After the Masters of the "Fall of Icarus"
About wickedness they were rarely wrong,The Old Masters; though Leporello made good song,Enumerating the Don's innumerable lemans,It is still the stuff of demons.Even so the Rebel Angels are impotent as they fall,They vainly try to fight, to bite, to clawAnd maul St. Michael and his angels raw;But Brueghel knew, though his imps are devilish,They made him laugh as they flop like fishAs globular and pink as anyone might wishFrom Doctor Seuss's hand. Even Bosch's visionOf hellish torment and the odd carnal relationDisturbs us less than sin's original derivation.Look how at Isenheim the panel of the temptationOf good St. Anthony shows the gormless gazeOf demons stunned senseless when a hermit prays.
A Poet Takes Leave of Priam
My lord, I thank you for your kindnessTo a wandering poet. I take shipTomorrow for Egypt—the mildnessOf your climate should curtail my trip,But Egypt's heat best suits my old bones.No, my lord, your charming daughter's gloomHas never troubled me, although her moansUpset you with her constant talk of doom.The mad princess does not disquiet meAs much as does her brother's foreign leman. [End Page 530] The beautiful are deadly; they shall seeThat her scorned husband will become a demon.My lord, farewell; the gods shield you from shame!Full well I know that great will be your fame!
Sunbathers in Russell Square
The cheeky boys in Bedford's squareStrip down to their underwearTo sun themselves, but I don't dareShed the garments that I wearAnd join the boys in Bedford's square.
I am not young; my mirror showsI look much better in my clothes.My hair is thin; it quickly goes—Middle age, anybody knows,Is late to strip and strut or pose.
Oh, when I was a fairer boy,I took no heed of well-tanned joyAnd thought love was a silly toyAnd put on ties for my employ—Would I had been a barer boy!
And now I wish I had the artTo doff my years inside the park,And sun myself till all was dark.Desiring love and youth, I'd startThis time to lose both clothes and heart. [End Page 531]
The Russian Submariner
We lie in the dark, in the cold;We barely breathe, and we lieAnd wait for death, for we must dieUnless a miracle does unfold,Unless God lets us all grow old.
When I was young my Nana was so boldShe had me christened by the priest.I guess it took, for now at leastI pray for all within this holdThat God will be as Nana told.
O Lord, I do not want to die, not here!But, if I must, take me where Nana saidThat she would wait for me, not dead,Where Your own mother calms all fear,And You Yourself break every bier. [End Page 532]
J. F. R. Day's first appearance in the SR was in the fall of 1993. He teaches Shakespeare at Troy University in Alabama.