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In Puvis de Chavannes, the figures posed

along the landscape are other landscapes,

places we have been or mean to be,

(though their combined horizon stretches farther

than a man can see at one time--or in one lifetime).

The amphora poised on the slenderest shoulder

is how everything is balanced: the sky

supported by the columns of trees, the earth

suspended from their shade, and between the two,

the overall lavender and well-kept greenery.

No one can move without the river overflowing

or the pear dropping from the baby's reach.

Even we must stand this far away,

squinting from the other side of the stream

or into the stream itself. What do we see

reflected if not ourselves, posed there

a moment, before moving toward the next?

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Author:Rosen, Michael J.
Publication:The Nation
Date:Jun 16, 1984
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