(Since I moved to WordPress, I haven’t figured out how to post a little, intermittently updating inset blurb, so I’ve stored some up.)
“Edulcorate” means ‘to sugarcoat.’ If you parse it, it literally means to draw the sweetness out of something (Latin ex- ‘out of’ + dulcor ‘sweetness’), presumably surfacing the object’s innate, inner sweetness, which is not the same as how it’s most often used, as to slap sugar on something from the outside brusquely and crudely, like with a palette knife, not even a detail brush.
“Virago” is a term for a loud, bossy woman. That’s great, because it literally means ‘to act like a man.’ Latin vir- means ‘man’ and gives us virile, virtue, and other lovely words. It’s Germanic cognate, wer, survives in werewolf and all the manifold multiform critters like werebear and wererat of the D & D universe. Add Latin ago/agere = to act, and the word “virago” means ‘manlike.’ We don’t hold a very high bar for men, apparently. Of course this term derives from a time when men were in control of politics and power, and for a woman to reach in to that realm was unfeminine to the point of condemnation. No comment.
Finally, in Italian, people make meatballs of others instead of mincemeat, cover their eyes with ham instead of burying their heads in the sand, choose a fish instead of picking a direction, and wish each other dreams of gold. Not sweet dreams. Golden, gilded, glimmering dreams.
In the category of Wonderful Things I Never Thought I’d Do, I officiated at a wedding.
It was on Halloween, or Samhain, or Dia de Los Muertos, or
Midterms, depending on your denomination. And it was an utter delight. This is
good news, as it was quite stressful for me in the months working up to it.
Contrary to popular belief, the ability to stand before a room full of
undergrads and talk about how we read myths judiciously is not the same as the
ability to enunciate clearly the knitting together of two souls before the
people who care about them most in the world.
But I did it. And I am grateful for the honor. And I had
such a lovely, lovely time, that of course, I have to write about it.
I was terribly, terribly nervous.
I was enchanted by the ritual of the thing. This couple—former
English majors and alumni from my school—wanted some literary reading, a Welsh
handfasting, and “whatever medieval badassery” I could come up with. Hours of careful internet and bookish
research convinced me that the formula was easy, but it was all about the
details. Such is life.
You need a greeting and a general spiel about marriage
and/or love. I got to say my version of “Dearly beloved” and mention that this
couple met in a literature class, and that went some way to explaining why I
was there, and why I was deploying William Butler Yeats instead of Ecclesiastes.
You need a reading—from a spiritual text typically, but in
this case, I read Yeats’s “The White Birds,” and the bride’s uncle read the
description of love from Victor Hugo’s Les
Misérables. (I hadn’t read
that before, and holy wow, is it beautiful.)
You need some rings, and some vows to accompany the
exchange. (I may have made a cheap Lord
of the Rings joke. I hope no one filmed. It was shameless.) And you need
some promises you know you can keep. In this iteration, the vows were
punctuated by the mothers of the couple binding their hands with a sash, and when they had spoken their vows,
they could literally tie the knot. That was very satisfying.
And then they smooched. That’s important too. It’s all
The vows are important; the words are important. The wedding vow is one of very few “performative speech acts” left to us in a literate society. As Westley notes in The Princess Bride, “If you didn’t say it, you didn’t do it.” But the march is also important. The recession of the wedding party, followed by the crowd. The first dance. The toasts. The cake. These are all formalities, all weighty, and all observed with remarkable consistency even at a wedding as funky and cool as a masquerade on Halloween.
Human life is formulaic. Our rituals are too. If we’re
honest, our arts are too—music, literature, even visual arts. We bear according
to pattern in so many things, from the genes we pass on to our children to our
“regular” dishes at our favorite restaurants.
And that’s just fine. Because we find ways to make each step
our own, while sharing enough structure to create bonds with others. Now this
couple has their wedding story to share. It is uniquely their own, with all the
goofy, delightful specifics and also its shared participation in a tradition.
And in that lovely way that events turn in to stories, and stories belong to
all who live and tell them, I now have a new story too.
I’m teaching Italo Calvino’s Marcovaldo this week, and the older I get, the more I get out of it. I’m so full of things to say, I have to sort through them or risk imploding.
