Tuesday, 9 August 2016

The Man Whom Beauty Killed

Cleopatra: Eighty and Eighteen, John William Godward, 1888.

Into the mountains he went,

feeling his way with a staff;

until he reached a quiet nook

on a ridged peak, that was

sprinkled with snow, with air

so fresh with icy chill – and those

misty clouds encircled him.

‘Though them he could not see, but

only feel: it’s moistness on his skin

and smell of sharp and damp caress.

But then the sun tore through the mist

and his eyes were opened wide –

the scales falling down – for first time

he saw the brightness of the day!

Its panorama reclined

before him like Cleopatra,

as sea meets land, hills and fields

and woods and shades all green and purple,

which lay before his infant gaze

that drunk so deeply of nature’s draught

that he died right then and there.

Beauty killed him, delighted him dead,

by rushing on his heart and

ravishing his senses till they died –

too deep the wound, a wound that sighed

too deep for words – escaped the mind.

He fell with a smile unseen upon his face,

too broad the grin inside, that his mouth

couldn't stretch to meet such joy.

And so dead there he lay, beauty killed

him there, kissed him dead and stole his breath;

that blessed man – whose soul then soared

where saints sigh and swoon like waves

that plunge and dive eternally anew

in beauty ever ancient and ever new.