Girl at Sea

That crazed girl improvising her music.
Her poetry, dancing upon the shore,

Her soul in division from itself
Climbing, falling She knew not where,
Hiding amid the cargo of a steamship,
Her knee-cap broken, that girl I declare
A beautiful lofty thing, or a thing
Heroically lost, heroically found.

No matter what disaster occurred
She stood in desperate music wound,
Wound, wound, and she made her triumph
Where the bales and baskets lay
No common intelligible sound
But sang, “O sea-starved, hungry sea”.

— William Butler Yeats

The Yellow Sail by Odilon Redon:


4 thoughts on “Girl at Sea

  1. It’s a lovely exercise to match poems with illustrations. I like the common ground of this poem and painting: something slightly mythological / folklore-ish (typical, I think, of a lot of Yeats). I must look up Odilon Redon: a bit Chagall-ish…

    I hope you’ll permit me to put up a poem (below) by my alter ego, life-model Suki, who has two publications to her name already plus a joint poetry collection with me (I benefit from her reflected glory; she has a much bigger readership than I). As for a matching illustration: I think all of us can think of some drawings and paintings from our professional lives that would fit the bill…


    and I wonder, as I paint her singleness –
    so poignantly alone, up there on the podium
    in the freezing studio where the rest of us
    have kept our coats on, her skin pimpled, bluish,
    seeing a quiver ripple up her I wonder whether
    taking off her clothes, boots and ear-rings
    and ridding her mouth of lipstick (she does this;
    wipes it off on her forearm leaving her face stark naked),
    whether letting her body be so coldly looked at,
    strip lighting so harsh, so unforgiving, whether
    letting herself be treated so badly – all our eyes
    poking into her in this bare, chilly art-room –
    is an act of madness, or a mid-life crisis
    or her crying out like a masochist ‘Hurt me’.

    [in KUNST, illustrated poetry collection by Suki, 2012, UK]

    • artmodel says:


      Thank you for sharing your poem! It is so candid and honest. I know that chill in the air, and feeling of “singleness”, oh so well.

      These poetry posts are not as easy to put together as they may seem. It can be difficult to find a good match of poem and artwork. I absolutely love W.B. Yeats, and I also love Odilon Redon, who is not as well-known as I feel he should be. Google his work. I think you’ll like a lot of it. Dreamlike, beautiful colors and imagery.

      Great to hear from you!


  2. Jennifer says:

    I was excited to see another Odilon Redon image when I first read this poem – like the above commentator, you brought Odilon Redon to my attention. He fits so well with the mystical elements of poetry. It was also interesting to read the poem by Suki, which describes the thoughts of the art model so well.

    • artmodel says:


      I remember you being quite taken with Odilon Redon when I first posted his work! I think he’s wonderful. Expect more in the future! And yes, Suki’s poem communicates the art model’s experience incredibly well.

      Thanks for your comments!


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