Art and Culture

In Brueghel's great picture, The Kermess (1,12)

Well, you know this line must be important. It's both the first and last line of the poem. It's kind of cool that Williams chooses to bookend his poem with such a simple and straightforward line. This poem is a celebration of a great painting, and it makes no bones about it.

[...] the squeal and the blare and the
tweedle of bagpipes, a bugle and fiddles (3-4)

Though this poem is celebrating the refined work of a professional painter, it's also celebrating the less refined work of average ordinary people. When the lines above tell us that the music is squealing and blaring, we get the sense that it's not exactly Mozart. Instead, it's rough and rowdy folk music, which to the speaker is just as cool as any super refined piece of classical music.

their hips and their bellies off balance
to turn them. Kicking and rolling
about the Fair Grounds, swinging their butts (7-9)

We're guessing Natalie Portman's character from Black Swan wouldn't be too jealous of these dancers' skills (which is probably a good thing for everyone involved). All this off-balance butt swinging might not be too impressive to a person who only likes ballet. Even though these dancers aren't exactly the most expertly trained, they're totally having a good time. Again, we see this poem celebrating folk art as well as the great painting it's inspired by.

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