Sunday 9 February 2014

Day 568: Lovers in Blue


Today I'm posting a beautiful poem by an up-and-coming Irish poet on the theme of unending love.  In it, the poet speaks in the voice of the artist Marc Chagall, regarding the loss over his true love, his wife and soulmate Bella, who died many years before he did. 

Chagall's paintings have earned the terms 'dreamy' and 'romantic' maybe most of all because of his lovers series, where he paints  Bella and himself in various degrees of happiness - mostly flying, over towns, cities, fields - flying and floating, lifted up by love. Admirers of his work have remarked how his paintings show exactly what love is meant to feel like. (You can see a selection of these paintings here and decide for yourself).

This poem not only succeeds in referencing Chagall's work fittingly, but also in something rare - capturing the feeling of true love simply, and sincerely.


Bella - Noel Duffy

'Her silences are my silences, her eyes, my eyes. 
It is as if Bella had known me forever, as if she knew
all my childhood, all my present, all my future.' 
                                                                                           - Ma Vie, Marc Chagall

Now that I'm too old to hold a brush,
I paint you again each morning with words:
Double Portrait With Wine Glass,
Bella With Carnation, The Lover's Bouquet...

My mind is filled with colour still;
with each stroke you are there again, my bride
lying on our crimson bed, our wedding night.
Things have changed. You wouldn't like it much.

The green violinist now grumbles
into his prayer book, has retired to an old
people's home in the suburb, refuses
to play me a tune on his purple fiddle.

Lovers no longer fly over fields or church spires,
milk cows in their Sunday best, go to the circus -
but still I keep them alive, the images.
I have been cursed, my love, with long life,

you dead now more than forty summers.
The old grandfather clock has finally stopped,
your absence no longer measured
by its metronome, the slow arm of loss.

I count the silent hours till I give up
the ghost. You stand before me,
again My Fiancée With Black Gloves.
My soul is vivid blue. It will know you.

© Noel Duffy, from In The Library of Lost Objects (2011, Ward Wood Publishing)


  1. Thank you for introducing me to Noel Duffy! I love this poem. And, though I'm drawn to Chagall's paintings, never knew that history. Ah.

    1. Hi Imelda, thanks for commenting! Yes, he writes the loveliest poems. You can find more on his website:

      Yes, it's so sad isn't it. They were so in love. He started using the deep blue colour he's famous for after Bella died - to express his grief.


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