Interpretive Resource

Poem: "Edgar Degas: The Millinery Shop" by Adam Zagajewski

A poem inspired by Edgar Degas' The Millinery Shop, 1884/90

Art Institute of Chicago. Transforming Vision: Writers on Art. Art Institute of Chicago, 1994, p. 39.

ADAM ZAGAJEWSKI On Edgar Degas The Millinery Shop 1879 / 84 EDGAR DEGAS: THE MILLINERY SHOP Hats are innocent, bathed in the soft light which smoothes the contours of objects. A girl is working. But where are brooks? Groves? Where is the sensual laughter of nymphs? The world is hungry and one day will invade this tranquil room. For the moment it contents itself with ambassadors who announce:

I’m the ochre. I’m the sienna. I’m the color of terror, like ash. In me ships sink. I’m the blue, I’m cold, I can be pitiless. And I’m the color of dying, I’m patient. I’m the purple (you don’t see much of me), for me triumphs, processions. I’m the green, I’m tender, I live in wells and in the leaves of birch trees. The girl whose fingers are agile cannot hear the voices, for she’s mortal. She thinks of the coming Sunday and the rendezvous she has with the butcher’s son who has coarse lips and big hands stained with blood.

(Translated by the author)

Impressionism, women, work


High School

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