Portrait

By John Frederick Nims 1913–1999
Seeing in crowded restaurants the one you love   
You wave at the door, tall girl in imperious fur,
And make for him, bumping waiters, dropping a glove,   
Arriving soft with affectionate slur.
As ladies half-turn, gazing, and men appraise
You heap the linen with purse, scarf, cigarettes, lighter,   
Laughing some instantaneous droll phrase.
As if sudden sun came out, the table is brighter.

All moods: at a party everybody’s delight;
Intent while brown curls shadow the serious page;   
When people are stuffy (more correct than right)   
The stamp and turn on heel of a little girl’s rage.   
But woman mostly, as winter moonlight sees,   
Impetuous midnight, and the dune’s dark trees.

John Frederick Nims, “Portrait” from Selected Poems (Chicago, The University of Chicago Press, 1982). Used by permission of Bonnie Nims.

Source: Selected Poems (The University of Chicago Press, 1982)

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Poet John Frederick Nims 1913–1999

Subjects Relationships, Love, Infatuation & Crushes

Poetic Terms Sonnet

 John Frederick Nims

Biography

An important translator and previous editor of Poetry magazine, John Frederick Nims (1913—1999) was equally skilled as a poet. Although Nims was born in Michigan, he spent most of his life on the other side of the lake, in Chicago. Generally a classicist in technique, Nims is also well known for his witty epigrams.

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SUBJECT Relationships, Love, Infatuation & Crushes

Poetic Terms Sonnet

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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