LaFarge & Berkeley : Paradise Alley

... & then inevitable as autumn comes the earthbound coda for both dreamer-visionaries (John LaFarge, George Berkeley).


In Paradise Valley, the two legs of the ridge 
stretch toward the bay – and then the bay widens
in a V (of blues, pinks, grays) to the horizon, 
and the open sea. Perihelion for LaFarge

to the very edge – the brilliant window – of his art: 
light surging through stained panes:
Church of the Ascension. Then he declines.
On earth, not Paradise.  And the hurt

remains.  Irascible, he painted out his wife 
with a second coat of mistresses.
A mind so subtle, restless,
shipwrecked in Butler Sanitarium.  Grief

at the end (after such glory).
The faint wash of surf, the distant 
rose of New Orleans Mardi Gras lent 
sad wedding music.  Newport memory.

Earth calls its own with stony wisdom.
Berkeley stalled – but truth was undeniable. 
Sailed home at last.  Bequeathed the lowly stubble 
of the search to Harvard, Yale (the kingdom

of his books).  His green-eyed vision
of a stubborn Oxford, or Bermuda Trinity 
came true somehow – so scholarly
these artless rude colonials! – legion

with universities!  And in the silence
of the library, some fresh intrepid Blackstone 
sniffs out the mazy law – no stone unturned, 
she formulates a bluenosed jurisprudence.

Gate to Butler Sanitarium, Providence

Paradise Valley

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