I love this painting, partly because I identify with it. It is the way I do housework, as my husband can testify with great exasperation.
It depicts a mystical moment, a respite in the middle of duties and domesticity.
Wordsworth thus described these mystic moments of illumination which come unbidden
Of aspect more sublime; that blessed mood,
In which the burthen of the mystery,
In which the heavy and the weary weight
Of all this unintelligible world
Is lighten’d–that serene and blessed mood,
In which the affections gently lead us on,
Until, the breath of this corporeal frame,
And even the motion of our human blood
Almost suspended, we are laid asleep
In body, and become a living soul:
While with an eye made quiet by the power
Of harmony, and the deep power of joy,
We see into the life of things.”
And these can happen even in the thick of domesticity!!
There is yet another poem which comes to mind when I think of Vermeer, one from Tagore’s Geetanjali.
I ask for a moment’s indulgence to sit by thy side. The works
that I have in hand I will finish afterwards.
Away from the sight of thy face my heart knows no rest nor respite,
and my work becomes an endless toil in a shoreless sea of toil.
Now it is time to sit quiet, face to face with thee, and to sing
dedication of life in this silent and overflowing leisure.