the Giver-of-Life!
What can my heart do?
Have we come, have we sojourned here on earth in vain?
As the flowers wither, I shall go.
Will there be nothing of my glory ever?
Will there be nothing of my fame on earth?
At most songs, at most flowers,
What can my heart do?
Have we come, have we sojourned on earth in vain?

Anonymous

(Pre-Columbian)