On page 210 of Tom Phillips’ A Humument, Phillips suggests that music and poetry can be used to create beauty out of an ordinary image or idea. Phillips uses two main colors for this piece: black and a very light tint of grey, which indicates the two factors, music and poetry working in harmony. He also uses patterns with his shapes, suggesting the rhythm of both arts. The most prominent feature, the flower, is the main subject of the piece, as it is surrounded by the numerous patterns.
Before any text, there are numerous vertical black lines that go across the page. Phillips places these lines close together, creating a vague image. The lines can be described as having a repeated or pattern-like quality to the general space they use. The continuous vertical lines imply that the subject of the piece will involve having patterns or rhythm to it. The text then begins at the end of the vertical line pattern, and below it, an array of other shapes take place. Corresponding to the text, the lines could also be the beginning of a story, told by the rhythm and patterns that follow, much like how a poem or song’s rhythm may describe its subject or subjects. Following the text, a series of shapes within one another are vertically placed in a large light grey rectangle. The smaller shapes are all within circles, which may be symbolic for eternity, since a circle has no beginning, nor end. The first circle contains a square that is tilted in a way such that its for corners point North, South, East, and West. The second circle contains a smaller circle, followed by the third which holds an oval, and then the fourth with a square. The fifth one has the same shape as the first, and a seemingly sixth circle looks to have the same qualities as the second. These shapes placed by Phillips suggest that there is a continuous pattern between these shapes. This is another pattern that suggests that the subject of the piece is music and poetry, for both have this quality to them. The piece seems to end with the image of a flower. The flower has the same color patterning as the rest of the page, yet it is the most beautiful image among the lines and common shapes. It is Page 21’s most prominent feature because of its distinct shape, shadows, and highlights. The flower is surrounded by different shapes and patterns, referring that the piece is the song or poem about the flower. The final text is also in the middle of the flower, signifying its importance.
The colors, shapes, and patterns are not the only features to Phillip’s piece. The text also suggests that music and poetry can describe something ordinary in a distinguished manner. After the initial vertical line pattern, the text begins. The narrator begins by telling the reader information that seems irrelevant to what he or she actually intends to enlighten the reader of. However, the narrator continues by suddenly changing the subject. “I married; and each time I’ve made thirty per cent on what I paid for it. Listen – shall I tell you one little good story?” This matches up with the initial pattern since it is the exposition of a song or poem, much like the image as a whole starts out with the simple vertical lines. The second piece of text is a compile of words from the original text, which are not in order as the first piece is. The first “sentence” says “The allusion Anacreon”. Anacreon refers to the Greek lyric poet who was notable for hiss love songs, drinking songs, and hymns. The use of the lyrical poet in Phillips piece suggests that the main topic revolves around an idea pertaining to a song or poem. The text continues with “To versational lyre called by a euphemism, amatory; and successful experiences were now poured into the Englishman’s ears…” The final piece of text is found in the middle of the flower. “The mere sound of the colour of a flower” suggests that the flower’s physical attribute is described through music. Basically the text states that in reference to Anacreon, his indirect meanings through musical poetry pertaining expressions of love and stories told to the character, perhaps the protagonist, could also be used to describe simple objects to create a beautiful piece of art.
In conclusion, Phillips use of patterns, harmony, and lyrical references are describing how poetry and music illustrate their subjects. Phillips ability to create meaning is clearly shown through his art.