Portrait of a Lady

William Carlos Williams

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Your thighs are appletrees
whose blossoms touch the sky.
Which sky? The sky
where Watteau hung a lady's
slipper. Your knees
are a southern breeze -- or
a gust of snow. Agh! what
sort of man was Fragonard?
-- As if that answered
anything. -- Ah, yes. Below
the knees, since the tune
drops that way, it is
one of those white summer days,
the tall grass of your ankles
flickers upon the shore --
Which shore? --
the sand clings to my lips --
Which shore?
Agh, petals maybe. How
should I know?
Which shore? Which shore?
-- the petals from some hidden
appletree -- Which shore?

I said petals from an appletree.

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Comments2
  • LoraDavespcxqok

    I vaguely remember reading this enchanting piece when I was much younger. The intriguing juxtaposition of 'your knees are a southern breeze -- or a gust of snow' struck me once again today. There's something so mesmerizing in that line. It captures the vivacity and the contrary nature of human character, remarkably so. It felt like visiting an old friend when the familiar lines 'Which shore? Agh, petals maybe. How should I know?', cascaded across my eyes. So cryptic yet so familiar - a lovely experience indeed. The poem feels like a preserved piece of summer, marked by a fleeting youth.

    • halleyisenberg

      "Loved 'Portrait of a Lady', those 'thighs are appletrees' line really stuck. Oddly beautiful!"