Monday, December 22, 2014

Poem of the Day: “The Boatman” by Christopher Hivner

Songs of Eretz Poetry Review is pleased to present “The Boatman” by Christopher Hivner.  Mr. Hivner’s work has appeared previously in the Review where a brief biography may be found:

The Boatman
Christopher Hivner
Inspired by Houses of Parliament, Sunset 1903, by Claude Monet

The boatman skimmed the water
broken shafts of sunlight
buoying his craft
as he traced the shadows.

The buildings loomed
stealing the dying light
to hold for tomorrow,
their reflections
river monsters in repose.

The lapping of the water
against the hull
carried the captain
to home,
calm reassurance
he was where he
was supposed to be.

With a wink
to the ministers on shore
he prayed
they did their job
as well as
he did his.

Sun setting,
another day ending,
the boatman skimmed the water
reaching for the horizon
on the other side
of the shadows.

Poet’s Notes: I’ve always loved the silhouette of Parliament among the swirl of color in Monet’s Houses of Parliament, Sunset (one of the series is pictured). But the longer I stared at the painting I couldn’t help but wonder about the man in the boat. Who was he? Why was he on the water? The boat is small so it seemed like a fisherman’s boat or at least one belonging to a workingman of some kind. With the sun going down I saw him trying to get home to his family, passing by the impressive buildings with equal amounts of wonder and disdain.

Editor’s Note:  This is a good ekphrastic poem.  I am willing to wager that most observers of the paintings do not give much thought to the boatman, so it is interesting that Mr. Hivner chose to tell a story from the boatman's perspective.

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