Mary Alice Muted

She is muted, not just in colour.
He has painted her in hues of dolour.
and taken away her voice.
I wonder, had it been her choice

to find herself so portrayed
in shades of violet, green and grey
to the modern art world’s eyes,
to be so closely scrutinised,

or did she trust the artist’s view.
Lacking softer tones of blue,
I wonder if she felt he was obtuse
when she found her beauty so reduced

to a muted but haughty and faceless
version of the woman that was Mary Alice? 

Kim M. Russell 23rd May 2023

‘Portrait of Mary Alice Eckbo’ by Thorvald Hellesen,painted in 1914.

This Tuesday Lillian is our Poetics host at the dVerse Poets Pub, having recently returned from a trip to the British Isles that ended in Bergen, Norway. As usual, she has returned with plenty of inspiration for prompts and poetry.

She tells us that she and her husband spent an entire day at the National Museum in Oslo, which contains Norway’s largest collection of art, architecture and design. While there, they saw a special exhibit of the artist Thorvald Hellesen (1888 – 1937).

Lillian has provided five portraits, all painted by Hellesen, from which she invites us to choose one to inspire us to write a poem. She says that there is no required poetic form, this is a very open prompt, which simply requires the use of one of these portraits as the jumping off point.


43 thoughts on “Mary Alice Muted

  1. LOVE the title here….and the way you question how she feels about this painting. Your description within the questioning/reflection is so perfect for the portrait. The rhyming adds to the poem….and how I love the ending! That version of the woman that was Mary Alice! 🙂 REALLY enjoyed this one!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for your comments, Lill. As I said to Björn, I put myself in her shoes to see how it might feel to have my portrait painted.


  2. I love the poignancy of this one, Kim! 😍 The questions you ask and the colour imagery – everything is so on point. My new favorite from you! ❤️❤️

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I enjoyed reading your answer to cubism, I don’t like it either. Your lady was too submissive for her own good, not good. Or she was being held in bondage. Either way I felt sorry for her.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. What a clever path you too, I love this, Kim … I do wonder what the subject might have thought about a portrait of himself / herself … every time I wander through a gallery. Cheers.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Wow, the rhyme is divine in this one, Kim! I enjoyed the pondering, which made me think about how many who have posed for such work in the past were portrayed in a way that did not compliment them.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I like the inspiration you drew here Kim — an effective snd well written piece my friend. 🙂👍🏼✌🏼 I wonder if that white thing she’s holding is a cigarette or not…. hmmm…

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your 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.