I think that I’m a ghost in classical times
and that some other poet strums and rhymes
telling my story. I am an ornament
upon a rich man’s lawn. I love your smile
that spreads through marble and is heaven sent,
strangely inhuman, and not what I meant
when I wrote my great ode, The Crocodile.
You huff and laugh and glower for awhile,
but I am shrunken, and my back is bent,
and will not enter where the solstice tent
confabulates the virgin’s candid bile
where coolies with their baskets mile by mile
give no appointment, cede no sentiment,
and all that glimmers starward is on trial.
I think that I’m a ghost in antiquity
and that some poet strums and sings a ditty
about my life. I’m a lawn ornament
half-regretted by some rich man. But your lips
are as the quivering of the marble’s hips
and lifelessly assent
to my one ode, and my last lament.
Your blush a mouthless totem, I am spent,
the youth I was concealed within myself,
nor bother any longer now with stealth
some paces from the palatial solstice tent,
go unacknowledged by the icy glare
of the sacrificial virgin there,
piled on the table with the lordly fare
carried for miles and miles by caravans
as black as night, trees’ faces, circumstance.
Ben Mazer studied under Christopher Ricks and Archie Burnett at the Editorial Institute, and is the editor of a forthcoming edition of the complete poems of John Crowe Ransom. He has also edited collections of poems by Frederick Goddard Tuckerman and Landis Savage Everson. He is a contributing editor to Fulcrum: an annual of poetry and aesthetics in Cambridge, Massachusetts.