“soapsuds and whitewash”

J.M.W. Turner: Painting Set Free
Getty Center

J.M.W. Turner
Snow Storm—Steam-Boat off a Harbour's Mouth
oil on canvas
exhibited 1842


But weak is change, but strengthless time,
To take the light from heaven, or climb
    The hills of heaven with wasting feet.
    Songs they can stop that earth found meet,
But the stars keep their ageless rhyme;
    Flowers they can slay that spring thought sweet,
But the stars keep their spring sublime;
    Passions and pleasures can defeat,
Actions and agonies control,
And life and death, but not the soul.

Because man’s soul is man’s God still,
What wind soever waft his will
    Across the waves of day and night
    To port or shipwreck, left or right,
By shores and shoals of good and ill;
    And still its flame at mainmast height
Through the rent air that foam-flakes fill
    Sustains the indomitable light
Whence only man hath strength to steer
Or helm to handle without fear.

Save his own soul’s light overhead,
None leads him, and none ever led,
    Across birth’s hidden harbour-bar,
    Past youth where shoreward shallows are,
Through age that drives on toward the red
    Vast void of sunset hailed from far,
To the equal waters of the dead;
    Save his own soul he hath no star,
And sinks, except his own soul guide,
Helmless in middle turn of tide.

No blast of air or fire of sun
Puts out the light whereby we run
    With girded loins our lamplit race,
    And each from each takes heart of grace
And spirit till his turn be done,
    And light of face from each man’s face
In whom the light of trust is one;
    Since only souls that keep their place
By their own light, and watch things roll,
And stand, have light for any soul.

Swinburne’s “Prelude”


J.M.W. Turner being the question, J.A.M. Whistler is the answer (friend of Monet).


J.M.W. Turner
Norham Castle, Sunrise
oil on canvas
about 1845