THE DUTCH FUNERAL OF PETRUS VAN DER VELDEN AT CHRISTCHURCH ART GALLERY



Marken comes out in mourning for its dead
all solemn silhouettes against the snow,
escorts the black draped coffin on its sled.

Aged mother, brothers, sons, widow,
grieve one more victim of the Zuiderzee
all solemn silhouette against the snow.

The girl stares at the painter only she
can see, and neighbours watch at a remove
the price exacted by the Zuiderzee:

island life or death must sometimes prove
a stark equation for the herring catch.
The knowing neighbours watch at a remove.

The painter’s brushwork seems to snatch
a near-abstraction from around the edge:
hark answered in his hearing, catch

studio fiction, signed scrawled in the hedge.
Marken comes out in mourning for its dead.
Death’s a near-abstraction round the edge:

the black draped coffin on its sled.

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