Tuesday, 23 August 2011

An Ode to Women


An Ode to the Incarnations of
Aphrodite, Athena, Artemis, Hera and Persephone

late have I loved you, lesser love, late was the hour I came to your halls
and found not the utterly Other, but the other akin to myself
clad in raiments sharper than stars, and stranger.

my brethren oft proceed to apologize when they encounter you, profusely,
saying justice eludes their utterance. Justice I know not in this,
yet perhaps I who gained speech of soul before being dumbstruck by you
can sing your praises the better for my earlier poverty.

for how can one not sing when the slow soft slopes of your eyes
like the bows of starladen ships steer the mind to song? How can silence stay
before the silken pools of radiance beneath those dark lashes? It flees
like a bird into song, alighting gently in the calm centre of the iris:
a still place in the storm of sensuality.

amidst those dual delights, with a dignity marble never achieves,
the brow and the nose cast forth like rocks amidst the spray of radiant ocean
to provide a hint, tantalizing and taunting, of the deep depths you would yield
to the one who would dare to drown in the mysteries below.

sparkling as shells upon the sand, too, are the lips, set as if in honour
in the midst of the cliffs of chin and cheek, golden and soft in the afternoon sun,
blessed the one who may spend his days in the shade of such elegance!

above all these, as the far clouds around the moon, silver in the dark of the night,
flow forth as a torrent of velvet, the crown of delight, raven hair in streams,

dark as midnight and as secret. Flaxen hair, sharp as sunlight, soft as sweet caramel,
toying between the fingers like a small fish in a mountain stream, playful.
Earthen hair, as rich and as varying as nature, enfolding with fecund promise,
only to yield a thousandfold in the sacred silence of the unspoken hours

below all these, as the base of a column which would dare the heavens,
the neck with soft strength lies, carved yet gentle, sharp yet supple,
flowing down, as a garment made for dancing, down to shoulders
so aptly one expects the applause of an audience, rapt in awe. How can one not,
before such ivory arms, such nimble fingers, such noble poise in regal wrists?

the swaying of your hips are as the beating of waves upon the shore, as effortless,
as endlessly refreshing. Such a silhouette in starlight tempt one to worship,
such reverence does it inspire, the curves of hidden delight flowing up
towards a kind heaven in the rhythm of soft chanting.

all the dances of far exotic lands have not yet exhausted the elegance of the ankle,
the imperial lines of the feet, and the long slender arch of the legs
which complete your frame with a symmetry art cannot equal.

of the rest I beg silence, to speak of them would be to profane, though
their splendour makes the heart ache, the innocence too sharp to touch
without bleeding, a beauty so beautiful it is perilous, to gaze is death
to the uninitiated.