Printed from WriteWords -


by  michwo

Posted: Sunday, March 11, 2018
Word Count: 110
Summary: What with reading about Danton and Robespierre and the French Revolution generally in Hilary Mantel's "A Place of Greater Safety", I've gone back in time to the 18th century and singled out a painter who was for one of the leading lights of the Enlightenment in France, Denis Diderot, the bee's knees, even though he is now remembered for his domestic scenes and still lifes: Jean-Baptiste Siméon Chardin (1699-1779).

How many pictures did you paint we’ve seen?
Two hundred was it?  Nothing went to waste.
A hare or skate or ray you deftly placed
Upon a table, next to a tureen.
We see the down on fresh plums in a bowl;
A woman peeling turnips looks the part,
And children in your pictures have a heart,
Blow bubbles, try to obviate a fall
Of cards stacked oh so carefully, succeed.
A vase of lilies glistens blue and white –
Nothing extraneous.  There is no need.
Your life was lived out in a sober light.
You were the eighteenth century’s Vermeer,
Cautious and frugal, to the people near.