Whistler’s Mother


April sunshine has given me the courage to take on the challenge of writing Ekphrastic poems. I have never attempted to translate the emotion from paintings, drawings, sculptures, or other visual works of art into words. The challenge will require me to dig deep to tap into the passions such works of art create inside a person. Most of what I write will be speculative. There will be times when I will place myself into the mind of the artist. Still other times, I will express the emotions I experience gazing at the work of art. If I get creative, I might even tell the story from an element within the artwork. This Ekphrastic poem is based on a painting by James McNeill Whistler entitled Arrangement in Grey and Black # 1 or Whistler’s Mother.  

Whistler’s Mother

You sit so still in your widow’s weave.

It seems like such a long time to grieve,

A lifetime dedicated to morning the dead.

Victorian lady filled with woe and dread

subject of Arrangement in grey and black # one

Wondered about long after the painting is done

A stabilizing force and moral weight

Off to London to keep a wayward son straight

A solid fortress of stoicism

Fortified against societies criticism

By an enduring religious faith and hope

That enabled her to navigate and cope

With posing for her son the painter

Sitting for hours in chair in her chamber

Feet bolstered on a pedestal,

Sweet Maggie’s desertion regrettable.

It should have been her sitting in the chair.

It must have seemed so unfair,

For her sun to paint her in such a gloomy room

And not in a garden surrounded by spring’s bloom.

Who is Molly Shea?

Molly Shea is an accomplished fictional short story writer from Indiana who writes short stories and novels about a fictional town called Tecumseh.  To read more of her short stories and adventures, click here.

Be sure to follow Molly on Twitter!

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Published by henhouselady

I am the author of Saving the Hen House. I didn't know when I started it would turn into a series. I love to ride motorcycles, the blues, my family, and going on adventures. This old hen rocks.

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