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Characters

Recently, I read the novel The Girl With the Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier. The girl of the title, the girl in Vermeer's painting, intrigued me too. The author, writing about what inspired her to write the novel says:

" The idea for this novel came easily. I was lying in bed one morning, worrying about what I was going to write next. (Writers are always worrying about that.) A poster of the Vermeer painting Girl With a Pearl Earring hangs in my bedroom, as it has done since I was nineteen and first discovered the painting. I lay there idly contemplating the girl's face, and thought suddenly, "I could write about her." Within three days I had the whole story worked out. It was effortless; I could see it all in her face. Vermeer had done all my work for me."
Tracy Chevalier , author of The Girl With the Pearl Earring

We looked at the poem "The Lacemaker" by Marilyn Chandler McEntyre, ( from In Quiet Light: Poems on Vermeer's Women) one of a book of poems based on Vermeer's paintings.

We could all view paintings by Vermeer and try to be inspired by the women and the use of light in them - but we'll broaden the prompt to be a poem inspired by and about a character. The character can be from a novel or painting. Include the character's name and the painting or novel either within the poem or as an epigram.


 


 

LA VECCHIA BY GIORGIONE

What did he have to do with me
Or how come me, here?
Just an old, old contadina, country girl
In his studio.
I couldn't be confused with a saint
And my clothes, rags snatched in the ghetto
Old linen to cover my head.
He laughed and I looked surprised
As he shouted, Basta, enough.
My left eye closes more than my right,
My eyes look out the corner
So I might catch a glimpse of me,
My right hand pointing inward,
Holding before my heart
A parchment with fine letters.
I do not know what it says
But he says, COL TEMPO, in time.
What does it mean to me the flow of time
On his canvas, in my hands?

Some days it was nicer
With people coming round to do business
And when they saw the picture of me
Leaning on a window edge
They'd say, how wonderfully you draw.
We only thought you had the soft tones
Of country light with gathering storm gray.
Who are these nude women, so tender
And that one more beautiful, filing a glass pitcher
Or her who blows a flute
While the knights are deep in conversation.

Half of the work is a riddle
Like his going off
And saying he'd be back to explain,
Only he never came back.

No one could have done me so well
But why he did is a puzzle
As the ones that are clear.

Edward N. Halperin


the last supper?

i do not know why
but i was that day, compelled to stare
as if by some strange force
that i cannot describe.
it was just another painting,long faded
hanging on the wall of a goodwill store
$2.99 buys it or so read the tag.
one of a million copies i would assume.
i could see the sadness in the eyes,
the face framed by shoulder length hair.
the pain, or was it my pain?
i wondered at the delicate brush strokes,
of the artist ,the colors, the white linen covered table,
the believers,sitting around the table,
each staring at him
as i stared at them.
were their thoughts,
my thoughts, these faithful?
were they blinded by the truth?
did they even care?
was i? do i?

Ray Cutshaw


THE COUPLE
"The Dance Lesson"
Hillaire-Germaine -Edgar Degas

The ballerina's red hair- bow catches my eye drawing my gaze to her face below.
The jaw is not tense; the mouth calmly closed.
Her eyes, intent on the violinist, await his cue.
Glamorous, her glossy, white satin and crisp, tulle tutu separates them.
Centered in the drawing, the silent bow hand of the dashing, brown-suited, mustached man plays for our ears.
He hears the music too. Looking inward, he is the master of the tune.
Does he play for the dancer? Does she dance for him?
In my life, I dance/play with another and play/dance alone.

Ellen Kaplan


THE GIRL WITH THE PEARL EARRING

She looks, unknowing, yet, halting,
before entering the darkness.
Friends, lovers, family, dreams,
Should such beauty be tested on the unknown?
Curtain to her new world unmoved,
her face defies death.
The slight tilt of her head, mocking time,
there is pity in those parted lips,
for those of us not so fortunate,
we stare as we die slowly.


Sidney Grant


Holy Week is time to think of Passion.
I used to paint The Story many ways:
some facet of Our Lord’s last bloody days
leading to His death upon The Cross.

But I’m too old to paint in any fashion
because the mess of paint and brush and odor
of the solvents make me short of breath.
Now my computer’s made up for the loss.

Today I took a photo of my youngest
and placing it into my trusty scanner
transferred him onto my painting site
and changed my son into the Lord Himself.

I pressed the Crown of Thorns into his head,
and spattered drops of blood upon his brow
and even let it splatter on his jacket,
recalling agony he’d put me through.

Like The Christus, Dan was thirty-three
when I took the portrait I was using.
What a life he’d led up to that time!
The tears were mine I placed into his eyes.

And even when the halo came on crooked
- set eschew upon his tousled head -
we smile together at this "holy" vision
that looks so like both God and salvaged son.

Catherine M. LeGault


 

A SILENT RESPONSE
inspired by Women in Blue Reading A Letter by Vermeer

She waits and waits to hear the knock on the door.
Apprehensive questions cross her mind-
-What will I do?
-What will I say?
-What will I think?
A few moments later, the knocking is heard.
The vibrations on the door cause her heart to start racing
-Should I wait a few more seconds?
-Should I run to the door?
Isn’t this what she wants?
Why isn’t she moving?
Why isn’t she answering the door?
She gets up and takes a deep breath.
As she approaches the door, she takes another breath.
-Sigh…sigh
Expecting her fulfillment, she sees an old wrinkled faced man holding a telegram.
In slow motion, she takes the letter.
Everything seems so leisurely to her now.
She opens the letter and stares at the first few words.
Her feelings turn as blue as her blouse,
Yet her countenance remains blasé.
She now realizes that her time has been wasted.
Her beauty, talent, patience, and dreams have all been scribbled away-
For the letter had stated ‘Maybe in a million years, maybe in a million years.’

Georgette Tzatzalos


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