Marcovaldo is the protagonist in a short novel that doesn’t
feel like a novel. It feels like a cartoon series to me more than
anything—short vignettes with a guy who is sort of a caricature, but also one I
can identify with sometimes and pity other times. The book’s subtitle is
“Seasons in the City” and begins to explain why some classify it as a mid-20th
century “nouveau roman,” or New Novel
in the French tradtion. It’s a series of vignettes organized by seasons, not by
events in an ongoing plotline.
The seasons pass in the city, but they pass more subtly than
in the provinces. And poor Marcovaldo–whose history readers piece together
from details dropped occasionally, but even more from his attitudes toward the
world–must have been raised in the country, been drafted in to service during
World War II, and later moved to the city where all the jobs were to raise his
All the jobs, but none of the humanity. All the jobs, but
very little from the natural world.
He finds himself trapped in a demeaning job, resentful of
the family he struggles to support; the story reads like a list of repeated
attempts to escape.
So he’s an idealist in the sense that he thinks he can
stumble in to a scheme that will rescue him from this. In the first chapter he
finds mushrooms growing wild in the dirt near a tram stop, and he immediately
plans a huge feast for his family—watching the mushrooms grow and bringing his
kids to help gather them by the hundreds.
In another chapter, he reads in an old newspaper that bee
venom has been used to treat rheumatism, and he turns his one-room basement
apartment into a clinic, applying angry wasps to people’s skin under a paper
cup. He’s receptive to the natural world and its opportunities.
But this is the city. The only mushrooms that grow there are
poisonous. The wasp clinic (obviously) goes south and lands him in the
hospital. He doesn’t give up, but readers can get tired for him, as he tries
one way after another to get something for nothing.
Students sometimes get hung up on this aspect of him and
label him as greedy. So this time I’m going in ready to redirect that line of
thought. It’s not wrong; it’s just superficial.
First, Marcovaldo is poor. He’s not so much greedy as he is
desirous of pretty reasonable things—enough space to house his family
comfortably, enough food for them all to eat, enough time to enjoy the world
around them. He’s an unskilled laborer with a wife and six kids. His wife has
to be home to raise the kids, so it’s all on him to provide for eight people.
That he continues to do that seems admirable to me. That he also looks for
moments of delight and opportunities out seems healthy.
That is where I’ll start this time. He’s not greedy; he’s
He’s also lots of other things. He’s an early
environmentalist; he notices and cultivates the natural world; in fact, he yearns
for it. He’s a class warrior, showcasing the inequities in post-war Italy. He’s
full of childlike wonder, always looking for butterflies and stopping to watch
birds fly. He’s also kind of a caricature of Calvino—an introverted,
disillusioned, middle-aged dreamer. He’s not yet Mr. Palomar, but he’s moving
in that direction.
And now I’m thinking I need to write a paper about Marcovaldo. Maybe that would help get him out of my head, like listening to the whole song does, when I have a line repeating in my mind. I need to do something to stop channeling him. Because I can’t stop looking for butterflies and noticing the sunlight hitting pine boughs and freezing when I hear birdsong to see if I can find the bird. I just live in an area with too many birds for that kind of behavior to be practical. 😀
Apollo is the god of light in the sense that he inspires all things we associated with enlightenment: culture, arts (especially music and poetry), civilization, reason, medicine, and prophecy. As the sun, he IS light. So everything he touches is illuminated or illuminating. Latin lux/lucere à English light. (Never trust a vowel.)
But when Italo Calvino writes his essay on “Lightness” in Six Memos for the Next Millenium, he’s
not talking about brightness or illumination; he values weightlessness in the
fabric and content of literature. This comes from Gothic leihts, and Latin went the leviarius/(“leviosa”)/levity route.
When I teach this essay, someone always asks if he means
lightness like the quality of being bright or lightweight. If we were reading
the original, the question would not come up; it’s entitled “La Legerezza,” of which we only have a
relic in “legerdemain”—sleight of (or lightness of) hand. In Italian the word for bright light is la luce.
Also if you read very far in to the essay, Calvino makes this
distinction abundantly clear, but if you are an English reader who imagined
brightness first, it can be hard to let go of. After all, we want our
literature to be illuminating, don’t we? To light fires in our minds and to
shine light on problems and people and practices. Good books do that.
That’s not what Calvino meant. He wouldn’t be so moralizing,
to begin with. But he was aestheticizing. (I know that’s not a word in the
sense of prescribing literary values, but I want it to be.) He was interested
in defining ideals of literature, not humanity.
