SOLC 2014: Poetry Friday

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Several years ago, I visited the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, D.C. with a friend. At the time, a room was devoted to the work of the American Impressionist Thomas Wilmer Dewing. I was captivated by the ethereal quality and soft colors of Dewing’s canvases. I bought a calendar that included several of his paintings, thinking I might frame them. Not long after this, my artist son asked if there was anything in particular I wanted for Christmas. I asked him to paint me a version of this painting:

Thomas Wilmer Dewing In the Garden 1892–94 oil 20 5/8 x 35 in. Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of John Gellatly
Thomas Wilmer Dewing
In the Garden
20 5/8 x 35 in.
Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of John Gellatly

Michael’s version has hung over my bed ever since. I’ve often thought these women, my own graces, deserved a poem, but I never got around to writing one for them.

I was inspired to finally pick up my pen last month when Laura Shovan announced her Pantone® Poetry Project. Laura shared two or three colors each day, and challenged poets to write poems inspired by the colors. Day 10 featured Amberglow and Golden Glow, and although these aren’t the colors in Dewing’s painting, they are similar to Michael’s colors.

“In the Garden”

Music tumbles onto the terrace,

Out of doors thrown open wide.

Leaves tremble in the evening breeze,

An echo of trilling piano keys.

Calm descends;

the bustle of the day recedes.

Three women, swathed in silk,

like graceful moths, emerge

into the golden glow of twilight.

The air shimmers

as fireflies flit and dance.

Stars appear,

reflected in the amber glow

of their gowns,

as the last light of day fades.

The music ends,

and the final notes

melt into the evening air.

© Catherine Flynn, 2014

Be sure to visit Julie Larios at The Drift Record for the Poetry Friday Round Up.

Thank you, as always, to StaceyTaraDanaBetsyAnna, and Beth for hosting the Slice of Life Challenge. Be sure to visit Two Writing Teachers to read more Slice of Life posts.

19 thoughts on “SOLC 2014: Poetry Friday

  1. I remember this painting … maybe I also saw it at the Smithsonian? Your poem captures the ethereal qualities of the art. I especially like “Leaves tremble in the evening breeze/ An echo of trilling piano keys.”


  2. What a beautiful piece. I love the slip of the sounds . The shimmer and silken amber glow brought to mind the gloaming time. Gorgeous painting, I don’t know Dewing’s work so I’ll have to go on an explore today! I want to see Michael’s version too.


  3. Catherine,
    Your “draft” is amazing! I love the “swathed in silk” and “amber glow” and also the picture and the context of your poem! What a great story and poem!


  4. I wish you had joined us, Catherine. Beautiful painting, beautiful words too: “like graceful moths, emerge/into the golden glow of twilight”. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to step back in time, to see those women as they strolled… Perhaps that’s why people like Downton Abbey so much! Thanks!


  5. The last three lines caught my eye:
    “The music ends,
    and the final notes
    melt into the evening air.”
    I do believe you’ve captured the spirit of this beautiful painting, dear Catherine.


  6. Your words and the painting that inspired them will always be intertwined in my mind. This post inspired me on many different levels. I have been working on a post and had left it to jell. After reading your post I added a couple of lines. Thank you.


  7. I love “knowing” what happened right before they walked out into the garden! The music added a whole new sensory level to the poem!


  8. Wow. Just wow. This is amazing. I hope you have had it printed and framed to hang beside the picture. I feel like I am part of their evening. Your words, your beautiful words, took me right there.



  9. Gorgeous, Catherine! Your poem is such a perfect match for the painting– elegant, yet transcending earthly delights. The comparison of the women to silken clad moths, the stars reflected in their gowns… wow. it’s all just so luscious and lovely.


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