Jeanne Heuving: On "Portrait of a Lady"

Williams, in his portrait, like Moore, utilizes the Renaissance convention of the beauty depicted by her parts:

Your thighs are appletrees 

whose blossoms touch the sky . . . .


               Your knees 

are a southern breeze—or 

a gust of snow . . . .


        Ah yes—below 

the knees, since the tune 

drops that way, it is 

one of those white summer days, 

the tall grass of your ankles 

flickers upon the shore . . . . (35)

In the quixotic last line of the poem—"I said petals from an appletree"—the speaker unequivocally asserts his presence over the parts, for it is he who "says" them (36).

From "Gender in Marianne Moore's Art: Can'ts and Refusals." Sagtrieb. Vol. 6, No. 3


Title Jeanne Heuving: On "Portrait of a Lady" Type of Content Criticism
Criticism Author Jeanne Heuving Criticism Target William Carlos Williams
Criticism Type Poet Originally Posted 14 Oct 2015
Publication Status Excerpted Criticism Publication No Data
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