Even after so many years, I still remember one assignment in school. Our teacher gave us each a different postcard of a famous painting and we, the chosen ones, were suppose to write an essay about it. I was not a happy camper. “Why did I get such a boring piece?” The painting was “Der arme poet/The poor poet” by Carl Spitzweg and I just starred at it.
It was my homework in my fall vacation and I had a whole week to write about it. I was a farm kid; I was busy in fall and needed at the farm. I didn’t have the time to write about a stupid picture. It was harvest time. I would make it short and sweet, “Older, funny looking guy lying in bed, obviously ill and poor,” there you have it, two lines and Voila…assignment over.
Back then, there was no internet and I had to go to the library for more information and a better picture. I found numerous books about Spitzweg and his paintings and then something funny happened, I fell in love with the picture and the ‘oh so boring painting’ became my favorite piece of art.
It is so detailed. A poet lies on a mattress in a shabby attic room, covered against the cold wearing a worn out jacket and a sleeping cap, holding up an umbrella against the dripping rainwater. He is working away diligently at his poem and is apparently unaffected by the adverse conditions. He was writing, maybe working on a poem…look at his fingers! Is he counting words and syllables or did he just smash an insect? The top hat hanging on the stovepipe, an indication it was cold in the room and the poor poet couldn’t afford any coals or wood. He stayed in bed, he didn’t feel good and it was the warmest place to be. The umbrella secured to the beams to fend off any drips from the snow melting on the roof. The books beside his bed, keeping him company. The newspaper bundles beside the stove, so he can have a little bit of a fire made out of burning paper, when it gets too icy in the room.
I filled page after page describing what I saw and what I thought about the painting and the poor poet.
This is my post to >>>Knock, Knock Writing Challenge Week #3<<<