PF detail from Pierre-Auguste Renoir - Beach Scene, Guernsey (Children by the Sea in Guernsey) - 1883;


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Last updated:
May 2009


Linda Pastan was born in New York City, graduated from Radcliffe College and received an MA from Brandeis University. Her awards include the Dylan Thomas Award, a Pushcart Prize, the Di Castagnola Award (Poetry Society of America), the Bess Hokin Prize (Poetry Magazine), the Maurice English Award, the Charity Randall Citation of the International Poetry Forum, and the 2003 Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize. She was a recipient of a Radcliffe College Distinguished Alumnae Award. PM/AM and Carnival Evening were nominees for the National Book Award and The Imperfect Paradise was a nominee for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. She served as Poet Laureate of Maryland from 1991 to 1995 and was on the staff of the Breadloaf Writers Conference for twenty years. She lives in Potomac, Maryland.


In the Realm of Pure Color

after Gauguin’s The Loss of Virginity

It is our eyes that lose
their innocence, ravished by
these purples and greens as we gaze

at the woman lying there,
her ankles pressed together,
like Holbein’s Christ.

She is perfectly immobile,
as if the fox signifying lust
were hardly there, nor the bird

settled on her open hand.
Even the procession that winds
its slow way towards her

is simply a curve of darkness
in the distance. In this realm
of pure color it is the intense blues

of the water that matter,
the soft shapes of the rocks,
more voluptuous than any woman.

And she becomes a flat plane of white
in the foreground, the tropical color
of sand after the sea has receded.

From: Heroes in Disguise, W.W.Norton&Company,1991

Paul Gauguin "The Beach"