The Parable of the Blind

William Carlos Williams

This horrible but superb painting
the parable of the blind
without a red

in the composition shows a group
of beggars leading
each other diagonally downward

across the canvas
from one side
to stumble finally into a bog

where the picture
and the composition ends back
of which no seeing man

is represented the unshaven
features of the des-
titute with their few

pitiful possessions a basin
to wash in a peasant
cottage is seen and a church spire

the faces are raised
as toward the light
there is no detail extraneous

to the composition one
follows the others stick in
hand triumphant to disaster

Pieter Brueghel, The Parable of the Blind (1568)

Oil on canvas, approximately 34 inches x 61 inches. Museo e Gallerie Nazionali de Capodimonte, Naples.

Return to the Poem Index