After Bonnard's Young Women in the Garden


© 2015 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris, Pierre Bonnard, "Young Women in the Garden"

Pierre and Renée (and Marthe)

Each day I rise to paint resurrection;
I carry this invisible burden.
I'm compelled to squeeze shut my eyes so tight
That there comes a pain, like a blinding light.
It is a white band of clinching tension,
A crown born of thorny false redemption,

Not quite forgotten, but miserably lost,
I'm a foolish old man, tired and worn.
My feet shuffle like sandpaper on rust
Searching for the artist that I once was.

Yet, with my oils and brush you are reborn.
I see thick silken strands from God's hands spun,
Flowing hair golden like the rising sun,
Sapphire eyes watch with kindness and love.
Then my subject comes growing more defined
Filling my canvass with beauty sublime.

You hold your weary face and gently smile
While sweetly dreaming of a better life,
The one you deserved, no sadness, no strife.
In Paris, perfection, everything's right.

"I'll return" became my unwitting lie.
I stayed too far, too long to hear your cries:
My inaction led to catastrophe;
I'm ever punished for passivity.

Her hatred hangs round my neck like a noose.
She's gone; I'm free, but the rope's never loose.
She sits before you in ghostly silence.
Hers is a profile of harsh defiance.
She handed me my commuted sentence:
Life without love; painting loss is penance

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