“Waiting for the Verdict” was painted by Abraham Solomon in 1857 and instantly gained popularity in the Victorian era. A close look at the painting should explain why. The painting is a poignant portrayal of human pain and anguish where a common man awaits the verdict of his trial with his family. The future of his family depends upon his acquittal. The painting is so beautiful and genuine in its portrayal of this close knit family that eagerly awaits the “not guilty” sentence for the anguished man. When I first saw this painting, unfortunately I had little idea how famous it was. But the painting was so well received in its own day that the painter was forced to paint replicas of it.
I made a very faint attempt at capturing the scene heavy with human anguish with a poem of my own. I hope you like it and that Abraham Solomon will forgive me for my gauche attempt.
i. The Man
Outside the courtroom hangs a life,
Tied loosely to a mortal tongue,
The Judge’s “Guilty” verdict cuts the tether by knife,
“Not Guilty” sets him free with children and wife.
Brows furrowed, gaze askance,
Five mouths to feed, a husband to lose
Face; the ashy color of worry, immobile in a deep trance,
So many lives hang by this man, whose life hangs to a mortal tongue
A heart painted with contrasting colors,
Besotted love for the grand children, pain for the son,
Smile askew on her sunken pallor,
Heart tied to the son, whose life hangs to a mortal tongue
A worried sister waits for the Messenger,
Who will bring the final Verdict,
Out to the family in the antechamber,
Sister prays silently for a brother, whose life hangs to a mortal tongue
The chamber colored in shades of brown,
Dark with human distress and self-berating,
The Chamber’s ceiling window painted like a church’s pulpit,
Under which sits the wretched man frozen in oil paint, forever waiting…
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