A Painter and a Poet speak of Serpents

Poets and Painters inspire each other. Mary Oliver’s poetry is my intimate companion. This is a painting about Edisto Island, South Carolina, our small undeveloped barrier island, the last sea island in South Carolina and one that has escaped the developers, so far. Snakes are a large part of Edisto, as it is thick with the jungle brush of native canopy. Charmingly we have a real Serpentarium on the island, built by two brothers, Ted and Heyward Clamp, who capture the healing venom, educate the public about snakes, and provide natural habitat for the reptiles.

And from Wikipedia: “used in a specifically mythic or religious context, snake that is to be regarded not as a mundane natural phenomenon nor as an object of scientific zoology but as the bearer of some potent symbolic value.”

A snake sheds its skin and has a second life. I like that. Here is the marvelous poem from Mary Oliver:

painting by Charlotte Hutson-Wrenn '09

The Black Snake

by Mary Oliver

When the black snake
flashed onto the morning road,
and the truck could not swerve—
death, that is how it happens.

Now he lies hooped and useless
as an old bicycle tire.
I stop the car
and carry him into the bushes.

He is as cool and gleaming
as a braided whip, he is as beautiful and quiet
as a dead brother.
I leave him under the leaves

and drive on, thinking
about death, its suddenness.
its terrible weight,
its certain coming. Yet under

reason burns a brighter fire
which the bones
have always preferred.
It is the story of endless good fortune.
It says to oblivion: not me!

It is the light at the center of every cell.
It is what sent the snake coiling and flowing forward
happily all spring through the green leaves before
he came to the road.

I was called to be an artist. And as an old old midwife said to me "If the Lord wants you to do something, you won't have no good luck' til you do." So, here I am, sharing what I love, longing to illuminate the work of art, which is everywhere.

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Posted in art, beauty, creativity, Green, Poetry, religion, spirituality, Writing
4 comments on “A Painter and a Poet speak of Serpents
  1. kseverny says:

    wow, that poem is so good.
    great message

  2. Diane O'Malley says:

    Oh, Charlotte, your phrase “Charmingly” we have a serpentarium…
    Only you would come up with that word to describe the serpentarium.
    You make me laugh…Love and hugs, Diane

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What’s this?

Welcome to my blog about the Lowcountry of South Carolina, a place proud with beauty, history and art. Sometimes we feel a call, to be, to go, to do. I was called to be an artist, and as an old midwife from Alabama said, “If the good Lord wants you to do something, you won’t have no good luck until you do it.”

So here I am writing about what I know, about the 'under glimmer' as the poet Basho, says, the way I have learned to see, to notice. I am inspired by, and talking about the history and art and culture of this place that has called me to herself. By the ancestors.

My background includes a degree in fine arts from a small private college in Florida, and before that, four years of all girls' boarding school in Asheville. I worked as a professional photographer, helped my children grow up, and now and I love seasoned things, good food, better conversation, beauty, my beloved and beautiful Italian Greyhound, Beau. Moved by the sacred places and stories of this beautiful historic land called the Lowcountry, I am here in spirit and I hope to infect you with my love of this place.

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