Contemporary Literature. Poems and Paintings Essay
Analyzing a piece of art in its relationship to another one is not a very easy task but rather interesting one, especially when the matter concerns the comparison of a poem and a picture. Dealing with such an assignment involves some understanding of symbols hidden in this or that work of art and the ability to understand these symbols and interpret them. Usually, when a painting follows some literary work, it widens the picture that we could only imagine while reading the poem, it gives some additional impressions and enriches the picturesqueness of a certain work of art.
In the opposite case, we can speak of the same process but carried out by other means. That is, if in the first case the visual image reveals details of the literary work, in the second case the literary piece of art explains verbally all the underlying meanings of the painting that one could see but had difficulties with its understanding.
The poem and painting chosen for the analysis in this paper belong to the works of the second group, that is the picture came to existence much earlier than the poem which, in its turn, tried to expand the plot of the picture. For the comparison I have chosen the painting “Hunters in the snow” by the famous Netherlandish artist of the Renaissance epoch Peter Bruegel and the poem with the same title by the 19th century talented American poetry and prose author William Carlos Williams.
The author of the painting was famous for his pictures from the peasants’ life and the work under consideration is a nice illustration of his painting manner. William Carlos Williams, in his turn, was known as a skillful modernist and imagist,w hich he proved by the poem dedicated to the Bruegel’s picture.So, let us try to trace some similarities, as well as differences, between the two masterpieces of art.
The first, and the most important, difference between the works lies in the fact that they belong to absolutely different periods of the art history. The picture refers to the Renaissance epoch and reflects all basic features of the time – concentration on the figure of a human, depiction his life in all its aspects.
When we take a look at the Bruegel’s painting we get the impression of presence at the setting of the picture in the middle ages. But without knowing the specifics of that period we can be at a loss while interpreting the images in this picture. It is now that the poem by William Carlos Williams comes to our help. It is written in quite a modern language that explains the details of the people’s life in the Medieval times and makes the picture clearer to understand for an ordinary person. On the whole, the poem is a detailed description of the painting, from the beginning to the end it explains the images of the picture and leads the spectator in the epoch displayed in the painting:
The over-all picture is winter icy mountains
in the background the return
from the hunt it is toward evening
from the left sturdy hunters lead
in their pack the inn-sign
hanging from a broken hinge is a stag
As we can clearly see from the both works, they perfectly complete each other being integral parts of a larger piece of art that comprises visual and verbal images presenting a nice picture of the Renaissance epoch. We can not say that either the painting or the poem is dominant in this comparison. The authors from different historical periods managed to create two pieces of art that became almost an entity four centuries after the work had been started.
Williams, W.C. (2004). Classic Poetry Series. William Carlos Williams: Poems. PoemHunter.Com – The World’s Poetry Archive, 41.
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