I read this poem with my eighth graders every year and we speculate on the story behind it. I love it because there is just the right level of mystery. The kids always say, "Obsession!" when they get the picture of the studio filled with countless paintings of the same woman. Yet it's an obsession with the artist's idea of the model, "not as she is, but as she fills his dream."
I found this wonderful analysis of the poem.
In an Artist's Studio
One face looks out from all his canvases,
One selfsame figure sits or walks or leans:
We found her hidden just behind those screens,
That mirror gave back all her loveliness.
A queen in opal or in ruby dress,
A nameless girl in freshest summer-greens,
A saint, an angel—every canvas means
The same one meaning, neither more nor less.
He feeds upon her face by day and night,
And she with true kind eyes looks back on him,
Fair as the moon and joyful as the light:
Not wan with waiting, not with sorrow dim;
Not as she is, but was when hope shone bright;
Not as she is, but as she fills his dream.
The Poetry Friday roundup is here today.
21 minutes ago