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How To Paint A Water Lily

 To Paint a Water Lily

A green level of lily leaves
Roofs the pond's chamber and paves

The flies' furious arena: study
These, the two minds of this lady.
First observe the air's dragonfly That eats meat, that bullets by Or stands in space to take aim; Others as dangerous comb the hum Under the trees.
There are battle-shouts And death-cries everywhere hereabouts But inaudible, so the eyes praise To see the colours of these flies Rainbow their arcs, spark, or settle Cooling like beads of molten metal Through the spectrum.
Think what worse is the pond-bed's matter of course; Prehistoric bedragoned times Crawl that darkness with Latin names, Have evolved no improvements there, Jaws for heads, the set stare, Ignorant of age as of hour— Now paint the long-necked lily-flower Which, deep in both worlds, can be still As a painting, trembling hardly at all Though the dragonfly alight, Whatever horror nudge her root.

by Ted Hughes
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