Tag Archives: Johannes Vermeer

The Coin

Woman with a Balance. Johannes Vermeer. 1665.
Woman with a Balance. Johannes Vermeer. 1665.

The Coin

Sara Teasdale, 1920


Into my heart’s treasury

I slipped a coin

That time cannot take

Nor a thief purloin,—

Oh, better than the minting

Of a gold-crowned king

Is the safe-kept memory

Of a lovely thing.


What value can be placed on beauty? Teasdale suggests that the memory of lovely things is more precious than material wealth.

A Pearl, a Girl

Girl with a Pearl Earring. Johannes Vermeer. 1665.
Girl with a Pearl Earring. Johannes Vermeer. 1665.


A Pearl, a Girl

Robert Browning


A simple ring with a single stone,

To the vulgar eye no stone of price:

Whisper the right word, that alone—

Forth starts a sprite, like fire from ice,

And lo, you are lord (says an Eastern scroll)

Of heaven and earth, lord whole and sole

Through the power in a pearl.


A woman (’tis I this time that say)

With little worth the world counts worthy praise

Utter the true word—out and away

Escapes her soul: I am wrapt in blaze,

Creation’s lord, of heaven and earth

Lord whole and sole—by a minute’s birth—

Through the love in a girl!


The Lacemaker. Johannes Vermeer. 1671.


Henry van Dyke


Let me but do my work from day to day,

In field or forest, at the desk or loom

In roaring market-place or tranquil room;

Let me but find it in my heart to say,

When vagrant wishes beckon me astray,

“This is my work; my blessing, not my doom;

Of all who live I am the one by whom

This work can best be done in the right way.”

Then shall I see it not too great, nor small,

To suit my spirit and to prove my powers;

Then shall I cheerful greet the laboring hours,

And cheerful turn, when the long shadows fall

At eventide, to play and love and rest,

Because I know for me my work is best.

Sonnet CXXIX


The Music Lesson. Johannes Vermeer. 1662.

Sonnet CXXIX

William Shakespeare


How oft, when thou, my music, music play’st

Upon that blessed wood whose motion sounds

With thy sweet fingers, when thou gently sway’st

The wiry concord that mine ear confounds,

Do I envy those jacks that nimble leap

To kiss the tender inward of thy hand,

Whilst my poor lips, which should that harvest reap,

At the wood’s boldness by thee blushing stand!

To be so tickled, they would change their state

And situation with those dancing chips,

O’er whom thy fingers walk with gentle gait,

Making dead wood more blest than living lips.

Since saucy jacks so happy are in this,

Give them thy fingers, me thy lips to kiss.

The Letter

Girl Reading a Letter at an Open Window. Johannes Vermeer. 1657.


The Letter

Amy Lowell


Little cramped words scrawling all over the paper

Like draggled fly’s legs,

What can you tell of the flaring moon

Through the oak leaves?

Or of my uncertain window and the bare floor


Spattered with moonlight?

Your silly quirks and twists have nothing in them

Of blossoming hawthorns,

And this paper is dull, crisp, smooth, virgin of loveliness

Beneath my hand.


I am tired, Beloved, of chafing my heart against

The want of you;

Of squeezing it into little inkdrops,

And posting it.

And I scald alone, here, under the fire

Of the great moon.