On a Picture by Cézanne

By W. S. Di Piero b. 1945
There’s no description in the braided stone,
the pear, the stone in the pear, the birchbark,
bread hills on the snowfall tablecloth.
The dog of work gnaws the day’s short bone,
snarls a mountainside into lavender and green.
In the mind where objects vanish, almost is all.
Element of pitcher, sky, rockface, blank canvas
plastic and vast in one off-center patch.
To copy what’s invisible, to improvise
a soul of things and remake solid life
into fresh anxious unlifelike form.

"On a Picture by Cézanne" from Shadows Burning, © 1995, reprinted by permission of Northwestern University Press.

Source: Poetry (June 2012).


This poem originally appeared in the June 2012 issue of Poetry magazine

June 2012
 W. S. Di Piero


W.S. Di Piero was born in 1945 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and earned degrees from St. Joseph’s College and San Francisco State College. A poet, essayist, art critic, and translator, Di Piero has taught at institutions such as Northwestern University, Louisiana State University, and Stanford, where he is professor emeritus of English and on faculty in the prestigious Stegner Poetry Workshop. Elected to the American Academy of . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Arts & Sciences, Painting & Sculpture

POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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