He strove to remove weight from his works, sometimes in
terms of content (like making a suit of armor trot around empty, without the
weight of a body inside[The Nonexistent
Knight] or like reducing gravity’s pull so that people could float up to
the moon [“The Distance to the Moon” in Cosmicomics,
which is the basis for the Pixar short “La Luna”].
He also tried to remove weight from his prose, so that it
seemed somewhat diaphanous. He quotes Emily Dickinson as an example:
A sepal, petal, and a thorn
Upon a common summer’s morn—
A flask of Dew—A Bee or two—
A Breeze—a caper in the trees—
And I’m a Rose!
Occasionally one of my students will dig in, claiming that it is a
higher good to strive to be illuminating than weightless, to which I can only
respond that he’s talking about style, and that doesn’t have a moral
obligation. Calvino means literature should tread lightly; it should lighten
our load by lifting us above the weight of the world and in to the flight of
the clouds and imagination. It should inspire contemplation, which is
completely abstract and therefore weightless, and it should do so by means that
feel light: literature’s form (lightened prose) should follow its
function—lightening our spirits.
What began as an etymological exercise has turned in to an analysis
of Calvino’s essay, which I didn’t plan on. But I have read and taught and
thought about that essay so many times, it is hard for me to think of lightness
in any form without also thinking of Calvino’s words. At the risk of sounding
repetitive, it’s all connected.
Have a good weekend, y’all. Enjoy the light of the Harvest Moon.
This is the summer of non-blogs. And I’m a day late again.
I thought of not posting at all again, but that seemed a
I’m not posting readily this summer because while my summer
has had bright spots I would normally post about (a card-making crop, some
great books, and some other wonderful moments), this summer has also been plagued
with ICE raids and mass shootings, and it seems flippant to say it’s a lovely
summer when it’s not.
I am torn. I am doing what I can to help, but it doesn’t seem like enough. I am trying to keep myself strong so I can lift up others, and I am sending more cards to people just to cheer them up than ever before, but I’m not blogging consistently. The kinds of blogs I tend to write threaten this summer to make me sound like a tone-deaf happy-ass. I am a happy-ass. I hope I’m not tone-deaf.
I don’t know what to offer here this week, but I will say I
squarely still believe in humanity and in the power of little things to overwhelm
the world with goodness. I also hope we can get some big things straight in
terms of more humane policy in the near future, so there’s not quite so much
pressure on the little things to make us happy.
Meanwhile, I wish you all strength and hope and light above all. Shine on, you beautiful people.
And before I leave, here is a poem by Lawrence Ferlinghetti entitled “Poetry as Insurgent Art.” Enjoy.
“I am signaling you through the flames.
The North Pole is not where it used to be.
Manifest Destiny is no longer manifest.
Nemesis is knocking at the door.
What are poets for, in such an age? What is the use of poetry?
The state of the world calls out for poetry to save it.
If you would be a poet, create works capable of answering the challenge of apocalyptic times, even if this meaning sounds apocalyptic.
You are Whitman, you are Poe, you are Mark Twain, you are Emily Dickinson and Edna St. Vincent Millay, you are Neruda and Mayakovsky and Pasolini, you are an American or a non-American, you can conquer the conquerors with words….”
I don’t really have anything to say today. I didn’t last
week either, so I skipped a week, and I almost never skip weeks, so… you know…
I’m here tonight. But I still don’t have anything, really.
What do I have?
I have some free time, having completed the draft of a paper
whose deadline I just barely busted. Tuesday night is still “early in the week,”
I have some complicated feelings about Independence Day,
since I’m grateful to live in a country that allows me to say how disappointed
I am in us right now.
I have my grandma’s tea cups and her love of quiet,
I have a really splendid family, who chose to celebrate our
freedom by grilling hotdogs and playing a new board game. My partner got to use
his firepit, and the girly made a monster fruit salad.
I have arthritis in my feet. Who knew? So I have some new
foods in my diet and am cutting down on others, to do what I can to slow its advance.
I have some fear, but mostly hope for our future as a
country and as a planet. I have a well-developed sense of wonder at the beauty
of the world and the ingenuity of people who screw it up, but also rally to fix
I have enough stamps that I can pick and choose from a
variety of sets and materials and get more use out of them than they’re marketed
for. And I have a partner who likes to see me happy, so encourages my hobby
rather than complaining that it’s too expensive.
I have “Dirty Little Secret” stuck in my head. It’s my
daughter’s fault. It’s on her playlist.
