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Hunters in the Snow: Brueghel -- Joseph Langland

Wrapping up the theme:
(Poem #485) Hunters in the Snow: Brueghel
 Quail and rabbit hunters with tawny hounds,
 Shadowless, out of late afternoon
 Trudge toward the neutral evening of indeterminate form
 Done with their blood-annunciated day
 Public dogs and all the passionless mongrels
 Through deep snow
 Trail their deliberate masters
 Descending from the upper village home in lovering light.
 Sooty lamps
 Glow in the stone-carved kitchens.
 This is the fabulous hour of shape and form
 When Flemish children are gray-black-olive
 And green-dark-brown
 Scattered and skating informal figures
 On the mill ice pond.
 Moving in stillness
 A hunched dame struggles with her bundled sticks,
 Letting her evening's comfort cudgel her
 While she, like jug or wheel, like a wagon cart
 Walked by lazy oxen along the old snowlanes,
 Creeps and crunches down the dusky street.
 High in the fire-red dooryard
 Half unhitched the sign of the Inn
 Hangs in wind
 Tipped to the pitch of the roof.
 Near it anonymous parents and peasant girl,
 Living like proverbs carved in the alehouse walls,
 Gather the country evening into their arms
 And lean to the glowing flames.
 Now in the dimming distance fades
 The other village; across the valley
 Imperturbable Flemish cliffs and crags
 Vaguely advance, close in, loom
 Lost in nearness. Now
 The night-black raven perched in branching boughs
 Opens its early wing and slipping out
 Above the gray-green valley
 Weaves a net of slumber over the snow-capped homes.
 And now the church, and then the walls and roofs
 Of all the little houses are become
 Close kin to shadow with small lantern eyes.
 And now the bird of evening
 With shadows streaming down from its gliding wings
 Circles the neighboring hills
 Of Hertogenbosch, Brabant.
 Darkness stalks the hunters,
 Slowly sliding down,
 Falling in beating rings and soft diagonals.
 Lodged in the vague vast valley the village sleeps.
-- Joseph Langland
You don't often see this kind of descriptive poem attempted in completely free
verse; it's to Langland's credit that he achieves this task while remaining
remarkably 'poetic'. My favourite part of is this:
        "This is the fabulous hour of shape and form
         When Flemish children are gray-black-olive
         And green-dark-brown."
which seems to capture the feel of the orginal wonderfully well.



Dan Percival was the first of several people to write in with the name of the
painting I mentioned yesterday - it was 'The Human Condition', by Rene Magritte
[1]. Thanks, Dan (and all the others).

[1] Not Matisse, as I had written yesterday. I'm mortified that I confused the
two... they say the memory is the first thing to go... Magritte/Matisse,
Corot/Courbet, Monet/Manet... oh well.


Dan also wrote:

"Magritte was deeply concerned with the distinction between a painting and its
subject, probably most famously expressed in "La trahison des images," ("The
treachery of images"), in which a realistic illustration of a pipe is captioned
with the phrase "Leci n'est pas une pipe." (This is not a pipe.)  There's a web
site with a searchable catalog of 300 of his paintings at
Several of his paintings treat the theme of a painting of a window placed in
front of the window.  Just go to that site, follow the "Museum" link, then pick
"window" from the theme menu of the search area on the left.  In the first two
pages of results, paintings like the one you describe are "The Human Condition"
(two versions) and "Where Euclide Walked."

Hmm, there's that old dichotomy between representation and represented again...

30 comments: ( or Leave a comment )

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I must to say i love the snow, the cold climate, although i´m not a child anymore i remember my happy childhood and all the beutiful time that i spent with all my friends. Now when is snowing i prefer to spend my time with my boyfriend, most of all that he decided to buy viagra, we enjoy all the time.

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