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XLVI

June 26, 2013

Why lust I after prey whose hunt thereof I loathe?
I look upon the hart, and pine and waste away—
his mane of Dian’s maidenhood, and silver hoofs,
and adamantine eyes, and flanks of Athens’ gold
that spread as knives the sapphire light between the trees
as swiftly leaps he ‘twixt the shadows running free—
but hate the very notion of his quick pursuit.
And yet, I look with jealous eye upon the men,
who coated red go racing through the jaded wood
in chase of he whose beauty is the unattained—
and see that in pursuit they find requited love,
though never have they caught the hart whom they do chase.
Is’t then the rush of blood and pounding hoofs that sates
their heady, beating lust—the race and not the catch?
Why is it then that I must hate that which they love,
and love that which can never be constrained to me?
Alas, a wastrel must I stay, behooved to hear,
but never match, the clapping of his noble hoofs,
as unencumbered flies he on through forest thick
and bramble sharp, pursued by talent never mine,
whose feet will beat the sharp tattoo that calls my heart
up to the gallows bench where face I unkind crowds
who feign to tell me that my love for that swift hart
is squandered ‘ere I knew of it, and witness, God,
the wasting of my youth in wanton laziness.
Fair muse, or god, or devil, any kind of soul
who looks with kindness (call it pity, if you will)
upon my broken tenancy upon this ball
that men have called, in poetry, their mother, Earth—
look down on me, your plaything, ‘ere I wither dry,
and tell me why I pine and sigh, in paradox,
for that which treads upon the paths that I most loathe?
And why didst thou, before my ears had dried behind,
bring to my lips a kiss from that which now runs free—
his shape imprinted on my soul so even time
may never clean the stain away from out my mind—
why didst thou me this cruelty, to show me love
then set it down on paths I hate above all else?
And were it not enough to have so cruel a lord,
I am beset upon all sides by enemies—
though fair in form and blameless, enemies they be;
for, broken as I am, their wholeness serves to break
the pieces they would mend, as bending o’er my shards
they strive to show me how to chase after the hart,
who even now, they say, is within reach of me—
if only I would stand and walk, and then believe.
They cluster all around me, strong in unity—
and press, and feign would have my pieces join as one—
but I, in shards, slip through their cracks and fall outside,
doomed always then to watch as friendly hands reset
the empty bones within their grasp to form their wants,
while I, remaining broken, weep as I espy
the effigy they raise in honour—yes—of I—
a marble David, perfect but for lack of life,
for that remains my own, and I remain apart.
The sculpture they erect is ready for the hunt,
and they do send him off with bright and hopeful cries;
not knowing that he’s but a lifeless marble man,
whose soul resideth not within his chest, but here,
within these shards of stone cast off upon the ground,
forgotten by the sculptor and his cheering friends.
Why lust I after prey whose hunt thereof I loathe?
Why gather ‘round me those who break my heart to mend?
Why be thou silent when I bid thee answer me?
I answer these, and more, with this: thou art, I’m not.

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