I have a daughter who
plays music while she tidies the kitchen.
I have lots of memories of fireworks and parks and watermelon
and parades and my parents from my happy childhood. I have some holes in my
heart where people like my parents have taken little bits of me in to the beyond.
I have a stack of academic books to be returned to various
libraries, some classes to plan, a letter of recommendation to write, some
portfolios to assess, and a fall schedule to tidy up… next week.
And I have a cat walking across my desk, telling me to wrap
this up and pet her already.
If you’re still reading, I wish you a wonderful evening, a
heart full of hope, and enough of whatever makes you happy.
On the one hand, we need to rest; teaching is exhausting
both intellectually and emotionally (in addition to physically). On the other
hand, as a group, we’re not particularly good at it.
There are conferences to attend, research to pursue, classes
to update, texts to consider, lessons to plan, and administrative work that
does not end when the students go home.
See? I have already started. Summer, for me, is about lists.
I have begun. I have made the List of Lists for this summer.
It is inclusive, if not exhaustive, of all the things I want to do in the next
For work, I will write an article, choose and prepare lessons for a new book, meet with Teaching Assistants to orient them for their first semester, and prep a class I haven’t taught in a while. This class needs to be updated for semesters, which includes finding a couple of additional books and planning lessons for them and shifting the entire syllabus, since my school’s switching from a Quarter system to a Semester system changes… everything. And then there’s the more intangible “work” I don’t get paid for, which include writing this blog and pursuing that dream of being a novelist–by finding an agent for the first book and getting past chapter three on the next one.
So much for the myth that teachers have summers off.
All those items are handily subdivided in my bullet journal
in tangible, “actionable,” bite-size pieces.
After work, of course, there will be other lists. I’m still
working on learning Italian, but my conversation partner is in Russia for the
summer, so there are lists of movies to watch, verbs to study, books to read
with a dictionary close to hand, and levels of language apps to power through.
What is that? Is that work? It will help me teach Dante. Is
it Self-Care? I’m staving off dementia, you know. Is it relaxing time? Sure.
But also no. Whatever. There’s a list for it.
Summer is also time for home. We have some Home Improvement-type
projects going, including fixing the infamous Bee Pillar for real. It is
functional (read: it keeps bees out) at present, but it is not pretty. So the
first item on the list is Prettifying the Bee Pillar. In fact, if we kept the
list just to Finishing Projects We Started Ill-Advisedly Before Summer And Had
to Abort, we would fill our summer. But we’re optimists, and we have an idle-ish
pair of teens, so we’re overstuffing that list as well.
I also do a Summer Purge, where I go through a room at a
time and find stuff to donate and “share” with friends and fellow teachers
(mostly books for understocked classrooms). There are lists for that, and officially,
the whole purge is just one item on the Master List.
And we really should do some of that stuff they call Self-Care. In fact, it probably should be first. Things that refuel me at the end of the year include sleeping well past 6 am, staring numbly at the wall—preferably while holding a cat, reading pulp fiction and Other Books I Never Intend to Teach, and doing Crafty Sorts of Things.
I should also have a list for Health. So I do. I have every
good intention of improving my diet (that’s worth a whole page in my bullet
journal), maintaining my water intake when there’s no built-in measure of “a bottle
per class,” upping my normal routine of dog-walkies to include elliptical
training, and stretching my stupid Achilles tendon ten bloody times a day to
combat my tendonitis. Yes, some of my lists are written for me.
It’s ok, though. Every time I generate a list, I relieve a
little anxiety. Right now, with my summer neatly organized in a series of headers
with cascading columns of items to check off, I am cool as a cucumber.
Italo Calvino’s essay on “Exactitude” exhorts tight, vivid writing
and the continual quest for the mot juste.
In each of his Six Memos for the Next
Millenium, he presents a pair of contrasting qualities literature can have,
and then he comes down on one side as being closer to his own practice and of
most use to readers in the 21st century. So in the essay on Lightness,
he also considers weight or gravitas, and says he simply “has more to say about
lightness”(Six Memos 3).
This pattern holds for the remaining four essays—Quickness,
not lingering; Exactitude, not vagueness; Visibility, not abstraction; Multiplicity,
not singularity. He died before writing the sixth: Consistency.
Today a student expressed frustration with his even-handedness.
