“Hansel and Gretel Are Lost” by the Artist – Rob Barber (Rob Steenhorst)

“Hansel and Gretel Are Lost” – by Rob Barber (Rob Steenhorst)

Hansel and Gretel are Lost
for the artist – Rob Barber (Rob Steenhorst)

Your pressed velour, socks tight and bright, hair combed and neat
Crisp innocence stopped upon a path with pink-flushed cheeks,
Are you not afraid? There’s a big bare ogre posed behind,
Spoon in hand, without a bowl and no main course on which to dine.
But no, you’re not perturbed, perplexed nor anxious as you slowly go
lost and yet serene, step by step, protected now from ancient childhood foes.

With lanterns in your hands clutched tight, walking while the light grows dim,
No fear pervades your small parade; you’re simply not afraid of him.
Both from a home that feeds and clothes you, with kind parents always hovering
Security has been their motto, under watchful eyes, and tucked -in coverings.
He melts into irrelevance, now flushed afar from nighttime stories,
No more chasing little children just like you, through poppy fields of morning glories.

The wolves who blow down huts of straw, or inside cabins wait and hide
pursuing you through penciled trees, teeth gnashing hard, mouths open wide.
They too are being condemned and sent away, for bad press they’ve received
And are vanishing from the storybooks, as no longer safe to hear or read.
And witches with their boiling pots, fattening children up to sup and dine
Are questioned for their inner meanings, then purged from bedtime’s story-lines.

It’s pretty ponies and talking cars and moppets with a social stance;
It’s dragons and wizards who can be tamed and used for a less scary dance.
And if your grandma frightens you with an ancient tale from a Brother’s Grimm
You could call the social services, have her hauled away on a moral whim.
Now you’ll no longer know about the Trolls, except those who haunt your parent’s blogs
And Giants, grinding bones to make their bread, are thrown into a trough for hogs.

This ogre plonked in place behind – hungry, shocking, seeming almost kind,
Is fading away into the backdrop without you paying him any mind.
Just maybe he’s pointing the way back home or maybe he’s sadly saying goodbye,
For soon no doubt, you’ll find your way, while he dissolves – a blind spot in your eye.
Invisible forever – No, he’ll never be a part of future nursery tales or rhymes,
His moment’s over, he has no place, in our suspicious and protective modern times.

Karima Hoisan
Nov. 26, 2015
LINC Island SL

* Footnote: Rob Barber has been inspiring my poetry since 2011. I met him in Second Life, and found his art to be always, thought provoking, beautifully painted, and hypnotic. He has been a visual muse since that first moment, and this poem is the 5th I have written for his works. You can see the others here on my blog, and I include his online gallery and his facebook page too. He has not seen my poem yet as of this posting, but has given me, once again, permission to “riff off” his art. My interpretation is just that, mine, and I found it a challenging but compelling piece to find the right words for. I encourage all to wander through his vast collection of a lifetime of art.
My Beloved Moth’s Burning Flame
Sea Swell
Sand Pit
Love Tease

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14 Responses to “Hansel and Gretel Are Lost” by the Artist – Rob Barber (Rob Steenhorst)

  1. Odracir says:

    Oh very nice! A wonderfully insightful perspective on a fascinating painting. Only you, Karima, could make me feel compassion for such an creature. What once was huge, ugly, and scary is now just forgotten, faded, and sad. Mixed feelings on his passing. I admit I do sort of like the pretty ponies and talking cars and moppets with a social stance 🙂 But still… something of us seems to be fading away.


    • Thank you so much Odracir for leaving your comment. Ugliness as well as Beauty is in the eye of the beholder:) Oh I like all those things too (especially pretty ponies) but we have purged our literature I think out of fear rather than thoughtfulness, and have left some lessons untaught… but in the end for me personally, it was the painting that inspired me to even ask myself what I think about all this.


  2. daleinnis says:

    A really interesting perspective, and an evocative poem around it. I saw him as indecisive between pointing them the way out, and having them for lunch 🙂 but you explained why he is fading into the background… How time presses on!


    • Hello Dale, and thank you for dropping by:) I think the “evocative poem” comes directly from the very evocative painting.. Rob Barber has a way of always making my head spin in various directions like a weather vane on top of roof, blowing round and round, until it finds the right direction- where the wind is really blowing. Time does press on, I had to search for that word ‘weather vane’ as they are rather a thing of the past now, that I grew up with:)


  3. joeysl says:

    Wonderful – I thought we were going somewhere totally different, so you led me astray with your words … How wicked :))
    Yes, it is sad. We do our best to protect the innocent, but by this make them unwary, unsuspicious and thus so vulnerable How difficult to find the right way.
    Love your poem, Karima!


  4. Oh Joey, that makes me happy that I “led you astray” You, who are such an astute wordsmith, not seeing where it was going, is a very cool compliment:) Yes, hard to find the balance of caution and over protection..and for the innocent,it is so very worth getting that right. Rob’s painting will leave lots to talk about and ponder for a long time I think..Dale’s word. ‘evocative’ is a good choice for what it does.. and I’m sure will continue to do..


