Letter to Whistler

—after Mallarmé

Not the ruffled irrelevant gusts
such as occupy the streets
subject to the dark flight of hats,
but a dancer appearing

in whirlwind of muslin or fury
scattered into spindrift
she uplifts with her knee—
this same she for whom we lived—

in order to blast with the tutu
all, apart from him, that’s hackneyed,
droll, drunken, sluggish,
with no other hint of rancor

than laughter that puffs the air
of her skirt to fan Whistler.

Stéphane Mallarmé: Billet à Whistler

Pas les rafales à propos
De rien comme occuper la rue
Sujette au noir vol de chapeaux;
Mais une danseuse apparue

Tourbillon de mousseline ou
Fureur éparses en écumes
Que soulève par son genou
Celle même dont nous vécûmes

Pour tout, hormis lui, rebattu
Spirituelle, ivre, immobile
Foudroyer avec le tutu,
Sans se faire autrement de bile

Sinon rieur que puisse l’air
De sa jupe éventer Whistler.

William Wenthe

William Wenthe

William Wenthe's fifth book of poems, The Gentle Art, which has much to do with the life and art of James McNeill Whistler, will be published by LSU Press in 2023.  He has received awards from the NEA, the Texas Commission on the Arts, and two Pushcart Prizes.
William Wenthe

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Author: William Wenthe

William Wenthe's fifth book of poems, The Gentle Art, which has much to do with the life and art of James McNeill Whistler, will be published by LSU Press in 2023.  He has received awards from the NEA, the Texas Commission on the Arts, and two Pushcart Prizes.