Thursday, March 13, 2014

What can a 100-plus-year-old painting say to us today?

Les Noisettes (1882)  William-Adolphe Bouguereau (1825-1905)

I lead a monthly writing group at Northland Public Library in McCandless, PA. It is an assignment-based group where I give prompts and we share our stories, poems, etc. when we meet the next month. The prompt for March's meeting was to write about the painting, Les Noisettes (The Nut-Gatherers) by William-Adolphe Bouguereau. One of the writers presented the following poem, which I describe as no less than brilliant. D.M. Lovic is an amazingly-gifted writer and by the time he was done reading this poem, I was in tears. It speaks to much of what I struggle with in modern society. See if it speaks to you as well. Please leave your thoughts for Dave in the comment section below.


Thoughts on a Painting by Bouguereau  
 by D.M. Lovic

To innocence, we bid farewell, its b­­rilliant bloom now dims and sets:
Resigned to pictures framed and hung, assigned to times the world forgets.

The girls in ribboned elegance, the boys in crisp, suspendered pants,
The passive pace of Sunday strolls, two lovers holding noble hands,  
The stillness of the summer sun, some gathered nuts, an impish grin,
Delights the childish hope inside; betrays the times we’re living in
Where smoky streets that web the globe are clamoring, are never still.
With spite we dream of painted scenes we’ve never known and never will.

Then, seeking to illuminate the secrets in the artist’s mind,
We choose the pen of present life to color what we find:   

The girls, so elegant, are ribboned as a guise for prurient tastes;
Suspendered boys who seek to lead, by definition are debased;
The Sunday pace is onerous, the price of angry-God commands;
The lovers have ignoble thoughts of what to do with idle hands.
And even girls reclined on paths are just personas, wearing masks
That hide the crooked souls within, that lead them to the devil’s tasks.

The heart bereft, the Knights entombed. This narrative we tell the youth
Reveals effects we welcomed in and speaks to us an awful truth:

In spite of “progress,” this our curse, our cynicism and our thief --
That simple scenes provoke the worst in supposition and belief.
Through modern eyes we view the joyful essence of the human soul
As twisted, dark and seeking sin instead of being whole.
It cannot be as pure as she and she with nuts and smiles shared.
An era’s gone. That simple scene is ever altered and impaired.  

For evermore, we’re apt to read the complication of the years
Into the softer, simpler times until they’ve disappeared.

And so a picnic in the mead, or sleeping in late-summer wheat,
An autumn walk in forest glade, a cycle ride through tree-lined streets,
A gathering of nuts with friends, a twilight crowd for childhood games
Are best enjoyed in galleries, with canvas, paint and golden frames 

Where moth and rust cannot destroy, where visitors will be inclined
To keep alive the innocence, if only in the mind. 

* * *

DM Lovic has spent years honing his writing craft in relative obscurity. In total fear of the outside world and of receiving rejection letters from 20 year-old, bean-counting, summer interns, he has barely entered his work in any competition. He's written numerous screenplays, musicals, songs and poems, yet his novel-length epic poem for teens entitled "The Curse of the Grey Faerie" (likely the work he was born to write) remains 80% complete.

He lives in Springdale, PA with his wife, Alane, daughter, Emma, and sons, Jude and Eli, whose affections are, in truth, his greatest achievement.



  1. Each time I read it, my mind is blown anew.

    1. Mine, too, Laura. It's simply a breathtaking poem. I'm honored to be able to share it here on the blog.


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