This week's theme: Brueghel, or, A Poetic Curiosity:
(Poem #482) Winter Landscape
The three men coming down the winter hill In brown, with tall poles and a pack of hounds At heel, through the arrangement of the trees, Past the five figures at the burning straw, Returning cold and silent to their town, Returning to the drifted snow, the rink Lively with children, to the older men, The long companions they can never reach, The blue light, men with ladders, by the church The sledge and shadow in the twilit street, Are not aware that in the sandy time To come, the evil waste of history Outstretched, they will be seen upon the brow Of that same hill: when all their company Will have been irrecoverably lost, These men, this particular three in brown Witnessed by birds will keep the scene and say By their configuration with the trees, The small bridge, the red houses and the fire, What place, what time, what morning occasion Sent them into the wood, a pack of hounds At heel and the tall poles upon their shoulders, Thence to return as now we see them and Ankle-deep in snow down the winter hill Descend, while three birds watch and the fourth flies.
Anustup Datta () wrote in with a most interesting discovery: a set of four poems all based on the same painting, Pieter Brueghel's 'Hunters in the Snow'. (You can see the painting itself at [broken link] http://www.khm.at/khm/staticE/page430.html). For today's poem I'll just include Anustup's own commentary; from tomorrow onwards I'll be adding my own two (or more) bits. thomas. [Anustup writes] This exercise was prompted by a sense of curiosity to compare two arts - the visual and the poetic. Is a picture really worth a thousand words? Or does the use of language, an evocative medium that conjures up far more than it physically says, actually add extra dimensions of meaning to the subject? You be the judge. I have chosen one of my favourite paintings - Pieter Brueghel's celebrated 'Hunters in the Snow'. It is a very evocative painting, as anyone who has seen Andrei Tarkovsky's classic film 'The Sacrifice' would know: this painting plays a central role in it. Brueghel was known for his silky and delicate landscapes - his nickname was 'Velvet', as distinguished from his brother  Jan, who was dubbed 'Hell'. My other reason for choosing Brueghel is his popularity among poets - many of his works have had poetry written on them. The most celebrated is W. H. Auden's 'Musee des Beaux Arts' (Minstrels Poem #68), on Brueghel's 'The Fall of Icarus'. William Carlos Williams has also written a well-known poem on the same painting . Anustup.  Actually, 'Hunters in the Snow' is by Pieter Brueghel the Elder, the father of Jan and Pieter Brueghel the Younger - t.  'Landscape with the Fall of Icarus', one of several Williams poems based on Brueghel paintings - see his 'Pictures from Brueghel and Other Poems', New Directions, 1962 - t. [EB on Brueghel] " ... with the possible exception of a drawing of a mountain valley by Leonardo da Vinci, the landscapes resulting from [Brueghel's journey to Italy] are almost without parallel in European art for their rendering of the overpowering grandeur of the high mountains. Very few of the drawings were done on the spot, and several were done after Brueghel's return, at an unknown date, to Antwerp. The vast majority are free compositions, combinations of motifs sketched on the journey through the Alps... ... the double interest in landscape and in subjects requiring the representation of human figures also informed, often jointly, the paintings that Brueghel produced in increasing number after his return from Italy. All of his paintings, even those in which the landscape appears as the dominant feature, have some narrative content. Conversely, in those that are primarily narrative, the landscape setting often carries part of the meaning. ... ['Hunters in the Snow' features] a combined monumentalization and extreme simplification of figures... and another characteristic of Brueghel's art, an obsessive interest in rendering movement." -- Encylopaedia Brittanica