This was a fun painting process for me. I really liked the simplicity that I started with – the almost black and white photos of misty, bare forests. The rich brown and turquoise. But to fit in with my series, I needed something more to add. I spent a lot of time looking through my materials for something to add, other than the brown leaf.
In a magazine, I found this endearing old couple, working away at their orchard. Once cut out, the man was looking up in wonder, and he was unfurling a long net. I thought it would be neat if he could be reeling out words, or lines of poetry. I remembered recently I had been flipping through my Grandma Jean’s old reader, from 1922. I opened it up to this page with the poem, “The Solitary Reaper,” by Wordsworth. The words had an enchanting effect when I read the entire thing with this couple in mind. I think the people in the poem would have been younger, but somehow it still suited my couple and the barren looking wood.
The lines I chose to use were from the final stanza, which is not pictured above. I’ll paste the entire text below the last image. At the lady’s feet in the collage, I used a piece of the cloth from the binding of the school book. I like how the man is looking up, like he’s hearing those last notes of the song on the breeze.
Behold her, single in the field,
Yon solitary Highland Lass!
Reaping and singing by herself;
Stop here, or gently pass!
Alone she cuts and binds the grain,
And sings a melancholy strain;
O listen! for the Vale profound
Is overflowing with the sound.
No Nightingale did ever chaunt
More welcome notes to weary bands
Of travellers in some shady haunt,
Among Arabian sands:
A voice so thrilling ne’er was heard
In spring-time from the Cuckoo-bird,
Breaking the silence of the seas
Among the farthest Hebrides.
Will no one tell me what she sings?–
Perhaps the plaintive numbers flow
For old, unhappy, far-off things,
And battles long ago:
Or is it some more humble lay,
Familiar matter of to-day?
Some natural sorrow, loss, or pain,
That has been, and may be again?
Whate’er the theme, the Maiden sang
As if her song could have no ending;
I saw her singing at her work,
And o’er the sickle bending;–
I listened, motionless and still;
And, as I mounted up the hill,
The music in my heart I bore,
Long after it was heard no more.
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