A Poem inspired on Vermeer

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