Marcel Proust: Anton Van Dyck

The sweet pride of hearts, the noble grace of things,
Shining in eyes, in velvets, in the trees;
The fine high language of address and dress,
The inborn vanity of women and kings!
Van Dyck, you’re a triumph; you’re the prince of calm
Gestures in these fine creatures soon to die,
In every trusting hand that beautifully
Still knows to open: look, she spreads her palm!

A halt under pines for the riders; nearby, a spring
Calm as they are, yet like them, close to sobbing:
Royal children, already grand and grave;
Defeated clothes, hats feathered to be brave,
And jewels like flooded flames, which somehow fill
These proud souls with the mounting bitterness
Of tears they refuse to let rise to their eyes.
And you in the pale-blue chemise, you above all,
Precious stroller, one hand propped on haunch,
In the other a leafed fruit plucked from a branch,
I can only dream of what’s meant by your look
in this shady grove: upright but comfortable.
Duke of Richmond! Oh young sage! Or charming fool?
The banked fire of the sapphire at your neck
Is soft as your gaze…it keeps me coming back.

Mary Jo Salter

Mary Jo Salter

Mary Jo Salter is the author of eight books of poems, mostly recently The Surveyors (Knopf, 2017), and is a co-editor of The Norton Anthology of Poetry.She is Krieger-Eisenhower Professor in The Writing Seminars at Johns Hopkins University.
Mary Jo Salter

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Author: Mary Jo Salter

Mary Jo Salter is the author of eight books of poems, mostly recently The Surveyors (Knopf, 2017), and is a co-editor of The Norton Anthology of Poetry. She is Krieger-Eisenhower Professor in The Writing Seminars at Johns Hopkins University.