isobel 08 last version.jpg

'Come back to tell you all, I shall tell you all', 2019 

(oil on board, 35 x 30 cm) 

The title for this painting comes from ‘The Lovesong of J. Alfred Prufrock’ By T.S Eliot (1915): 

 

‘And would it have been worth it, after all,

After the cups, the marmalade, the tea,

Among the porcelain, among some talk of you and me,

Would it have been worth while,

To have bitten off the matter with a smile,

To have squeezed the universe into a ball

To roll it towards some overwhelming question,

To say: “I am Lazarus, come from the dead,

Come back to tell you all, I shall tell you all”—

If one, settling a pillow by her head

               Should say: “That is not what I meant at all;

               That is not it, at all.”’ 

I went into my basement dining room one evening after putting the cat in the kitchen and there was a reflection of light on the shiny table from the streetlamps outside - like a spotlight on a dark stage. As I was looking at it I thought about how beautiful and affecting something so simple could be and thought about how now in a more secular culture natural signs or magnificent things that might have once denoted a spiritual presence are not listened to or thought of as significant or anything more than streetlight. 

 

It is thought that Eliot is not referring in the poem to the better-known Lazarus who is resurrected but rather another Lazarus in the bible who wants to come back to life to tell his sinful relatives to be kinder so they can be rewarded in heaven. And I thought that if that light was Lazarus come to warn me and I wasn’t listening then that was sad. The rhyme and musical cadence of the poem helped this remembering. 

isobel 08 last version.jpg
isobel 08 last version.jpg
isobel 08 last version.jpg