Superficially traditional, this 1923 sonnet on an artist and his model conceals some of the daring that made the author a groundbreaking modernist
In the Studio
Is it March, spring, winter, autumn, twilight, noon
Told in this distant sound of cuckoo clocks?
Sunday it is – five lilies in a swoon
Decay against your wall, aggressive flocks
Of alley-starlings aggravate a mood.
The rain drops pensively. ‘If one could paint,
Combine the abstract with a certain rude
Individual form, knot passion with restraint …
If one could use the murk that fills a brain,
Undo old symbols and beget again
Fresh meaning on dead emblem … ’ so one lies
Here timeless, while the lilies’ withering skin
Attests the hours, and rain sweeps from the skies;
The bird sits on the chimney, looking in.