Szymborska on Vermeer

In the latest issue of the New York Review of Books there is a short poem by Wisława Szymborska with the title “Vermeer”, translated by Stanislaw Baranczak and Clare Cavanagh. The painting that forms the subject of the poem is “The Kitchen Maid”. Here is the painting, and the poem. image

So long as that woman from the Rijksmuseum
in painted quiet and concentration
keeps pouring milk day after day
from the pitcher to the bowl
the World hasn’t earned
the world’s end.

(The sense of arrested time in painting reminds me of the Gabriel Josipovici story “A Glass of Water”, which makes a nice counterpoint).