Edward Hopper: Sugar Maple, 1938
We poets all seem to love Edward Hopper,
But do all his paintings deserve equal adulation?
The Pomegranate 2016 Edward Hopper Calendar
Informs us that the Hopper of this period,
Having returned from Europe enthusiastic only
About the possibilities of Impressionism. Affirmed,
“I like long shadows and late sunlight . . . I am trying
To paint sunlight without eliminating the form
Under it, if I can.”
But what about the humans for which he is most famous, especially
Women often alone, perhaps staring out a window, or slumped
On the edge of a solitary bed in a sparely furnished room?
White paint occupies about a quarter of this canvas, but
It seems to be just one big cloud with little relation to any
Absent solar source. There are no people or even animals
Represented. I learn little or nothing about the trees’
Surrounding soil, grass, and rocks, except that light and
Shadows create shades of green and yellow leaves,
And, without them,
a trunk simply remains black.
The whole damn scene is pretty blurry. I wouldn’t want
To look at it up close or for too long. And I have no idea
What labor draws the sap from the tree, nor are my
Taste buds stimulated. I am reminded of the Cezanne
Who fell in love with deep structures, as the human factor
Abandoned his very still lifes for the livelier world
Depicted by his friend, contemporary, and, often,
Companion at their easels: Pissarro. And much as I hate to
Admit it; in this period, at least, our greatest American painter
Was not the equal of the Frenchman, Monet.