Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Keats Reading Shakespeare

He was looking through Shakespeare’s sonnets
and found some memorable memories,
how the child in his man’s body refused
to acknowledge the way he wrecked his life
in two years, here in a funk for twenty two.

The expense of spirit in a waste of shame
Is lust in action; , . . . Before, a joy propos’d;
behind a dream. 
It was the old poet
reciting, not drinking, hoping to sleep
his noon food off and hinting you should go . . .

Who could blame him wanting you out of there,
too kind to say so, resorting to the Bard
whose blue genius you could not fail to hear.
Blood's dirge, what men sing when they love more than
themselves, live below and go up only

for the suicides sprawled on the sun deck
where the bad boys and wild girls of our youth
prepare the deep grooves of their wrinkled skin
to sleep in original dust, those damned
only to swallow your words, you sweet man . . .

How with this rage shall beauty hold a plea,
Whose action is no stronger than a flower?

music to fit together the spaces
between his body and the brief way back
past the pond and waterfall, on the road

home where he sat in the long, wide backyard
whose two old trees bowed to one another
while he sat reciting as night drew near . . .
What of his own imperishable line
When old age shall this generation waste . . .

Why do the old envy the young dying?
Where is the love of the only woman?
When are you too old to cross the ocean?
What eats at your heart like a rose, a thorn
in your eye, poet preparing his death . . .

Youth cannot choose to live, only die.
The ode to the Grecian urn, its force spent
when followed by the address to autumn,
goads the nerves to hum with the rain’s thunder
wading the river to catch the lightning

naked among pale flowers, their wet sleep
a nudge to wake and cross the river back
before time runs out to renew your bond
with your refusal to waste your own way.
I, the storm raged, will not waste my power.

So that day. Night’s other shape. The cratered
moon mirrored in the sun’s sleep on the trek
from west to east, how he got here, kisses
rolling on the bed, oratorio
in the morning, bodies fused with bright sky . . .

(31 March 2011)

copyright 2011 by Floyce Alexander

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