Women in Dutch Painting

The afternoon sun is on their faces.
they are calm, not stupid,
pregnant, not bovine.
I know women like that
and not just in paintings —
an aunt who did not answer her husband back
not because she was plain
and Anna who writes poems
and hopes her avocado stones
will sprout in the kitchen.
Her voice is oatmeal and honey.
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Hnnhbiie30's picture

In "Women in Dutch Painting" by Eunice de Souza, the poet offers a contemplative reflection on the portrayal of women in art and life. Through concise yet evocative language, de Souza captures the essence of women depicted in Dutch paintings, imbuing them with a sense of quiet strength and resilience.

The poem opens with a vivid image of women bathed in the warm glow of the afternoon sun. Despite their stillness, there is an unmistakable aura of calmness and intelligence that emanates from them. They are described as "not stupid, pregnant, not bovine," challenging stereotypes and offering a nuanced portrayal of femininity.

Through the speaker's observations, we glimpse a familiarity with these women beyond the confines of the canvas. They exist not only in paintings but also in everyday life, embodied by individuals like an aunt who chooses silence not out of submission but as a deliberate act of strength. This portrayal subverts traditional notions of passivity and highlights the agency of women in asserting their identity and autonomy.

The poem takes on a personal tone as the speaker introduces Anna, a woman who writes poems and nurtures hope even in the most mundane of activities, such as planting avocado stones in her kitchen. Anna's voice is described as "oatmeal and honey," suggesting a comforting warmth and richness that mirrors her inner resilience and creativity.

In "Women in Dutch Painting," de Souza celebrates the multifaceted nature of womanhood, rejecting reductive stereotypes and embracing the complexities and contradictions inherent in human experience. The poem serves as a tribute to the quiet strength and resilience of women, both past and present, who navigate the intricacies of life with grace and dignity.

Through its lyrical imagery and intimate tone, "Women in Dutch Painting" invites readers to reconsider their perceptions of women in art and society, recognizing the depth and richness of their experiences beyond superficial appearances. It is a poignant reminder of the enduring power of women's voices and the profound impact they have on the world around them.

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