November 15, 2013

Poetry Friday--"Mr. Klimt's Garden"

"Garden Path with Chickens" by Gustav Klimt (1916), courtesy the Klimt Museum.

Mr. Klimt's Garden

Hens like little soldiers patrol
its path always on the lookout
for a weevil to swallow whole.

Or a snake. Chuck, chuck,
chuck, chuck.
They strut plucking
at weeds between the daisies.

They look up at the towering
hollyhocks, ignorant to the fact
that spores of rust are in the wind.

One day soon the gardener
will tear out the infected plants
and the hens will be soup.

© Diane Mayr, all rights reserved.

I saw the image above on Facebook and it struck my fancy, so I looked for it online and found this in the Klimt Museum's description:
As with all the paintings that were stored in Schloss Immendorf in Lower Austria during World War II, also this painting burst into flames set by the German Forces.
I love the way it was translated: "this painting burst into flames." However, this is not a matter for whimsy. It's heartbreaking that the work was destroyed. I hadn't heard of Schloss Immendorf, so I looked that up, too and found an interesting article from The Guardian about the Klimt paintings in the fire.

I wrote the poem on the same day I heard about the stash of looted paintings that had been discovered in Munich. If you missed that news, read about it in this article, also from The Guardian.

There's a film coming out soon, called The Monuments Men, which is based on the book of the same name, by Robert M. Edsel, about the recovery of art stolen during World War II. The Monuments Men Foundation continues the work begun nearly 70 years ago!

The lovely Ms. Rattigan is doing the Round-Up today at Jama's Alphabet Soup, where there's always something to savor.


  1. This is a feast of hard consonants, Diane. I love the sounds here, which raise the image out of simple representation to become something less fixed and more elemental, like the Klimt painting.

  2. Wow, thanks, Steven. I do like the way the second stanza turned out.

  3. Interesting painting and backstory. And tragic that it was destroyed by the Germans.

    The ending of the poem caught me by surprise! I like the second stanza best, with its rhyme and assonance. Comparing the strutting chickens to soldiers was interesting -- making me think of the war and survival of the fittest. :)

    1. I'm always interested in the backstory, too, Jama.

  4. Oooh, Diane. Alluring painting and a gorgeous-ugly poem with fitting echoes of the consumption of beauty. One of your best posts ever. (But then I'm a free verse groupie.)

    1. Thanks Heidi, I like this one, too. I don't usually get so deep. ;-)

  5. I love this painting-- the hens, the hollyhocks, the colors. Your poem is a beautiful companion for its ugly demise.

    1. It's a very lush garden. I wonder what the real garden looked like.

  6. Love your poem, Diane! I especially love the rust-laden hollyhocks. When I first put in a flower garden here on Canada's west coast, I dreamed of having hollyhocks like my mother's on our Saskatchewan farm. Well, I put them in, they flourished for a bit, and then became freckled from top to bottom. *Sigh*

    Somehow the devastation of Mr. Klimt's painting entered your poem through those hollyhocks and soup-destined chickens. Such a subtle touch.

    1. Thanks Violet! Sorry about your hollyhocks, though. What do you grow now?

      It's funny what you said about "a subtle touch." Come back on Friday for my next ekphrastic poem. Not even a pretense of subtlety will be found in that one!

  7. I enjoyed this one very much, and thanks for the back-story, too. My favorite line is the last one!

    1. Ha! A lover of chicken soup?

      Whoopy once, whoopy twice,
      Whoopy chicken soup with rice.

  8. Love you poem and the pairing with the painting. Thanks for the links to the Monument Men. I did just read about the recovered artwork this morning, so I was prepped for all the great links.