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Surprised by Art #3: Childhood WIldness

Welcome to the third episode of Surprised by Art, a new podcast where two art experts surprise each other (and YOU) with great works of art.

This is how it works. Each week you the audience can vote on a topic. This week you voted on the topic of "Childhood Wildness" Then Luc Travers selected a painting and Kirk Barbera selected a poem to surprise everyone with.

We wanted to give a special thanks to our voice recording volunteers! They did a wonderful job describing the painting. This week they were: Deanna Hekkinen of Pisan Academy, Rachael Rivera, and Jason Letman.

This is done primarily for an audio listening audience. You can hear them wherever you listen to podcasts. The podcast is tailored to explaining is as clear terms as possible the visuals in the painting.

Of course, we recommend that you also take a moment and look at the painting itself. We have provided an image below.

Give it a title. Doesn't matter if you are correct. Just think, what is the first word that comes to mind?

Then, give a literal description of everything in the painting.

In the show, we have various audience members doing exactly this, and if you listen to them this can help give you ideas on how to accomplish this investigation.

Lastly, interpretation. You can do your best on your own or listen to Luc and Kirk's exploration.


Here's the full painting:

The title of the painting is "In a Fohn Storm," by Mathias Schmid


The Poem



—It seems a day

(I speak of one from many singled out)

One of those heavenly days that cannot die;

When, in the eagerness of boyish hope,

I left our cottage-threshold, sallying forth

With a huge wallet o'er my shoulders slung,

A nutting-crook in hand; and turned my steps

Tow'rd some far-distant wood, a Figure quaint,

Tricked out in proud disguise of cast-off weeds

Which for that service had been husbanded,

By exhortation of my frugal Dame—

Motley accoutrement, of power to smile

At thorns, and brakes, and brambles,—and, in truth,

More ragged than need was! O'er pathless rocks,

Through beds of matted fern, and tangled thickets,

Forcing my way, I came to one dear nook

Unvisited, where not a broken bough

Drooped with its withered leaves, ungracious sign

Of devastation; but the hazels rose

Tall and erect, with tempting clusters hung,

A virgin scene!—A little while I stood,

Breathing with such suppression of the heart

As joy delights in; and, with wise restraint

Voluptuous, fearless of a rival, eyed

The banquet;—or beneath the trees I sate

Among the flowers, and with the flowers I played;

A temper known to those, who, after long

And weary expectation, have been blest

With sudden happiness beyond all hope.

Perhaps it was a bower beneath whose leaves

The violets of five seasons re-appear

And fade, unseen by any human eye;

Where fairy water-breaks do murmur on

For ever; and I saw the sparkling foam,

And—with my cheek on one of those green stones

That, fleeced with moss, under the shady trees,

Lay round me, scattered like a flock of sheep—

I heard the murmur, and the murmuring sound,

In that sweet mood when pleasure loves to pay

Tribute to ease; and, of its joy secure,

The heart luxuriates with indifferent things,

Wasting its kindliness on stocks and stones,

And on the vacant air. Then up I rose,

And dragged to earth both branch and bough, with crash

And merciless ravage: and the shady nook

Of hazels, and the green and mossy bower,

Deformed and sullied, patiently gave up

Their quiet being: and, unless I now

Confound my present feelings with the past;

Ere from the mutilated bower I turned

Exulting, rich beyond the wealth of kings,

I felt a sense of pain when I beheld

The silent trees, and saw the intruding sky.—

Then, dearest Maiden, move along these shades

In gentleness of heart; with gentle hand

Touch—for there is a spirit in the woods.


Kirk's simple summary: The poem describes the narrator's boyhood journey into the woods and the resulting pleasure and rage he experienced.

The Journey: The poem starts with the speaker describing the beginnings of his adventure. He is dressed for the outing and carries his 'nutting-crook' in his hand. It is his goal to harvest hazelnuts somewhere along the way. After exploring unmarked sections of the forest, he comes upon a pristine clearing filled with hazelnuts.

The boy relishes in the beauty of the scene and feasts on the nuts until suddenly his childish mind has had enough. He rebel against the peace and tears down the branches that covered him. After his rage, he feels both powerful and regretful. As he leaves, his forrest, his gentles touch returns and he departs without further incident.



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