A Discouraging Model

A poem by James Whitcomb Riley

Just the airiest, fairiest slip of a thing,
With a Gainsborough hat, like a butterfly's wing,
Tilted up at one side with the jauntiest air,
And a knot of red roses sown in under there
Where the shadows are lost in her hair.

Then a cameo face, carven in on a ground
Of that shadowy hair where the roses are wound;
And the gleam of a smile, O as fair and as faint
And as sweet as the master of old used to paint
Round the lips of their favorite saint!

And that lace at her throat - and fluttering hands
Snowing there, with a grace that no art understands,
The flakes of their touches - first fluttering at
The bow - then the roses - the hair and then that
Little tilt of the Gainsborough hat.

Ah, what artist on earth with a model like this,
Holding not on his palette the tint of a kiss,
Nor a pigment to hint of the hue of her hair
Nor the gold of her smile - O what artist could dare
To expect a result half so fair?

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