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David Campbell

(16 July 1915 - 29 July 1979 / Ellerslie)

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To The Art of Edgar Degas


Beachcomber on the shores of tears
Limning the gestures of defeat
In dancers, whores, and opera-stars –
The lonely, lighted various street

You sauntered through, oblique, perverse,
In your home territory a spy,
Accosted you and with a curse
You froze it with your Gorgon’s eye.

With what tense patience you refine
The everyness of everyday
And with free colour and a line
Make my mysteries of flaccid clay!

By what strange enterprise you live!
Edgy, insatiably alone,
You choose your tenderness to give
To showgirls whom you turn to stone –

But stone that moves, tired stone that leans
To ease involuntarily the toe
Of ballet-girls like watering-cans
(Those arguers at the bar) as though

In their brief pause you found relief
From posed dilemmas of the mind-
Your grudging aristocratic grief,
The wildcat cares of going blind.

Well, walk your evening streets and look
Each last eleven at the show:
The darkening pleasures you forsook
Look back like burning windows now.

Submitted: Tuesday, April 06, 2010

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  • Rookie - 393 Points Michelle Claus (4/19/2014 11:48:00 PM)

    This poem is superb.The art of Edgar Degas is captivating, and it causes us to wonder about the artist's obsessions. In this poem, we are presented with the sensitivity of Degas, as well as the aspect of him that disturbs our conscience. (Report) Reply

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