We holidayed in Central Europe a while back and stopped in Vienna. The art collections are extraordinary though you need a quality and quantity of stamina I’m not sure if I possess. This poem was the result
I want to like Art collections.
I mean I love the Dutch,
Breugal and Bosch – neat little people
Intriguing encyclopaedias of paint.
And Vermeer’s curious scenes,
Telling us a little, leaving us to guess.
Or Holbein’s or Rembrandt’s faces,
Creased, clever, detail-real people.
I can leave Reubens, frankly
With most of the Renaissance,
For a rainy day. I mean,
He’s good –no doubt he can hold a brush.
And big – he really fills a canvas.
Gives good paint as they might have said.
But all those fat babies?
Today, people would wonder at his fixation.
It’s when I reach that room
Floor to ceiling canvases.
Lots of clouds
And some bearded old boy who doesn’t know
It’s rude to point.
It’s then I’m done.
My back sets like Rembrandt’s granny’s face.
My feet feel as if Holbein’s captured their reality
And my neck is twisted into a Breugal imagined spasm.
Somewhere, in each painting, there’s a little me
Being made an example of,
Being shown how reality really feels.
Somedays I really really wish
I’d been painted by Reubens.