I like the back story behind The Black Panther. It’s another piece from the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s 1934 collection of Public Works of Art Project (PWAP) paintings and etchings. It stands out because it does not depict a typical “American scene” as was the premise behind approved PWAP art pieces. Alice Dineen was born and raised in New York City. The Black Panther is her studies of a panther at the Bronx Zoo, and, foliage from the adjacent New York Botanical Gardens.

Black Panther (1934) Alice Dinneen

Sladen’s verse, to me, works well with the Black Panther. It’s tranquil and rich with vivid color imagery. I don’t know where it takes this blog next and that’s fine by me.

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The Tropics

Douglas Brooke Wheelton Sladen (b. 1856)

LOVE we the warmth and light of tropic lands,
The strange bright fruit, the feathery fanspread leaves,
The glowing mornings and the mellow eves,
The strange shells scattered on the golden sands,
The curious handiwork of Eastern hands,
The little carts ambled by humpbacked beeves,
The narrow outrigged native boat which cleaves,
Unscathed, the surf outside the coral strands.

Love we the blaze of color, the rich red
Of broad tiled-roof and turban, the bright green
Of plantain-frond and paddy-field, nor dread
The fierceness of the noon. The sky serene,
The chill-less air, quaint sights, and tropic trees,
Seem like a dream fulfilled of lotus-ease.

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