Friday, December 16, 2011

Still Life, Vanitas

This photo is of a Vanitas still life by Abraham Mignon, a Dutch painter of the 17th Century. This style of painting often includes luscious fruits and flowers that, upon close inspection, aren't as inviting as they seem. In fact, they are teeming with insects and dripping with decay. It's the worm in the apple, so to speak, the grim reminder that we, too, will come to dust.

Not a very cheery start to the day. Sorry about that. They come when they will.


sickly sweet
and sticky
overblown and ripe
like bees buzz
the peaches
on this wall
like flies buzzed
when she died
like the skull
shines beneath
the waxy skin
like purple pools
beneath her eyes
like the days pool
in empty glasses
like the sand


  1. It's perhaps inevitable that our thoughts turn to mortality at this time of year, and this piece, linking images of the natural world to images of the death of a particular "she" makes that connection clear.
    The movement of the last eight lines is gorgeous - the unstated repetition of things catching light, pooling. I thought, on the first and second reading, that the glasses were her reading glasses but noticed, as I was about to comment on the way the poem moved from the skin beneath her eyes to the emptiness in her glasses, that I had misread. Probably because my mind was closing a suggestive loop in the imagery, wanted to come back to those eyes.
    A beautiful piece.

  2. Caught the Emily Dickinson reference in there. :) Nice take on both the painting and the concept... a mix of lush and macabre.

  3. I missed the Emily Dickinson. And how much richness it added once I saw it.

  4. your poem is the perfect accompaniment to the painting. There's always decay in nature, too easy to overlook it in art....

  5. I do like when the religious touches the secular as so much Renaissance art did. Even though the fruit by human standards is rot by those creatures eating it, it becomes a feast. And if we all get to become dust then we too may be a meal for life on the way there.

  6. While it's not very cheerful, the poem is very well usual! :D