If he’s going to argue for one side being better, why not stick to that? The
short answer is because it’s complicated (as everything important is). The
longer answer is because he sees the value of both traits in different contexts
and in the interest of living a rich reading life. The deeper answer, I think
in retrospect, is that while he chooses the side he most naturally leans
toward, he admires and even envies those who occupy the other side. Today it came
up in terms of teaching styles and professors.
When Calvino argues for the Party of the Crystal and the
Party of the Flame, he conceives of placing authors in camps who favor structure
over stream of consciousness—intrinsic order over associative, digressive,
As I was explaining this dichotomy, I put it in terms of
pedagogy. When I was in college, I had two professors who taught entirely
differently. One came in every day and put a list of topics on the board, and
no matter how esoteric the subject (I took themed courses entitled “Philosophy
of Love” and “Philosophy of War” from her), we marched through those topics, in
order and in detail. When I left, I knew what I had learned. I felt like there
was significant content added to my brain every day.
Another professor in the same department delivered content
completely differently. I thought of him as a juggler of ideas. He came in and
brought up one subject, which led to a discussion of a related subject, which
led to another, like a juggler adding balls without your noticing. All those
balls seemed to float in the air above us, one idea connecting to another, with
students questioning and adding and variously contributing to the aerial show until
it was time to wrap up. And when he did wrap up, all those topics seemed to fold
back in on each other like Chinese puzzle boxes, and I sat in awe of how many
disparate subjects and ideas seemed seamlessly connected in his lectures.
The juggler was a flame. The list-maker was a crystal.
When I realized that, I recognized the pull in Calvino’s
essays toward the opposite side of each binary. He is a crystal, but he admires
those who embody the flame in part because he could never pull it off. Every
impulse he has directs him toward structure that builds meaning and reveals
order. But that doesn’t mean he doesn’t marvel at the apparent magic and mystery
of the flame and those who embody it.
I know because as I was talking about my professors, I found
myself envious of the list-maker. I can start with a list, but when I’m done,
if we’ve hit 40% of those items in a class, I’m doing pretty well. I more often
follow the interests and experiences of my students, so every class goes where
they are more than where I guide. I would never compare my classes to the virtuosity
of my idea-juggling magician, but I’m no crystal when it comes to teaching, and
I stand in awe of those who are. Students respond well when they can leave with
that feeling of having completed a list of tasks and mastered a body of knowledge,
and I wish sometimes that I could give that to them. I can’t. I do something
else which I think also has value, but I totally get where Calvino feels compelled
to do justice to both sides, even though he favors one himself.
If I’m honest, it’s probably why I love him. I am a happy
flame, but I remain fascinated by the crystal and its particular beauty.
If I am a lover
of form in verse, I am no less enamored of poetic prose. I don’t know why more
people don’t write prose poems. Some poems, in fact, I think would lose none of
their charm if we just let them be prose instead of forcing line breaks that can
So tonight, on
what social media has just informed me is World Book Day, I offer some baby
books for the harried, along with a brief introduction.
Prose poems are
compact, usually a paragraph to a page or two. Shorter than most fiction, they
tend not so much to tell a story as to convey an evocative image. The density
of their language and their use of figurative language often used in poetry
make them seem like a verbal inoculation against sloppy writing—they remind us
that language can be precise and powerful without meter or rhyme, and they
leave us with an image or idea that we can carry in to the world.
They are perfect for evenings when you just have a little time and want to indulge in something like candy for your brain. My choices tonight hearken back to where I first encountered the prose poem—a French literature class in college—so one is from the 19th century Baudelaire (who is often compared to Edgar Allan Poe, even by himself) and the 20th century Francis Ponge, who became something of an icon in prose poetry, known for minute description and crystalline imagery.
“Be Drunken” by Charles Baudelaire
BE DRUNKEN, ALWAYS.
That is the point. Nothing else matters. If you would not feel the horrible burden
of Time weigh you down and crush you to the earth, be drunken continually.
what? With wine, with poetry, or with virtue, as you please. But be drunken.
sometimes, on the steps of a palace, or on the green grass in a ditch, or in the
dreary solitude of your own room, you should awaken and find the drunkenness
half or entirely gone, ask of the wind, of the wave, of the star, of the bird,
of the clock, of all that flies, of all that sighs, of all that moves, of all
that sings, of all that speaks, ask what hour it is; and wind, wave, star,
bird, or clock will answer you: “It is the hour to be drunken! Be drunken, if
you would not be the martyred slaves of Time; be drunken continually! With
wine, with poetry, or with virtue, as you please.”
