Friday 24 June 2011

Sunset over the Ice

The older I get, the more I realize how small the world really is.  I realize how we are all interconnected and that what happens on one side of the world can affect the other side of the world.  For instance, many people have heard of the volcano Krakatoa that exploded in August of 1883 on the Asian continent.  But how many  have heard of a painting called "Sunset over the Ice on Chaumont Bay, Lake Ontario" painted by Frederic Church in North America in December of 1883? 

Believe it or not, the volcano and the painting are directly related.  Krakatoa's explosion had many after effects including four tsunamis that killed 30,000 people and submerged hundreds of towns in sea water.  The dust that Krakatoa pumped into the air found its way across the ocean to North America where it hovered for months, affecting weather patterns everywhere.  In fact, Simon Winchester writes in his book Krakatoa that on one occasion the fire department of one town in New York state saw an orange ball across the Hudson river, jumped into their fire trucks and headed across the bridge, only to find out that it wasn't a fire they saw, but a sunset.  It was this type of sunset that Frederic Church painted on a beautiful evening over Lake Ontario. 

Here is the poem that I wrote inspired by Krakatoa's eruption and Church's famous painting.


It’s called “Sunset over the Ice”,
Painted by Frederic Church one day.
Its beauty came with a high price
As twilight came to Chaumont Bay.

Monkeys ran amok in the heat.
An elephant ransacked a room.
A crocodile took to the streets.
All followed by a giant boom.

Echoes reached Rodriguez Island.
Sonic waves rippled France’s sea.
Skulls washed up in Zanzibar’s sand
One day in 1883.

What caused the sunset’s afterglow?
Krakatoa’s dust made it so.

Frederic Church's "Sunset over the Ice on Chaumont Bay, Lake Ontario" courtesy

1 comment:

  1. Linda, I've just come back from the South Pacific - mainly visiting volcanoes in New Zealand including an active marine volcano on White Island whose creation is similar to the forces that created Krakatoa and Anak Krakatau [Child of Krakatoa] now looming. I remember reading about Church's painting years ago and just googled it and found your poem that I enjoyed immensely.