This is what the man said,
Insisting, standing on his head.

Yes, I have come to grief,
That was not furtive like a thief,
And may not be blown up beyond belief.

They know I have no bittern by the lake
To cry it up and down the brake,
And nothing since has been like Dante’s fury
For Beatrice who was not his to bury,
Except, if the young heart faltered, they may know
How Shelley’s throbbing reed sang tremolo.

They say, “He puts a fix upon his mind,
And hears at bedside or on the moaning wind
The rumor of Death, yet he won’t mount one tear
But stalks in his holy calm beside the dreadful bier.”

Lest we wreck upon a reef,
I go according to another brief,
Against their killing blasts of grief.

My head, outposted promontoried chief,
Frowned, and elected me to the common grief,
Shaken by their poor pities but not like as a leaf.

This Issue

October 23, 1969