Portrait of an Unknown Princess

For her to have such a slender neck
For her wrists to bend like flower stems
For her eyes to be so clear and direct
Her back so straight
Her head so high
With such a natural glow on her forehead
It took successive generations of slaves
With stooping bodies and patient rough hands
Serving successive generations of princes
Still a bit coarse still a bit crude
Cruel greedy and conniving

It took an enormous squandering of life
For her to be
That lonely exiled aimless perfection

Sophia de Mello Breyner Andresen


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2008 Selected Poetry
The Poets Garret
Tir Na nOg Poetry Community