The Artist Says: NaPoWriMo2020, Day 6


Bosch, The Garden of Earthly Delights


I paint what I see—

the tree-man’s visions,


pictures of what was,

of what might be,


wondering if once opened,

my mind-doors can be closed–


I have no answers,

this may be a chimera, after all–


but do take a strawberry,

they’re delicious, yes?


Day 6 of NaPoWriMois an ekphrastic prompt:

a poem from the point of view of one person/animal/thing from Hieronymous Bosch’s famous (and famously bizarre) triptych The Garden of Earthly Delights. Whether you take the position of a twelve-legged clam, a narwhal with a cocktail olive speared on its horn, a man using an owl as a pool toy, or a backgammon board being carried through a crowd by a fish wearing a tambourine on its head, I hope that you find the experience deliriously amusing. And if the thought of speaking in the voice of a porcupine-as-painted-by-a-man-who-never-saw-one leaves you cold, perhaps you might write from the viewpoint of Bosch himself? Very little is known about him, so there’s plenty of room for invention, embroidery, and imagination.

I’ve combined this prompt with the  dVerse  prompt, where De has asked us to write a quadrille(a poem of 44 words) using the word “close,” or some form of the word.








73 thoughts on “The Artist Says: NaPoWriMo2020, Day 6

      • I often think of birth, my husband a year old in Essex, and wondering if he knew when I was born in Philadelphia. Now I wonder if you knew, closer than Essex, and how we all ever got to know one another at all!

      • I was a toddler, still living in Philadelphia then–in Germantown. It would be funny if we had crossed paths when we were little. My grandparents lived in the city and other relatives lived in various parts of the city. . .so it’s possible!

      • It was Monmouth Street where my parents lived very briefly. My mother brought me back to be with her mother and my dad followed when my mother (of course) had found them somewhere to live. And probably to smooth things over too.

      • It was probably one of those memories I invented, like my distinct memory of the Queen Mary or whichever it was, sitting with my parents on the deck and watching the waves. Except my dad wasn’t with us, my mum never went out on the deck, and I couldn’t have ever seen myself as if I was a camera…

      • Hahaha. I have a memory of being in one of those old elevators where you pull the door and you can see through the metal lattice thing as you go up or down to the next floor. I was certain it was my grandparents’ apartment house, but my mom and my brother (he’s much older than me) say it wasn’t. If you had something like that in the place where you lived, I’m going to freak out. 🙂

      • Nothing so modern 🙂 There was a lift like that at my mother’s friend’s apartment block in Rome though…
        My mother found an old house up on a hill close to the moors. The same family had lived in it for several generations since it was built, Dutch people (no idea how or why they washed up there). It had the original range in the kitchen and the bathroom had been added on sometime before the first world war, an iron tub not only with lion’s feet but with steps to get into it. There was no heating except for the range and open fires. She (and I) moved into it as it was and a team of my mum’s friends from art school came over to paint and lay carpet, hang curtains and transport furniture from junk shops with the basics. By the time my dad arrived the it was habitable.

      • I meant when you were a baby in Philadelphia. Though of course you wouldn’t have remembered. I don’t think I would have liked your place. It must have been very cold in winter. I thought at first you meant you lived in Rome. 😀 We lived in a big old house on a tree-lined street in Germantown (not that I really remember), and then we moved to an ugly rancher in Dallas. I think my dad bought it without my mom seeing it. But it did have all the modern conveniences, including a/c. I do remember the honeysuckle bushes in the front and the gardenia bushes on the side of the house.

      • I was four months old when we left, so I don’t suppose I noticed much 🙂 I bet it was freezing in winter but children tend not to notice the cold and they had central heating put in before I got to the complaining age. The idea of a ‘rancher’ doesn’t appeal but honeysuckle bushes do. We have one here. I never knew it grew like a shrub.

  1. Pingback: A Shed of One’s Own | A Dalectable Life

    • Thank you so much, Jill. Yes, I think so much in this work can be taken in different ways–are the strawberries a treat, a temptation, a symbol of fertility? Or just delicious.

  2. Bosch was big on painting hell on earth. I do like the form you gave this. Unfortunately, strawberries this time of year, look good, but are nearly tasteless.

  3. Such intricate and fascinating art, and in 44 words, you’ve captured so much. I really adore this “wondering if once opened, my mind-doors can be closed–
    I have no answers.” So wisely wonderful!

  4. Where in the world was this guy’s head?! I find the painting fascinating and I can see why you spent much time as a child staring at it. I would have done the same! I think once the mind-doors open there’s no going back.

  5. Merril! Oh those strawberries – and I like how you got into Bosch’s head too. I’ve always enjoyed looking at this painting, I got introduced to it in art class during college. I’ve finally gotten to mine, I’ve been sick (ugh) so I’m 3 days behind and a bit de-motivated by all the poems hahahah!

    Now I’m thinking about a chimera strawberry and if it would be as lively as the tom-catting deck chairs.

    • Thank you! 😀 Hahaha. I don’t know about the strawberries, but I think can definitely see some other bits of this painting hanging out with the tom-catting chairs.
      I first saw this work in an art book we had in my house when I was growing up. It’s fascinating.
      Hope you’re feeling better!

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.