Les Grandes Baigneuses

My sorrow for their plight recurs
Each time I see Les Grandes Baigneuses,
Those lounging ladies who expose
Nude vistas of their quelques choses.
They must have hoped their shapely youth
Deserved a better-painted truth --
Not stark, slab-sided flesh, unreal,
Bereft of any sex appeal,
The direst warning to all those
Bold innocents who’d shed their clothes
To flaunt what fires the artist’s eye
Before their youth and paint set dry.

Theirs dried a hundred years ago.
It’s time for them to dress and go.
They may in youth have all been ravers;
Cézanne, though, did their looks no favours.


(first published in The Oldie)