WINSLOW HOMER - DRIFTWOOD detail|
self-portrait with the Grim Reaper
Winslow Homer has two pictures in Driftwood.
Literally, this is a painting about the large piece of driftwood the man is salvaging, but the literal subject is never the real subject for a poet, especially an obtuse poet.
To see Homer's real meaning requires that we appreciate his personal imaginative illusions and allusions. This painting is really a painting about the death of Winslow Homer, whose self-portrait is in the water as an illusion. We must also recognize the the fisherman, who is looking at the illusion of Homer in the water, as "the grim reaper" who has come for Winslow. Homer's mother and father are watching from above. His father looks down to Winslow. The Grim Reaper looks out to Winslow and gets ready to cast the rope.
Homer expects us to recognize the clues, such as the painting title or the log large enough to suggest the idea of a fallen mast, both specific allusions to Longfellow's poem The Fire of Drift-wood. With knowledge and imagination, we can connect the dots and see what Winslow Homer intended for us to see and we can think his poetic thoughts.
For a more complete understanding of Winslow Homer, it is necessary to appreciate him as The Obtuse Bard. Comprehending and appreciating his works will always be a new experience, because his works are visually incredible, with so many suprises and subtle images. This is just an introduction.