Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Looking for the 'Why'

I had just finished reading Edwin Markham's poem The Man With The Hoe which is a rather dark piece and wondered what had made him write it when I noticed a footnote that said it was inspired by a painting by Millet, also called The Man With The Hoe. I didn't remember ever seeing the painting, so I googled it and the reason behind the gloom of the poem made sense. Both picture and poem can be found here - it's worth a read.

1 comment:

Shawn said...

Markham's poem was not so bleak as it was powerful and a wakeup call for those living in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. It has been reproduced in more languages and more times than any single poem in history. After it appeared in the San Francisco Examiner (as a result of a full-page ad being pulled at the last minute), it caught on like wildfire and became the battle cry for the proletariat of the world. It made Markham both wealthy and a household name during his lifetime. Nowadays, you would be hard pressed to find anyone remotely familiar with the poet or his work. You have good taste in poetry.