Paintings to Orpheus

7:00 AM

Edgar Degas, L'Etoile, 1878

Sonnet 28

Translated by EDWARD SNOW

O come and go. You, still almost a child,
with your spell transform for an instant
the dance figure, make it one of those pure
constellations in which we fleetingly
transcend dull ordering Nature. For she was roused
to full hearing only when Orpheus sang.

You were still swayed by those ancient chords
and a bit annoyed if a tree took stock
before it followed where your hearing led.
You still knew the place where the lyre
rose resounding--; the undreamt-of center.

For it you practiced those beautiful steps
and hoped one day to turn toward
total happiness your friend's face and stride.

Editor's Note: Students were asked to pair a poem and painting with no explanation of the connection. 

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