Academic journal article Transactions of the American Philosophical Society

Renoir

Academic journal article Transactions of the American Philosophical Society

Renoir

Article excerpt

for Donald Davie

Under striped flutter of awnings, they have come

together this afternoon to glitter with

carafes and wine glasses, and the fluffy dog

perched on the table amid parings

of apples and peaches. They rehearse

a civilization here among

bright collaborations of sun. The two

gentlemen nearest us take their ease

bare-armed, in undershirts. At the next

table, brown jacket and bowler melt

into ingenious dapple and nonchalance,

and only the farthest gentlemen, vertical, sustain

in suits and top hats, a dark

decorum. And ladies, ladies-

bonneted, buttoned at neck

and wrists, yet ripe

with sleep: their cheeks

and half-closed eyes give them away.

Flesh is fruit, whispers brush and sunlight

wine; all cloth

dissolves. And when these chroma

and characters have faded

into the single, sensual blur of an afternoon

lost, there will remain

ghostly vermilion, hieroglyphic lips,

awning stripes and anemones that once

so vulgarly blazed, now dimming to

the mystic map of sprawl, spatter, and glare:

not Jeanne, Marie-Thérèse, Alphonse, Auguste, but thi:

this truest pattern, radiance revealed,

a constellation visible at dusk. …

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