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MacQueen’s Quinterly: Knock-your-socks-off Art and Literature
Issue 13: May 2022
Poem: 98 words
By Robbi Nester


After Rembrandt’s Three Musicians
A family sings together at the hearth, 
the father beating time with one hand 
on the pages of an open book. 
It’s an old song, one they’ve sung 
so many times before that both 
parents keep their eyes shut tight, 
while the young man looks askance, 
surprised to hear a deep voice, 
clear as water, rising from his lips. 
The music crests. At once, 
the river breaks its banks, 
drowning fields of uncut wheat. 
He will follow that voice 
up a thousand flights 
and down, till the end 
of the song. 


—From the poet’s book manuscript Picture This, which is available for publication.

Three Musicians: Painting (ca. 1624-25) by Rembrandt van Rijn
Three Musicians (An Allegory of the Sense of Hearing)*

Original oil on panel (ca. 1624-25) by Dutch Golden Age painter
Rembrandt van Rijn (1606-1669) resides in The Leiden Collection
(New York), one of the world’s largest private collections of Dutch art.

*Publisher’s Notes:

1. Details about the painting above are available at The Leiden Collection, owned by New York financier Thomas Kaplan and his wife, Daphne. Several paintings by Rembrandt are discussed, including two others that also reside in this collection, Stone Operation (Allegory of Touch) and Unconscious Patient (Allegory of Smell).

2. To learn more about Rembrandt’s Senses series, the earliest known works by the artist, see the article “Rembrandt’s Senses, Expanded (Scientific examination of a recently rediscovered Rembrandt reveals how—and why—it was altered 300 years ago)” by Dominique Surh in The Iris (24 May 2016), the blog of the J. Paul Getty Trust in Los Angeles (link retrieved on 16 May 2022):

Robbi Nester
Issue 13, May 2022

is the author of four books of poetry, including an ekphrastic chapbook, Balance (White Violet, 2012), and three collections: Narrow Bridge (Main Street Rag, 2019), Other-Wise (Kelsay, 2017), and A Likely Story (Moon Tide, 2014). She has also edited three anthologies: The Liberal Media Made Me Do It! (Nine Toes, 2014); Over the Moon: Birds, Beasts, and Trees, which was published as a special issue of Poemeleon Journal; and The Plague Papers, recently published online at Poemeleon Journal.

Her poems, reviews, essays, and articles have appeared widely in journals and anthologies, including Aeolian Harp VI, Book of Matches, Cultural Daily, Gargoyle, Live Encounters, Muddy River Review, North of Oxford, Rhino, Tampa Review, Tiferet, Verdad, and Verse-Virtual. She is an elected member of the Academy of American Poets.

Author’s website: www.robbinester.net

More on the Web: By, About, and Beyond

After Blossom, ekphrastic poem after an etching by Phil Greenwood in MacQueen’s Quinterly (Issue 3, May 2020)

Three Poems by Robbi Nester in Verse-Virtual (January 2020)

Law of Attraction, ekphrastic poem after Van Gogh’s Starry Night Over the Rhone, in Verse-Virtual (May 2019)

Night Tunnel, ekphrastic poem after a painting by Robert Rhodes, Philadelphia Night Train, in The Ekphrastic Review (21 April 2016)

The Locusts, ekphrastic poem after a collage of the same name by Mary Boxley Bullington, in The Ekphrastic Review (13 October 2015)

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