Art Inspired By Poetry

Hunters in the Snow by Pieter Bruegel the Elder, 1565, Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna.


Bruegel’s breathtaking panoramic painting shows a scene set in harshest winter. The weary hunters returning home at the end of a disappointing hunt, the scene they are looking down on is spectacular and uplifting. The poem depicts the painter’s details perfectly, not the contents of the painting but the painting it’s self.

Hunters in the Snow, William Carlos Williams (1962)

The over-all picture is winter,
icy mountains,
in the background the return,
from the hunt it is towards evening,
from the left,
sturdy hunters lead in,
their pack the inn-sign,
hanging from a,
broken hinge is a stag a crucifix,
between his antlers the cold,
inn yard is,
deserted but for a huge bonfire,
that flares wind-driven tended by,
women  who cluster,
about it to the right beyond,
the hill is a pattern of skaters,
Bruegel the painter,
concerned with it all has chosen,
a winter-struck bush for his,
foreground to,
complete the picture.


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