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After Les Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry,
Illuminated manuscript, 1410-1416

Like dancers in a pirouette
the mowers with their scythes,
their polished rhythms whispering
through harvest’s green ballet.

Two women turn the tumbled hay,
so slight and stockingless and lithe
one could wish the world this script,
no hail of brightness perishing

through blue that seems to radiate
with morning light abiding
in June’s long, languorous, florid days
before the stars tip toward the Scales.

Above the town a gold dome wheels,
though it appears unending flight
has stilled, just where the naked Twins
pivot on the Crab’s gilt depths.

A shadow God who bears the sun
inside the sky-chart’s inner vault
remains the still point of this route,
beholding nothing but his gem

and innocent of these lives below
as we are blind to any plight
behind the city’s towered walls,
no hint of plague or poverty,

for here is immanence and bliss
and work transfigured into dance
the hours bless inside this cage—
the gloaming fringes of the page

The Image archive is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.

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