Haibun Today

A Quarterly Journal
Jeffrey Woodward, Editor
Volume 5, Number 2, June 2011

Jeffrey Woodward
Detroit, Michigan, USA


Green Apples, 1873

to tame the tempest
of youthful grandeur and
Romantic excess
let the new motif be bland—
a handful of green apples

what other
than green will do
to signify
the true temper and hue
of everlasting spring

let the apple be
what it was or is
once smuggled from
the precincts of
a hidden garden

it has the color, too,
of a hard but glorious
and dry midsummer
not for the time being sweet
but frankly firm and sour

With Camille Pissarro, at Pointoise, and with Hortense Fiquet, also, Cézanne spent that turbulent spring and burning summer after the annus horribilis of the Paris Commune—with the older painter and decided anarchist Pissarro as master on those plein air expeditions, with Hortense and his now-toddling Paul safely concealed from the prying eyes of the domineering father Louis-Auguste, moneyed milliner and banker.

Would not Papa, who did not approve of his painting, discontinue his promised monthly grace of 200 francs, just as he'd once threatened—would not Papa do so, should Hortense and little Paul be discovered?

In good weather, into the meadows then for that daylong adventure with old Pissarro and oils and brushes, and in the evenings, home to the bliss of a young mistress and son, and on the odd days when it might rain, arranged carefully on a table for the still-life study, green apples.


First published in Modern English Tanka V3, N1 (Autumn 2008).

This work is based upon Cezanne's Pommes verte, 1873, found here: Pommes verte.

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