Charles E. Burchfield (1893-1967), Untitled (Clump of Purple Trees), October 1915; watercolor and graphite on paper, 13 1/2 x 19 1/2 inches; Burchfield Penney Art Center, Gift of Tony Sisti, 1979
Charles E. Burchfield, Journals, Vol. 21, October 22-23, 1914
Saturday, October 22, 2016
Oct 22, 1914
A fairy morning.
Up at 8:00 To School thru Wade Park. A heavy dew – looking sunwards the bristling sward is sparkling white — trees misshapen masses of white haze — workmen at a sewer black objects haze blurred — woods in a red purple haze — faint warble mutter¬ings.
To cut — or no? That troubled me at first but finally with a light heart I hastened to my room to secure sketchbook. On way I pause on a lane edging the bluff above Doan creek to see a crow which I had heard in the stream bed. At my approach it flew up, pursued by another. Rapidly weaving in and out among the purple hazed trees, they fade into the distance.
Coming back I sit down on Goethe & Schiller Monument to sketch. The course of the slight breeze is marked by a slanting shower of sun-sparkled whirligig leaves. The air is full of the cricket-like chisel chipping from the new Art Museum; a chickadee’s lisping whistle — a roar of a train; men aimlessly strolling thru the part – a squirrel with many abrupt tail snapping and statuesque alertness waves along over the leafy ground.
The soft leaves float down like a sparkle of yellow butterflies against a September sky. Nothing has quite so keen a sense of fun as a fallen leaf says Barrie. With what riotous joy they pursue an auto down the lane!
October woods — a sparkling splotch of orange against the blue.
The shadows of falling leaves rushing toward me on the green grass!
At noon Bob & I plan our menu for our walk Sunday. Bob gives me Ingersoll’s “Why I am an agnostic” On reading the opening paragraphs, I find it tallies with what I have long thought. My sense of freedom comes in upon me more today than for some time. As long as I can remember I always had a hatred of much of [Christianity erased] formal religion. To go forth into life free of superstition, faith, Christian [illegible words erased] dogma — to look at nature with an innocent mind — how else can one see its beauty? Thus life is becoming more sublime each day. The novelty of casting away of my “chains,” tho it is so long ago I cannot remember when, has not yet worn off. My salvation is that I think neither of [god erased] God or eternity. The present! The past & the future are alike nothing.
To Austin’s for supper. On way Austin & I have a discussion of Christianity. His life must always be a lie, hypocrisy; for he has [illegible word erased] discarded from his mind the [illegible word erased] formalistic principals of Christianity yet, lacking sufficient strength of character, must go on professing a belief in it. Or is he “agnostic” only in my company, Christian in the next man’s?
After supper music on Victrola. Three selections from Wagner. He affects me as does no other composer. The effect comes afterwards. It takes me away; I am not normal. Music is to me the most stirring & emotional of all man’s arts. Music could rule my actions — make me lie, cheat, murder, arouse my passion to ungovernable heights — is it weakness to feel so? Or is the composer strong? Yet music inspires none of these, only the thought that it could do so.
Oct 23, 1914
About the middle of the night a cold icy wind awoke me and I lay for some time drinking it in.
A wonderful cool windy day — wind from south cast driving the sunshine – sparkleflakes! – before it. The sky was a fairyland of cobwebby, whispy white mists. What spontaneous joy in the leaves whirling and eddying over the earth, repeating the currents seen in the breeze-sifted sky above.
Kaiser speaks of Travis as being “fresh” — that is “new”. After school Bob & I an argument on Christianity with Travis.
Travis over for evening to work.
Just finished reading Ingersoll’s “Why I am an Agnostic” His joy at his freedom is like my own or rather vice versa. The world is more beautiful to me every day.
Charles E. Burchfield, October 22-23, 1914