Wednesday, August 16, 2006

The Milkmaid

Dave sent me the poem that goes along with the painting by VerMeer that I posted earlier. Dave says I'm a poetry snob, making reference to a comment I made once about poetry that he listened to in some sort of a jam session. Today I post the poem he sent me to a) show that I am able to appreciate all types of poetry and b) I especially appreciate good poetry...which I believe you will find here. So call me a snob. :)

The Milkmaid

There is no flattery here: this thick-muscled,
broad-bottomed girl has milked
cows at dawn and carried sloshing pails
hung from a yoke on shoulders
broadened to the task. She has kneaded fat
mounds of dough, sinking heavy fists deep
into voluptuous bread, innocent
and sensuous as a child in spring mud.
Evenings she mends and patches
the coarse wool of her bodice, smelling
her own sweat, sweet like grass and dung
fresh from the udder.

Her world is grained and gritty, deep-textured,
rough-hewn, earth-toned, solid,
simple and crude. Reed and brass and clay,
wheat and flax and plaster turned to human use
have not come far from the loamy fields
where they were mined and gathered. The things
she handles are round and square, tough-fibered
and strong, familiar as flesh to the touch.

The jug rests in her hand like a baby's
bottom. She bends to her task like a mother
tending her child, hand and eye trained
to this work, heart left to its pondering.

How like tenderness, this look
of complete attention, how like a prayer
that blesses these loaves, this milk
(round like this belly, full like this breast),
given daily into her keeping, this handmaid

on whom the light falls,
haloed in white, hallowed by the gaze
that sees her thus, heavy, thick-lipped,
weathered and earthbound, blessed
and full of grace.

I'm not sure who the author is...but isn't it beautiful?


la femme elisabeth said...

yup--gotta love those Dutch "Broad-bottomed" girls!

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