In Xanadu did Kubla Khan A stately pleasure-dome decree: Where Alph, the sacred river, ran Through caverns measureless to man Down to a sunless sea. So twice five miles of fertile ground With walls and towers were girdled round; And there were gardens bright with sinuous rills, Where blossomed many an incense-bearing tree; And here were forests ancient as the hills, Enfolding sunny spots of greenery.
But oh! that deep romantic chasm which slanted Down the green hill athwart a cedarn cover! A savage place! as holy and enchanted As e’er beneath a waning moon was haunted By woman wailing for her demon-lover! And from this chasm, with ceaseless turmoil seething, As if this earth in fast thick pants were breathing, A mighty fountain momently was forced: Amid whose swift half-intermitted burst Huge fragments vaulted like rebounding hail, Or chaffy grain beneath the thresher’s flail: And mid these dancing rocks at once and ever It flung up momently the sacred river. Five miles meandering with a mazy motion Through wood and dale the sacred river ran, Then reached the caverns measureless to man, And sank in tumult to a lifeless ocean; And ’mid this tumult Kubla heard from far Ancestral voices prophesying war! The shadow of the dome of pleasure Floated midway on the waves; Where was heard the mingled measure From the fountain and the caves. It was a miracle of rare device, A sunny pleasure-dome with caves of ice!
A damsel with a dulcimer In a vision once I saw: It was an Abyssinian maid And on her dulcimer she played, Singing of Mount Abora. Could I revive within me Her symphony and song, To such a deep delight ’twould win me, That with music loud and long, I would build that dome in air, That sunny dome! those caves of ice! And all who heard should see them there, And all should cry, Beware! Beware! His flashing eyes, his floating hair! Weave a circle round him thrice, And close your eyes with holy dread For he on honey-dew hath fed, And drunk the milk of Paradise.
I grab my pencils, mostly old and blunt, scramble for a sharpener, my sketchbook then connect to Zoom run hands through unruly hair, so long now in lockdown, clean my glasses with my clothes.
The class begins. This week it’s Maxine from Greece, his lithe body first reaching and arching upwards back turned coyly to the camera we have ten minutes only to capture the length and proportion of limbs, that pert bottom, not that I notice it, the way every knee has a front, a face and it must be drawn right. Use the light and shadows to give heft and bulk, says our tutor in Germany, embolden key lines to make your drawing stand out.
The pose changes, now he drapes himself across a chair one leg stretching out to the lens and I grimace at the challenge of foreshortening making his leg look as if it is coming out of my page I try to see the shapes, the curve of his torso here a triangle of negative space there how his knee is on the same level as his nose.
All too soon, Maxime bids his farewells as we clap then we show our various efforts to each other. After each class, I am always tired drained with the effort of trying to achieve a human body on my grubby page.
With eyes that cannot meet mine you appear meek, yet she who breathed life in you was out for the kill I am stuck frigid as you held by your harsh metallic lines and wrinkles pegged down suspended stopped