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August 24, 2012

Poetry Friday--Summer Poem Swap

The final poem I sent off in this year's (I'm hoping there's a next year) Summer Poem Swap was "Noblesse Oblige," a ekphrastic poem inspired by a painting by Amedeo Modigliani, "La Jeune Bonne" (1918). I wrote the poem specifically for my swap partner, Tabatha Yeatts, who has a penchant for sharing art on her blog The Opposite of Indifference. It's a payback for all the art she's introduced me to.

I incorporated the poem into a reproduction of "Le Jeune Bonne," but, I will only post a link where you can see the art, since, I'm unclear about copyright issues involved in using the work.
Noblesse Oblige

On the job her eyes
reveal nothing
for those she serves,
her own elan vital
so well suppressed she
no longer remembers
that she had a dream.
The price of hiring
a perfect servant
does not come cheap.

© Diane Mayr, all rights reserved.
I posted another ekphrastic poem last month, "Obsessive Compulsive: On Degas' Blanchisseuses et chevaux." The poem dealt with a laundress. Today's poem is about a maid. I think perhaps I've found a new project--writing poems about servants portrayed in works of art. Servants have two lives, so there's twice as much to imagine!

Once again I'd like to thank Tabatha for organizing the Summer Poem Swap and for letting me participate! I'm also amazed by the reverso poem she sent to me. A reverso is something that seems to me to be so complicated as to be undoable! In other words, don't look for me to write one any time soon!

This week's Round-Up is being held at Dori Reads.


  1. Diane, Thank you so much for the poem! Your letter came while we were on vacation and I haven't been able to find it (!), so this is my first reading. You picked such a powerful painting and your poem goes so well with it! I think a servant-ekphrastic series sounds like a great idea. :-)

  2. Thanks for sharing, Diane - I read your poem before clicking over to the painting. Now your first lines really pack a punch.

    I think your series idea is full possibilities - I'd love to read more of your poems like these!

  3. Robyn, the eyes in the painting are really freaky, aren't they...

  4. Oh my, those eyes. I wonder why? I like your using the word 'suppression' in the poem. If I hadn't known it was a servant, I might have supposed the painting was about all women. Thank you Diane.

  5. I just listened to the bit of Bill Bryson's book AT HOME about servants. You've got a fascinating topic! Can't wait for more!!

  6. See, now that was interesting. I read the first lines before clicking and was sure the poem was about a prostitute. I think you're on to something with your servant poem project. Now imagine if you could write the servants' two lives as reversos, with the "reverso" part being their "true" lives reflected in their lives of service...Good luck with that! :)

  7. Ha! I'll leave the reverso to those who like challenges. It's a great idea, though, Renee, maybe you should write it. There's room in the world for more than one servant poem writer!

    1. Um...erm....I went to look up some reversos after reading your post, and would just like to say...NEVER MIND!!!