Sharon and I just returned from a marvelous trip to several Northern European cities, Amsterdam chief among them. There of course we spent time in the incomparable Rijksmuseum, home to a glorious collection of its chief residents, Rembrandt and Vermeer. We then went next door to Van Gogh’s own museum. It was all a rich time, stimulating beyond belief.

In preparation for this grand visit, among other reading, I pulled from my shelf Marilyn McEntyre’s beautiful little volume of poems In Quiet Light. If you love Vermeer’s paintings, as I do; if you love paintings with exquisite detail, scenes full of drama, ordinary people who become extraordinary, and oh that dazzling light that illuminates every room—well this little book is a sheer delight. McEntyre presents a painting for each of her poems, each painting focusing on a woman—pouring milk, reading a letter, writing, gazing out the window, looking over her shoulder, that pearl earring gleaming—here they are in beautiful reproduction. And then, of course, we get McEntyre’s carefully crafted, delicately nuanced, startlingly insightful readings of each painting.

Seeing these paintings in person—nothing to compare! But when you go, take along McEntyre’s beautiful little book to help light the way.