  5. Hello Karima… Your text… You have grown as an artist in your writings… You can modulate your emotions and share them with the reader… From a melancholic aesthetic calm about the loss of what once was into an mild sarcasm about nowadays morals that celebrates consumerism and reject everting that might disturb it. Pity for them but life itself is disturbing and resist quite stubborn any attempt to fence it in. I myself slowly grow into the conviction that without magic thinking, mythologie, visionary imagination or just playful fantasy we can only exist as sheep. You seem to share that thought. You wrote about it without making it into some boring statement. Its one of the best texts i have read in a long period… I am very pleased with it. Many hugs, Rob Steenhorst


    • Thank you so much for your comment Rob. The artist’s comment, is for me, the one I wait for anxiously; as I was not commissioned to do a verbal explanation of your painting, but only allowed to say what it says to me. I am an Ekphrastic poet; so many of my poems are inspired by visual art, and as I stated, this recent poem, is my 5th poem inspired by your own art. I am so pleased that you think I have grown,and also that you found it a good, but not “boring statement” on what you visually are saying. Here’s to more inspirations…may they come when they do:)


  6. Ad Teulings says:

    Innocence? Yes. But Where’s the Sex? It seems to be there on the picture, for some reason. Is this poet affraid for the Inquisition? And that other contras: overdressed versus underdressed. Let’s call it naked. Silencio ad absurdum.


    • Art speaks to each one of us differently. For me the depiction of a flaccid male sex organ does not represent sex, except to define the ogre has one;he’s male. There is no interaction between the two… the children and the Ogre. Lasciviousness is also in the mind of the beholder. Thank you for commenting on my blog.


  7. First, let me say I go with your words Karima, losing the old myths and fairytales isnt the best that can happen. For many reasons, one is that most of the fairytales are full of socialcriticism. For me, in that Hansel and Gretel tale, the evil isnt the witch, the monsters are their parents. Abandon their children in the woods…
    Everytime my Mother told me the story, I had that warm feeling that that never will happen to me and my sister. And we all together sung that old song: “Hansel und Gretel verirrten sich im Wald” 🙂

    When I look at the picture, seeing the ogre (and being honest, the first time I heard about an ogre was in the movie Shrek), which I learned means something like cannibal:)
    This monster, is it a monster? Darn that picture has so many levels.
    If it is a monster a deadly evil monster, he lost his horror. I mean did you ever see a cannibal with a spoon? They have forks and knives, not spoons. An he is bright, slightly fading, not dark. And maybe he shows the right way for the children.
    But Hansel and Gretel, they have a light that shows the way, the way into that undiscovered country, reaching adulthood.
    Hopefully leaving behind the monsters under the bed, but also cherished friends from childhood days. Hansel looks like “wow whats that there?” while Gretel is thinking “O.o… lets be careful”

    An before I forget, yes that ogre is naked, uh oh:) So what?
    Following Karimas poem an I really agree with Karimas words and love her way of words, the ogre possibly represents that what Lévi-Strauss called “La Pensée sauvage” or “Savage Thought” or in German “Wildes Denken”. While Hansel and Gretel representing the modern western rationally consumerist society. But thats rationalistic:)

    Anyway, as I wrote, that painting has many levels and exegesis lies in the eye of the beholder.
    Maybe my thoughts are totally wrong or confused or both:) but that and more (deja vu) is what I feel, reading the poem and looking at the painting.



  8. Nat, as always you find the words..and such words! I loved the point you make first about the Hansel and Gretel tale…yes the parents abandoned them in the woods..but for some reason we remember the witch as the super-villan, when she is just doing what she has always done:) making soup from kids:) What Rob says is very true, real life (the unloving parents) “life itself is disturbing” and these mythological figures and imaginations that stray to monsters are also not born from a vacuum..they are born from what life has taught us, what we have seen. As you say, the figure of the Ogre can be seen from so many perspectives, and therefore the painting has many levels to ponder it from. The ogre’s nakedness seems incidental, and also in my way of thinking makes him even less fierce, less protected, less shielded. Yes I love what you say about the lanterns too, the light..and they do have a way, a means to find their way..we know when we see this picture, they won’t be lost for long. Our savage monsters of old are becoming no longer part of our picture..I agree with Rob, attempting to fence in “imagination and fantasy” will make us quite a boring herd..sheep he says, yes deprived of our own nascent magic. Thank you for this thought provoking comment Nat..hugss


  9. Hoyt Heron says:

    This is sooooo perceptive! This is exactly what is going on! The helicopter society that we have become, is trying to block everything from touching their children. It is only to be seen, what we have created. This is another masterpiece my ruca! How you can continue to get better is a mystery, but you seem to have an endless well of thoughts, ideas and words. I am in awe! Truly!


  10. Smiling from ear to ear, thank you Hoyt! I hope I will always deserve such lavish praise from you. You are my biggest fan..and ruco:) I hope to grow before your eyes…always!


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