Pure Poetry - How Poetry can Inspire Art

Red Earth, mixed media on canvas, 24 x 18, 2014
Red Earth, mixed media on canvas, 24 x 18, 2014

I ran across this poem by Alice Corbin, an accomplished poet who moved with her artist-husband William Penhallow Henderson to New Mexico in 1916. This poem, Red Earth, is part of a collection of her poetry, "Red Earth: Poems of New Mexico," celebrating New Mexico's native peoples, customs and landscapes.  The poem, reproduced here, was the inspiration for this painting by the same name.  


Red Earth by Alice Corbin


This valley is not ours, nor these mountains,

Nor the names we give them – they belong,

They, and this sweep of sun-washed air,

Desert and hill and crumbling earth,

To those who have lain here long years

And felt the soak of the sun

Through the red sand and crumbling rock,

Till even their bones were part of the sun-steeped valley;

How many years we know not, nor what names

They gave to antelope, wolf, or bison,

To prairie dog or coyote,

To this hill where we stand,

Or the moon over your shoulder…..

Let us build a monument to Time

That knows all, sees all, and contains all,

To whom these bones in the valley are even as we are;

Even Time’s monument would crumble

Before the face of Time,

And be as these white bones
Washed clean and bare by the sun….


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