England Haikus 16 and 17: Winston Spencer Churchill I and II

2014/1874

Blenheim I find coarse,
Not the fact here sprang this (last?)
Epic tale made flesh.

blenheim palace

1916

Shockingly fragile
He flounders in wilderness
Pre-apotheosis.

This outstanding portrait of Churchill by the Irish war artist Sir William Orpen (1878-1931), which inspired the second haiku here, has only been on public view since 2012. It is currently showing as part of the National Portrait Gallery’s Great War in Portraits exhibition. Churchill apparently regarded this as the finest portrait of himself and regarded it as the ‘not the picture of a man (but) picture of a man’s soul’.

It came at possibly the nadir of his life, having been forced to resign from the Government after the trauma and ignominy of the Gallipoli campaign. Churchill may be have been officially exonerated for his part in proceedings as First Lord of the Admirality but in this picture he looks like a man who knows he has messed up and who has nowhere to run and hide. This in turn seems to magnify the ‘epic’ connotations of his life, in particular, of course, his extraordinary dual role as redeemed and saviour between 1940-45.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s