“Rain” by Francis
The rain, in the backyard
where I watch it fall, comes down at different rates. In the center a fine discontinuous
curtain — or network — falls implacably and yet gently in drops that
are probably quite light; a strengthless sempiternal precipitation, an intense
fraction of the atmosphere at its purest. A little distance from the walls to
the right and left plunk heavier drops, one by one. Here they seem about the size
of grains of wheat, the size of a pea, while elsewhere they are big as marbles.
Along gutters and window frames the rain runs horizontally, while depending
from the same obstacles it hangs like individually wrapped candies. Along the
entire surface of a little zinc roof under my eyes it trickles in a very thin
sheet, a moiré pattern formed by the varying currents created by the
imperceptible bumps and undulations of the surface. From the gutter it flows
with the restraint of a shallow creek until it tumbles out into a perfectly
vertical net, rather imperfectly braided, all the way to the ground where it
breaks and sparkles into brilliant needles.
Each of its forms has its particular allure and corresponds to a particular
patter. Together they share the intensity of a complex mechanism as
precise as it is dangerous, like a steam-powered clock whose spring is wound by
the force of the precipitation.
The ringing on the ground of the vertical trickles, the glug-glug of the
gutters, the miniscule strikes of the gong multiply and resonate all at once in
a concert without monotony, and not without a certain delicacy.
Once the spring unwinds itself certain wheels go on turning for a while, more
and more slowly, until the whole mechanism comes to a stop. It all vanishes
with the sun: when it finally reappears, the brilliant apparatus evaporates. It
*The Baudelaire poem was printed in Baudelaire, Rimbaud, Verlaine: Selected Verse and Prose Poems and translated
by Joseph M. Bernstein. Citadel Press 1990.
I love sonnets. I love villanelles. I love heroic couplets.
I love words
that have been wrought, not just lined up. I love rhyme, alliteration, and
meter. Especially meter. That’s where the music lives.
Not that I don’t love free verse. I do. Not that I don’t love prose fiction. Of course I do. But I adore the extra intensity delivered by metrical verse, and I relish the extra engagement it takes both to read it and to write it.
Today I’m thinking about sonnets. Generally speaking, a sonnet is fourteen lines of iambic pentameter. Iambic pentameter, the marching, grave meter of ten syllables in an alternating pattern of weak/strong, weak/strong, weak/strong (five times, so pentameter) is the favored form for serious verse in English since the time of Chaucer. As an “iamb” is two syllables, a weak one followed by a stressed one, like ‘about’ or ‘before’ or ‘Denise,’ a line of iambic pentameter can feel as regular as a drumbeat: “My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun.”
Sonnets come in two varieties: the English or Shakespearean and the Italian or Petrarchan. Shakespearean sonnets, made famous by his prodigious ability and volume, divide the fourteen lines in to three quatrains and a couplet. These stanzas are often bound by rhyme, and the couplet at the end feels like a punchline or a conclusion the poem has been building up to with each stanza adding a different facet. It’s the “five paragraph essay” of the poetry world, and the thesis is the couplet at the end.
sonnets work differently. Divided in to two stanzas of eight and six lines (an
octet and a sestet), they lend themselves to different content. The first, longer
stanza often sets a scene or makes a statement, and then the second, shorter
one responds in some way—sometimes showing the flaw in the first image, or its
faulty reasoning, or maybe just digging deeper in to it—questioning, exploring,
or reflecting. This type of sonnet feels more like a debate than an essay, with
the first position of the octet countered in the sestet.
So it’s a
little form. You can read them quickly or linger over their construction. But
they pack a big punch. They have to. They don’t have the space of a novel or
even a ballad—just fourteen lines in which to make you sigh or wonder or weep.
for the road. Christina Rossetti’s vision of an artist’s model. Enjoy.
“In an Artist’s Studio”
One face looks out from all his canvases, One selfsame figure sits or walks or leans: We found her hidden just behind those screens, That mirror gave back all her loveliness. A queen in opal or in ruby dress, A nameless girl in freshest summer-greens, A saint, an angel–every canvas means The same one meaning, neither more or less. He feeds upon her face by day and night, And she with true kind eyes looks back on him, Fair as the moon and joyful as the light: Not wan with waiting, not with sorrow dim; Not as she is, but was when hope shone bright; Not as she is, but as she fills his dream.