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James Whitcomb Riley

(7 October 1849 - 22 July 1916 / Greenfield, Indiana)

A Discouraging Model


Just the airiest, fairiest slip of a thing,
With a Gainsborough hat, like a butterfly's wing,
Tilted up at one side with the jauntiest air,
And a knot of red roses sown in under there
Where the shadows are lost in her hair.

Then a cameo face, carven in on a ground
Of that shadowy hair where the roses are wound;
And the gleam of a smile, O as fair and as faint
And as sweet as the master of old used to paint
Round the lips of their favorite saint!

And that lace at her throat-- and fluttering hands
Snowing there, with a grace that no art understands,
The flakes of their touches-- first fluttering at
The bow-- then the roses-- the hair and then that
Little tilt of the Gainsborough hat.

Ah, what artist on earth with a model like this,
Holding not on his palette the tint of a kiss,
Nor a pigment to hint of the hue of her hair
Nor the gold of her smile-- O what artist could dare
To expect a result half so fair?

Submitted: Friday, April 09, 2010

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