The painting by Theodore Gericault, “Evening: Landscape with an Aqueduct,” seems to be a near close depiction of William Wordsworth’s poem “Lines Written At a Small Distance From My House, and Sent by My Little Boy to the Person to Whom they are Addressed.” It is as if Gericault’s paintbrush is taking direction from Wordsworth’s poetic expression.
In the painting we see a vision of perfection through the depiction of a day filled with leisure and great weather. There are several people swimming along the aqueduct, simply basking in what seems to be an air of peace. Similarly, in the poem, Woodsworth’s first words are that it was a “mild day of March.” The word “mild” meaning that the climate is neither too hot nor too cold, setting the tone for how one may feel tempered when reading the rest of the poem. The same feeling is evoked fromt the painting, where the sun light’s casting against the landscape and buildings, indicates the hour of dusk, hence indicating that a mildness has taken over that part of the day.
There also seems to be a Utopian fantasy taking place in both the art piece and the poem, when Woodsworth says: “Love, now an Universal birth/from heart to heart is stealing/from earth to man/from man to earth/-it is the hour of feeling.” Now, instead of looking at the art piece first, if the lines are read first, and the art piece is looked at thereafter, one will see that a perfect world has been projected. The illusion that “love” has been born on a “universal” level, meaning that everyone and everything is exuding a perfect sense of happiness and love, is entirely the definition of a Paradise world. In the picture we see men inside of the water, casually relaxing and enjoying the themselves. That part of the art piece could even literally have those words “From Earth to man, from man to Earth -It is the hour of feeling” placed in that specific spot on the painting.
The combination of the perfect weather and the gentlemen’s’ sense of peace in Gericault’s painting goes quite well with Wordsworth last line when he says, “for this one day we’ll give to idleness.” In other words, instead of carrying on with work, which is the daily protocol for survival, both painter and poet are saying that, instead, not worrying is the perfect way to enjoy life, and in that sense, the survival of one’s inner spirit is most important.
-Maricela (Marcy) Martinez