May 23, 2011
The painting I have been working on , The Music Lesson, has not only became an inspiration for other Dutch painters, but it has also served as an inspiration for many poets and writers.
As an example of that here we have an interesting poem written by Mary Oliver in 1978 on which the author tries to tell us the story that is narrated in Vermeer´s painting from the point of view of the cavalier:
Sometimes, in the middle of the lesson,
we exchanges places. She would gaze a moment at her hands
spread over the keys; then the small house with its knickknacks,
its shut windows,
its photographs of her sons and the serious husband,
vanished as new shapes formed. Sound
became music, and music a white
scarp for the listener to climb
alone. I leaped rock over rock to the top
and found myself waiting, transformed,
and still she played, her eyes luminous and willful,
her pinned hair falling down –
forgetting me, the house, the neat green yard,
she fled in that lick of flame all tedious bonds:
supper, the duties of flesh and home,
the knife at the throat, the death in the metronome.
As it can be seen in the first lines of this poem, it is opened with a reference to the music teacher that is sitting at the piano who is explaining that sometimes he changes his place and lets his student to play the instrument to enjoy the music.
In the second and on the third stanzas we find how the music teacher is lost in her lonely, loveless and ordered life and that she finds expression in her music, an intimacy that exists nowhere else in “the small house with its knickknacks/ its shut windows”.
In the last stanza we have the image of that this woman lives in a tidy world and that she plays music to escape the entrapment of her life, to allow for a moment of passion to be present.
-This Writing Life: “Music Lesson” by Mary Oliver 1978. Retrieved 22 May from http://noelduffy.blogspot.com/2011/02/music-lesson-by-mary-oliver-1978.html
May 22, 2011
A woman of thirty pours the inch or so of milk
left in a jug, sets the jug high on a shelf
inside a small cupboard because the children
from next door are to stay the night, she’ll
not risk their picking at its precious glaze.
She takes her ring from beside the tap,
slips it back onto her third finger.
She hears steps on the path.
will happen after every painting for a long
time yet. It may have been war,
a sudden wrenching of implacable grief,
diseases arrived from the unburied,
children clattering in only days until
they are shunted east.
And the stranger
announcing, ‘There is something here,’ and her hand
on the lip first then the jug’s smooth curving,
it was lifted, so Jug & Woman
may have been the title again as it was and was
how many hundred times in that small
kitchen, its imagined canvas, the deluging back
of ordinariness so lovely, to what can one
compare it? And the steps always arriving.
It will happen next.
Vincent O’Sullivan, Blame Vermeer
(Victoria University Press, 2007)
May 22, 2011
Her hands know what to do:
they dance, winding the threads
around their tiny maypoles, trying
each knot with surprising speed under
the deep calm of that broad, honest face,
suspended like a benevolent moon
over this delicate task.
She is not delicate. Body and bosom
are full-fleshed; her heavy ringlets will uncurl
by sundown. Wool and wood, metal hooks
and folds of yellow fabric are rich
with gravity and mass —- things
solidly of this world.
Yet in this light that pours
from some high window,
passing beneficence of a northern sun,
those solid things seem fragile:
the light will shift; she will lift her head
and stretch and sigh, the quiet
around her rippled like a pond´s surface,
and this graced moment gone.
Gathered on what we see,
filtered through lace, gleaming
on hair and polished wood, what we see
is always the light.
May 20, 2011
Between light and dark,
between this world and the next,
between maidenhood and motherhood
she pauses, held in balance
like the balance she holds.
Her focus not the gold or
the weighing, but the justice to their still
of her scales, settling to their still
point in a steady hand,
and she herself unadorned,
a lily that needs no gilding
but the points of light that lie
on her veil like jewels on a crown.
If she raised her eyes, she would see
this luminous beauty, drop the scales,
and, like a blushing Eve, break
the balance and forsake
the innocence of her task,
but she does not.
If she turned, she would see
the Last Judgment, saints and sinners
weighed in the final balance, and,
called to think on ultimate things,
lose this moment—
but she does not.
Trained on the object, undistracted,
patient while the instrument swings
to its center and is still, she turns
this little task to prayer— if mindfulness is
prayer— to an exercise of love—if it is love
to be attentive to the thing at hand.
