Virgil's Muse

"...not what happened, just the way

            I imagine it."

--Margaret Campbell, excerpt from her poem, "Virgil's Muse"

"Woman Covered with Flowers, Reading" (1845) Corot

Virgil’s Muse


I remember you drawing,

            one hand on the pencil,

            the other hand, pressed

            against your forehead,           

            your body curved.

A bare foot peered out

                        from a crocheted Afghan

                        gathering the stellar

                        distances of light

                                    as if toes can

                        discern the yes

                                    in eyes.

Having lost sight

            of a swallow returning,

            you abandoned the sky,

            devoured the rocky, tree-lined horizon

                        to find yourself


                        on a window sill,

                                    your hair in flowers,

an anjou pear

            beside you

            forever resting on a bruise

            its shadow pouring

                                    over the edge

                                                of your sketchbook,

not what happened, just the way

            I imagine it.


© 2016 Margaret Campbell


A note about the poem:

A few days ago, I received an email from Margaret (Peggy) Campbell.  In the email, she referred to my last blog post, "Pears."  She also included the Corot painting ("Woman Covered With Flowers, Reading") and her original poem, "Virgil's Muse," which she allowed me to publish today.  I thought her email would be of interest to those of you who enjoy following the long threads of inspiration, those intimate places where ideas touch, the secret spaces where poetry and paintings are born...

Hi Lauren,

I want to thank you for your posting about pears... What I want to say is that your painting of the pear with the flower in the glass jar helped me to write the attached poem for the sixteen-year old daughter of an old friend of mine. This poem is also connected to Corot's "Woman Covered with Flowers, Reading" (1845)...

During a period when I could not see, I made a collection of painted and collaged "telescopes," and I inserted the poem into one of those telescopes, with a tiny copy of your pear over the telescope's end....sort of like looking at the moon, and seeing a pear. 

Nice to see you at the gallery. I am terrible at gallery openings. In the presence of art, I find it impossible to speak.



"Wind-ravaged tulip" oil painting by Lauren Kindle (the painting that helped inspire the poem)

More Blog Posts About Poems and Paintings:


Glutton Before Death: my poem

The Unfolding Rose: Roethke

Oysters: Jonathon Swift

A Love Poem for Kyle Staver: my poem, and Yeats

Garlic: my poem

Mother-Daughter Trip to the Met: Sappho

Poems About Paintings Part 4: Dante Rossetti

Poems About Paintings Part 3: my poem

Poems About Paintings Part 2: John Donne and George Szirtes

Poems About Paintings Part 1: X.J. Kennedy

Solitude's Trespass: my poem