A Ballet Seen From the Opera Box, 1885 by Edgar Degas

TO SURPRISE AN EFFECT was often Degas' idea. His variety of treatments of the ballet is enormous and none is more original than a series of scenes on the stage, glimpsed from an opera box, where space between spectator and dancer is telescoped and we feel thrust suddenly into the very midst of a performance. The theme of the dancer, caught in a characteristic moment, is also found in one of Degas' best sonnets:
She dances, dying. As around the reed
Of a flute where the sad wind of Weber plays,
The ribbon of her steps, twists and knots,
Her body sinks and falls in the movement of a bird.
The violins sing. Fresh from the blue of the water
Silvana comes, and carefully ruffles and preens:
The happiness of rebirth and love on her cheeks,
In her eyes, on her breasts, on her whole new being . . .
And her satin feet, like needles embroider
Patterns of pleasure. The springing girl
Wears out my poor eyes, straining to follow her.
With a trifle, as always, the beautiful mystery ends.
She bends back her legs too far in a leap, It's the leap of a frog in the Cytherean pond.