Girl with a Pearl Earring: An Interactive Study. Prof. Claire H. Firth, Universidad de Deusto
May 15, 2011
All day I am walking to the square
in the sun. I don’t know what to say.
I’ve begun the letter but it lies
on a black tile in the sitting room.
It has been five years
since the child. There’s no reason
for delay. I sip tea, plead
with the bargain-marker, sass
the servant-girl, but no luck.
I take a pinch of chocolate, search
birds’ tracks at the corners
of my eyes. No one knocks.
So what keeps me here?
It has taken this long to write.
Now, even you expect no reply.
That is as it should be.
I write to tell you I am alive.
What else is there? All the devils
you see in the air mean nothing-
this you know, so I write to assure you
you are not mistaken, your skin
is where you are not, around me
tight as stays. If I picture your face,
there is nothing left but this:
my stomach flowers as it once did.
I have not forgotten yet.
From Afterimages. Poems by Cathryn Hankla.
- Google books. Afterimages, poems by Carhryn Hankla. Retrieved on May 15, 2011 from http://books.google.es/books?id=MANvuJ3aFwgC&dq=a+lady+writing+a+letter+vermeer&source=gbs_navlinks_s
April 24, 2011
For all of us who have been working on Johannes Vermeer and constantly retrieving information on his life, background and artpieces, it is not new that his influence still pervades on modern arts. While looking around the net in search for precisely that, his influence in modern arts, I stumbled upon this poem written by Ira Sadoff and published in the renowned The Virginia Quarterly Review: A National Journal of Literature and Discussion, and which I already shared with you on Facebook and Delicious, yet I thought it would be adequate to post it on our blog as well since it inspired me when trying to write my story on the painting I chose: A Girl Interrupted at her Music. Here it is, enjoy:
When her mother entered the room, he did not
look up. The young girl’s pale skin turned
white as the shawl she wore. He was pointing
to a figuration of counterpoint, or so
he said. But there was something in the room
of the body giving off light, light was moving
toward the window instead of from its source.
And though his hand still clutched the back
of her chair, the mandolin was covered by sheets
of music, the glass of wine had not been
touched. Though the air in the room seemed
lighter by the old woman’s leaving, nothing
so heavy as speech would be uttered between them,
for there were still lessons to be learned,
what was to be played would soon be played out.
Ira Sadoff (1976). In ‘The Virginia Quarterly Review’ (pages 112-113). Retrieved 17:38, February 2011, from: http://www.vqronline.org/articles/1976/winter/sadoff-vermeer-girl-interrupted/
May 23, 2009
Afternoon light falls
on ochres and reds and pale golds.
Velvets and linens and wools
sway heavily in the light
breeze that passes through
this bower of abundance.
The letter she holds has been read before.
Pulling taut the wrinkled sheet she reads
again what she could now recite.
The word on which her gaze falls so intently
reach from the page like a familiar touch,
tender and faint as the delicate script
bleached by the light of this autumn afternoon.
Perhaps it is from an absent husband, running
the trade that brought these rugs a thousand miles,
and bought this fruit, best of harvest, for her table.
Perhaps not. It may be she who has gone away.
Given in marriage beyond what she knew to hope for,
taken from the sound of known feet on the village path,
from a circle of friends gathered to gossip
at the brookside after the day’s tasks,
from the mother who writes her now, wondering
whether, in her grand house, among her servants
and soft garments, she still cares for news from home.
Not even her mother knows how much
she cares: how she is glad that the old, blind cobbler’s
young apprentice is kind to him, and repairs
without a word the vagrant stitches on sole and tongue,
and calls him father; that her sister is learning
to weave and has taken her place reading verses
after the evening meal; that the little hunchback still rides
on the peddler’s cart and laughs back
at the children who laugh at him.
The streets of this city are silent as her ear strains
for familiar sounds. No woman’s voice summons her
in this household where, as yet, there is no babe
to cry or nurse to scold. The man who adores her
knows her only as his lady.
None of them knows how she would like, some evenings,
to lay her coiffed head on a breast broader and softer than her own;
to bake, morning, in a kitchen crowded with bowls and chatter;
to strip off her fine-stitched shoes and wade in a muddy brook
in secret, skirts gathered, with a giggling friend
in the heat and falling light of the afternoon.
In Quiet Light: Poems on Vermeer’s Women by Marilyn Chandler McEntyre