John Crowe Ransom

April Treason

So he took her as anointed 
In the part he had appointed, 
She was lips for smiling faintly, 
Eyes to look and level quaintly, 
Length of limb and splendors of the bust
 Which he honored as he must. 

Queen of women playing model, 
Pure of brow but brain not idle, 
Sitting in her silence meetly, 
Let her adjective be stately; 
So he thought his art would manage right 
In the honest Northern light.

 But he fashioned it too coldly, 
April broke-and-entered boldly, 
Thinking how to suit the season’s
 Odor, savor, heats and treasons: 
Painter! do not stoop and play the host
 Lest the man come uppermost. 

Yet he knew that he was altered 
When the perfect woman faltered, 
Languish in her softly speaking, 
Anguish, even, in her looking:
 All the art had fled his fingertips 
So he bent and kissed her lips. 

He and Venus took their pleasure, 
Then he turned upon his treasure, 
Took and trampled it with loathing, 
Flung it over cliffs to nothing;
 Glittering in the sunlight while it fell 
Like a lovely shattered shell.

Strict the silence that came onward 
As they trod the foothill downward, 
One more mocking noon of April, 
Mischief always is in April;
 Still she touched his fingers cold as ice 
And recited, “It was nice.”