Your search for the sublime can be satisﬁed with Patricia Hampl’s resplendent new Blue Arabesque (Harcourt, $22). The St. Paul author has for many years been inspired by a Matisse painting she saw at the Art Institute of Chicago; it was the subject of the title poem in her ﬁrst collection, Woman Before an Aquarium. Now she uses the portrait as a starting point for wide-ranging consideration. Hampl writes engagingly about color and collecting but also the nature of the contemplation she ﬁrst experienced at a high school retreat in the Louis Hill house. This leads to Jerome Hill (son of Louis and grandson of James J.), who became a ﬁlmmaker. “Like all true memoirists, [Jerome] Hill is drawn more to shards than to stories, images rather than narrative,” Hampl writes. She might as well be describing her own luminous work.