On the Way to the Island

On the Way to the Island

On the Way to the Island

On the Way to the Island

Excerpt

THE EMBARKATION FOR CYTHER

--after Watteau


The picnic-goers beautified themselves,

And then set sail for Cythera, with jugs

To keep their coffee hot, martinis cold,

And hampers full of music. The water shone

For them that day, and like a street of jewels

Lay between their land and the island.


Their cockle hull was pretty, white and gold

As the Mozarteum, and their laughter picked

Its way, nicely as tunes of proper jump,

From port to starboard, gentlemen to ladies,

And return. They played their cards right, whiling

The day away by smiling and by thinking


Of the times to come, the banquets in the grove

On the antless island of that ancient idol

Love, the girl who rose to be the pearl

To deck them out. Thinking of her, each lady

Fingered her necklace, and sweet music tattled

From the spinet of her desire; each lord

Touched at his sleeve for the ace he'd hidden there.

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