#350: The Garden of Earthly Deep Purple

A0695 DEEP PURPLE Deep Purple III (Self-Titled)

Today’s NaPoWriMo suggestion was to write a persona poem in the point of view of a character from Bosch’s famous triptych “Garden of Earthly Delights.” A great prompt idea, I think, one that I would have liked to write from. But even after I watched and listened to the interactive tour of this crazy thing on the link provided by today’s prompt, there was a childhood connection to this painting, intersected with my early love of music, that I could not shake. So the subject of the poem sort of dictated itself to me from the get-go. The following is the result, and, FYI, it is the first time in three weeks or more that I have not written about the pandemic.

The Garden of Earthly Deep Purple

For the longest time, I thought
I had imagined that, as a child,
I listened to my brother’s Deep Purple
album, the cover of which was
the Hell portion of Bosch’s
“Garden of Earthly Delights.”
The album made an impression,
the music and the art together
made an even larger impression,
perhaps the first time in my
life about which I could say
I was somewhat haunted
or moved by album cover art.
In recent years, I have
tried to find that record with
the tree man with the tavern
in his ripped open skeleton belly
and the beast sitting on the toilet
eating people and immediately
pooping them out the other end
into the sewer hole. I couldn’t
find it, and eventually,
thought that something about
my memory of this early musical
experience was faulty.

Since the last time I researched
this question, the internet has,
as technology does over time, improved.
“Deep Purple,” sometimes referred
to as “Deep Purple III,” did in fact
feature this art, art which, painted
between 1490 and 1510, apparently
in 1969, was controversial. For that
reason record stores wouldn’t carry it
or would deliberately under-stock.
The record sold poorly. Eventually,
the album would be reissued, the
Bosch art would be minimized and
placed underneath a stupid band photo
over the top of a music staff with
a transcription, perhaps, of some
music from the record, but probably
not. At any rate, this is all to say
that I listened to “Deep Purple III”
today, that I found it not entirely unpleasant,
that I found that the music, most of it,
held up pretty well after all these years,
that I relived a childhood music
memory, found it not to be false,
and that I studied Bosch’s famous
triptych closer than I have ever done,
or maybe ever would have, in my life.

Published by michaeljarmer

I'm a public high school English teacher, fiction writer, poet, and musician in Portland, Oregon

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