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Poems

The Way of the World, 1958

It has taken me long, Lygdamus,
to learn that humans, barring
a few saints, are degenerate
or senseless
The senseless ones are never by design
evil; but get in your way
like the ugly stumps of trees; order
bad taste or out of boredomstart long wars
where one's counted on
to dredge up manliness, fortitude, and valour
for their stupefactions.
But wicked are the clever ones.
Cultured and adept
they will seduce a friend's dear one
with praises of her husband on their lips.
As for the wife
a little alcohol parts her thighs.
Do not blame her: her husband's name
on the seducer's lips
makes her the eagerer to satisfy,
teaches her she lies with her very spouse.
And that way is best: no pricks of inwit,
but the novelty's stab of pleasure is there.
Therefore give me only lovers.
Come, my latest one, sloe-eyed,
your firm breasts whirling like astonished globes
before my eyes cross-eyed with lust;
though my legs are bandy
the heart's stout
and this provocative member smooth and unwrinkled.
Till the morning parts us, I'll lie beside you
your nipple at my tired mouthand one hand of mine
on your black curling fleece.