Fragonard

The Swing

FROM ‘MARA, MARIETTA’
Part Four Chapter 4

Fragonard’s Swing

 

Will he remember, when he’s old and grey,
How his heart would flutter to the sway of her swing?
Will she remember, when she’s past her day,
The kindling power of her petticoats?

Hearts like bells, celebrate the living
Mourn the dead, break the lightning

Toothless and dribbling, will he still recall
The arch of her instep, the sandal, the fall?
Her poise at the still-point between surrender and retreat,
Eyeless and infirm, will it still taste sweet?

Hearts like bells, celebrate the living
Mourn the dead, break the lightning

The thrill of expectation, the sudden glimpse—
Will they reminisce about their frivolity?
Will they be convinced by the instant’s eloquence
That to transience the flower owes its beauty?

Hearts like bells, celebrate the living
Mourn the dead, break the lightning

Jean-Honoré Fragonard, The Swing (Les Hasards heureux de l’escarpolette), 1767