landscape Painter, Jamaica
Please note that the information given on this poem is not meant to replace any material given in the classroom setting. It is a very BASIC giude to enable a literal understanding of the poem. Metaphorical interpretations should be sought in the classroom.
The physical structure of this poem has been altered from the original layout in the text.
I watch him set up easel,
Both straddling precariously
A corner of the twisted, 1. climbing
5 1. A tireless humming-bird, his brush
Dips, darts, hovers now here, now there,
Where 2. puddles of pigment
Bloom in the palette's wild small garden.
3. The mountains pose for him
10 In a family group -
Dignified, self-conscious against the 1. wide blue screen
Of morning; low green foot-hills
4. Sprawl like grandchildren about the knees
Of seated elders. And behind them, 3. aloof,
15 Shouldering the sky, patriarchal in serenity,
Blue Mountain Peak bulks.
And the professional gaze
Studies position, impatiently waiting
For the perfect moment to fix
20 Their preparedness, to confine them
For the pleasant formality
Of the family album.
1. His brush a humming-bird
Meticulously poised ...
25 3. The little hills fidgeting
5 Changelessly changing,
The painter's art.
Virtue, Vivian. 'Landscape Painter, Jamaica' in A World of Poetry. Edited by Mark McWatt and Hazel Simmonds McDonald. Pearson Education Ltd, 2005
This is the OPINION of one individual, which might not coincide with the views of others.
The speaker watches the landscape painter setting up his easel in a corner of the twisted mountain track. The painter's brush busily paints the mountains, which are grouped like a family. He watches the painter observing what he is about to paint, but the painter appears to have some frustration over his inability to capture the perfection of the mountains.
Stanza 2, lines 6-7 showcases the use of a plosive consonant. This letter makes a small explosive sound as you say it, which literally adds emphasis to whatever you are trying to say. So, in this case, the explosiveness of the p sound is highlighting the dartish movement of the brush strokes. So the sound is echoing the movement.
- Stanza 3, lines 9-10 highlight the beauty of the mountains. We can almost visualize a young girl posing confidently, knowing how gorgeous she is. What is being emphasized is that the mountains' beauty is accommodating the painter's passion for capturing the beauty of nature. It is mentioned that they are set in a family group, this is showing the position, or layout of the mountains. This personification enables the reader to visualize a family, with the members being of different heights, grouped close together to take a photograph.
- Stanza 3, line 14 personifies the mountains as dignified. The use of the adjective 'aloof' speaks to a person being cool and distant. The poet, through this personification, allows the readers to perceive the stateliness of the mountains.
- Stanza 5, line 25 shows the movement of the painter. The hills and mountains do not actually move, it is the painter who moves. The use of the word 'fidget' speaks to a playful response to the newness of what is perceived, when the painter changes position. He appreciates the new discoveries, based on the new position.
Stanza 3, line 13 shows the position of the foothills, in relation to Blue Mountain. They are surrounding the mountain. The simile allows the reader to visualize size, small versus large. The grandchildren versus the grandfather. So proportion and size are emphasized through this simile.
Stanza 5, line 26 is an absolutely beautiful way to highlight the fact that the hills change, based on the position that it is viewed from. So, it is not really moving, it is the painter that moves, but when he does, he gets a new vantage point that allows him to appreciate another aspect of the hills and the mountains. This oxymoron highlights how the position from which we view things affects our perception of that thing, in this case, it is the hills and the mountains.
IMPORTANT WORDS/ PHRASES
1. 'Climbing Mountain track'
This phrase emphasizes height. The use of the continuous tense literally allows the reader to perceive movement and height, constant upward advancing. The result is that we can then visualize not only a tall incline but a dangerous one as well.
2.'Dips, darts, hovers now here, now there'
This is the literal movement of the painter's hands and therefore the action of the brush. It conveys passion because the movement is so dartish, with a frantic edge to it. The painter is absorbed in the process of creation, or recreating what he is seeing.
3. 'Blue Mountain Peak bulks'
The word bulk, as a noun, means the mass or size of something. The poet, interestingly, turns this word into a verb. The effect of this transformation is that size and mass are conveyed, continuously. So movement, juxtaposed with size, is constantly emphasized in this poem.
The mood of the poem is generally reflective.
The tone of the poem is calm.
Contributor: Leisa Samuels-Thomas