Wednesday, May 18, 2016

DMC: An excerpt from "The Children of Privilege" by Brenda Davis Harsham

"Essie, Ruby and Ferdinand, Children of Asher Wertheimer"
by John Singer Sargent (1902)

I will never live this down,
painted with my kid
brother and sister
when I should be dancing
at balls
or singing
in an opera
or traveling
the continent.
Instead, I will forever
be stuck here,
stinging my nose,
with no way
into the world.

Excerpted from "The Children of Privilege" 
© 2016 Brenda Davis Harsham. All rights reserved.

Laura Shovan has challenged us to write persona poems this month. Click HERE for more details. You don't need to include the artwork that inspired your poem, but you are welcome to as long as I can properly attribute the artist/photographer.

Send your poem to TodaysLittleDitty (at) gmail (dot) com, or use the contact form in the sidebar to the right. All contributions will be included in a wrap-up celebration on Friday, May 27th, and one lucky participant will win a personalized copy of her fantastic new verse novel for middle grade readers:


  1. They all look bored! Poor Essie, what a terrible thing with "turpentine stinging". Your poem shows much beneath the words, Brenda. Can't you imagine Essie stomping her foot?

    1. They sure do look bored. I imagine they had to bribed to sit still. I can't imagine my own children being willing to do it. How did they get the dogs to sit still? Even so, it's a beautiful painting.

  2. It's ironic isn't it? That a child of such privilege might feel they are stuck "with no way into the world." Yet how could they not be feeling "stuck"– it's written clear as day on each of their faces. Sad really. I love how you capture the essence of Essie in these few lines, Brenda. There's no doubt you have a verse novel in you, waiting to be written!

    1. The children of privilege are as stuck as anyone, and there's no where to go but down. On the other hand, who would sympathize except other children of privilege? No wonder they rarely leave their rarified air. Thanks for your support, Michelle.

  3. I can't help but think that the artist had this irony in mind when he painted the expressions. Oh, to be stuck with the stench of turpentine!

    1. Perhaps you're right, but would that have made the patron happy? It's funny to think of him saying, okay everyone look bored and trapped now... And the paying parents nodding, oh, yes, that will be a great political statement. LOL Perhaps they were subversive.

  4. You've peered into their child minds & shared exactly what's stewing there,
    stinging my nose"
    is brilliant,
    as is
    "with no way
    into the world."

    If this is an excerpt from a novel-in-verse in progress, brava!

  5. Essie's voice is strong but sad. Good job, Brenda.