The picture of Vermeer Woman Holding a Balance, also known as Woman Weighing Pearls, is one of the most significant pictures of the Dutch painter. Because of that it has been really easy to find a beautiful composition about the picture:

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 Judgement, 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 of hand.

It is obvious that the painting on the background about the Final Judgement has a great meaning in the general meaning of the picture. The poem also makes reference to the fact that Vermeer’s wife (the model for the picture) is pregnant and because of that she is “between maidenhood and motherhood” (line 3).


-Package of Materials of ESP (2007-2008): Girl with a Pearl Earring: An Interactive Study.