Four Very Small Girls and Two Very Large Vases

painting

The Daughters of Edward Darnley Boit, by John Singer Sargent

Hello, there, Mummy, and hello, there, Daddy,
How was your lunch with the mayor and the rest?
You both look quite elegant, girls, don’t they look elegant?
We’ve never seen you so beautifully dressed…

What’s that you say, Mum? Where is the governess?
Well, she got a headache, and took to her bed,
We don’t understand why she suddenly had to go,
Something about a hammering in her head…

So we’ve been alone here, for hours and hours,
And we’ve been quite good here, with nothing much to do.
We’ve just been reading, and talking quietly,
Waiting, waiting for you…

You ask why is Julia leaning on the Chinese vase?
Well, it’s not because it cracked when she whacked it
With the spoon that cook uses to stir the vichysoisse,
It’s nothing like that, not at all…

And, oh, you ask, why is Mary sitting on the Oriental?
Well, it’s not because she’s hiding a jagged hole
That she made with daddy’s dagger –it’s just coincidental,
It’s nothing like that, not at all….

So we’ve been alone here, for hours and hours,
And we’ve been quite good here, with nothing much to do.
We’ve just been reading, and talking quietly,
Waiting, waiting for you…

And Florence is standing quite still in the way back
But it’s not because she’s concealing the place
Where she painted the wall with pudding and bootblack
It’s nothing like that, not at all…

And as you can see, my hands are behind me,
But it’s not because I’ve got your Symphony tickets
And I’ve torn them to bits because you wouldn’t mind me
When I asked you to stay home with us instead of going out…
It’s nothing like that, not at all,
No, it’s nothing like that, not at all.

©2012 Ajemian and Newcomb

2 Responses to Four Very Small Girls and Two Very Large Vases

  1. Oh wonderful! I was just reading David McCullough’s new book The Greater Journey about American artists in Paris, where he discribed John Singer Sargent and this very painting. The family was so proud of the giant vases that they shipped them to and from America each time they made the Transatlantic voyage. I think you have it pegged! I suspect Mr. McCullough would agree.

  2. Another fine book about the painting itself is “Sargent’s Daughters: The Biography of a Painting,” by Erica E. Hirshler. I couldn’t believe how far those vases traveled with them!

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