Thursday, June 2, 2011

Epithalamium: First Hour

(after Spenser )

For Omar and Miriam: August 28, 2004,
Feast of St. Augustine of Hippo

…strong nerves are an advantage
and accurate wrist-watches too
can be a great help.
-W.H. Auden

It used to be you could call up a muse
And laugh a while; or cry in the same breath
To think another, less faithful, would refuse
To comment on the marriage of life and death –
Antony gulled by Cleopatra’s asp,
Heaving breasts, a last gasp.
The modern muse phones in her funeral wreath
With a voice vodka-curried to a rasp.
It used to be Greeks owned heaven and earth
And wedded the twin realms for οἰ πολλοί
In pleasure's coupled joy.
This day, though, sisters replace muses to serve
Greens, breads, meats – all brought in well-wrought vessels.
My friends, marriage never fights, but wrestles
To find its comic feasts. These days, the nerve
You need the tragic graces hold in reserve.
So I pray this poem comes just to this –
That nature sings best when tuned to the key of grace.

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