Sailing to the New Byzantium
That is no safe haven
For the timid. With his battered rhyming
Dictionary and ten or eleven
Fresh first drafts, he begins by exclaiming,
"There is nothing I need more
Than a swift kick in the posterior
"Of my soul," and--leaning close--,
"The Muse has left me for three weeks now
With only a couple handfuls of prose
Poems and the stray free verse lyric." (Pray
That such abandonment not fall upon
You, or you'll have to turn to translation.)
But that very night the doors
Of his perception are battered open
While he sleeps off a half dozen Coors
In the graduate dorm. He dreams a dolphin,
Yes! and a fire-spangled mannequin come
Swooping in, like Herod secure in his kingdom.
"I too was once as fearful
As you," the mad king cries, "and trembled at
Every legitimate and illegitimate
Baby in a barn. O gods, it was awful
Until my Mariamne sat me down
And ran her wet fingers inside my crown."
He wakes in a sweat and gropes
For his pen and notebook. But they are gone!
Nothing gleams in the moonlight but bottle caps
And the wind-inspirited cellophane
From a cigar. And the first light of dawn
Pricks him, like the sharp unfinished rhymes of "Kubla Khan."