The work of Thomas Hart Benton fascinates me. I saw an almost surreal but representative presentation that a fell somewhere between animation or cartoon and realism. I fell in love with the work before I discovered him to be local. The depictions of labor and working class subjects connected to me.
And then I saw Persephone. A girl I knew from the Ozarks had the poster, and the moment I saw it crystallized a personal interpretation in my memory.
The way I’ve seen it the girl has power – more than she understands, but she wields it masterfully. She is in, but not of, any relationship. Nature shapes itself to her, much the way “the Lord tempers the wind to the shorn lamb,” (a very old proverb favored by an English prof at FHSU way back in the day).
I saw the absence of desire in Persephone, and the frustration and desire of the farm hand.
It never occurred to me to note the name and research the myth attached. Until very recently, my personal meaning has been all I wanted.
Wikipedia is lacking. Not even a picture. Sarah Oesterling has a useful and accessible treatement on Sartle.