Issue 14
Manifesto Three: J. M. W. Turner on the Qualities and Causes of Things

O voi ch’avete l’intelletti sani,
mirate la dottrina che s’asconde
sotto il velame de li versi strani.

                    Inferno, IX, 11. 61-63

Blow into the gallery with a daub of red
lead, then trowel or skip it like a shilling

across the gray waves. Say nothing. They will
write and want to know why paint feels better

and less than the world of trees and seas.

Remind them to rub their pictures
with a very soft silk handkerchief

to remove the blue chill of new varnish.

No one living will love you as you need,
and I am talking about the sturdiest dead

minds you can recall. In this archival state
called heaven, I still insist that light is color

and the world a veil of fanacious poems.
I tell Ruskin every endless day how disappointed

I was to discover that the Sun was not God.
He tells me that the Dean of St. Paul’s refused

to bury me in Carthage, wrapped in a rotted canvas,
and we agree, together, that it is tragic

how the indistinct belongs to God and not to me.