Tag Archives: William Carlos Williams

hb_19.164

Pieter Bruegel, The Harvesters, 1565 (oil on wood)

 

 

Richard Foerster

Though they stoop and sweat
outside a stingy circle
that the pear tree affords …though the mustardy sheaves
of their morning’s labor
lie stiff in their ranks as battle-tallied dead . . . and though
the tree itself, coiling
ungracefully heavenward, pasta blue steeple, splits
their world with its axis,
here is Eden after allwhich the artist makes
us contemplate
by planting in the foregroundthat husky, unkempt reaper
with his legs splayed wide,
forcing our gaze crotchward,to the solid drowse
of his codpiece so casually
unlaced, while another,nearby, holding summer-
ripe fruit firmly to his lips,
stares out at us, and eats.

~~~~~~

 

William Carlos Williams

Summer !
the painting is organized
about a young

reaper enjoying his
noonday rest
completely

relaxed
from his morning labors
sprawled

in fact sleeping
unbuttoned
on his back

the women
have brought him his lunch
perhaps

a spot of wine
they gather gossiping
under a tree

whose shade
carelessly
he does not share the

resting
center of
their workaday world

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icarus

Pieter Brueghel, The Fall of Icarus

Oil-tempera, 29 inches x 44 inches. Museum of Fine Arts, Brussels.

 

Landscape with the Fall of Icarus

William Carlos Williams

According to Brueghel
when Icarus fell
it was spring

a farmer was ploughing
his field
the whole pageantry

of the year was
awake tingling
with itself

sweating in the sun
that melted
the wings’ wax

unsignificantly
off the coast
there was

a splash quite unnoticed
this was
Icarus drowning

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Musee des Beaux Arts

 

W. H. Auden

About suffering they were never wrong,
The old Masters: how well they understood
Its human position: how it takes place
While someone else is eating or opening a window or just walking dully along;
How, when the aged are reverently, passionately waiting
For the miraculous birth, there always must be
Children who did not specially want it to happen, skating
On a pond at the edge of the wood:
They never forgot
That even the dreadful martyrdom must run its course
Anyhow in a corner, some untidy spot
Where the dogs go on with their doggy life and the torturer’s horse
Scratches its innocent behind on a tree.

In Breughel’s Icarus, for instance: how everything turns away
Quite leisurely from the disaster; the ploughman may
Have heard the splash, the forsaken cry,
But for him it was not an important failure; the sun shone
As it had to on the white legs disappearing into the green
Water, and the expensive delicate ship that must have seen
Something amazing, a boy falling out of the sky,
Had somewhere to get to and sailed calmly on.