Object Ennui, painting by Walter Sickert (1917-18)
Gallery63 Sickert and his Contemporaries
The scene’s mundane, banal; love’s at an end
In this drab room
Whose sickly décor wears the ochre hues
Of autumn’s fading.
Here we view this man, this woman,
Studiously absent from each other’s gaze,
Reiterating their thoughts’ tormented libretti
As the room plays and replays
Its sullen symphony of brown.
SHE: We thought love star-begotten, angel-blest,
Needless of nurture: lovers’ grained-in fault;
And so we squandered starlight unconfessed,
Smudged its bright promise to this yellowed vault
Where, joined but separate in the artist’s eye,
We thank our stars there’s nothing left alive to die.
HE: My gaze aspires to space’s lightless vault,
Aches for the joy of universal dark,
Thinks to oblivion all that was my fault
In snuffing, quenching, love’s defenceless spark.
The artist’s palette paints our lives to brown,
But cannot limn the void where, lost and deep, we drown.