The thorn in Rilke’s finger,
The boil on Scriabin’s lip,
Were enough to wrest the singer
From his musicianship.


Airiest Isadora
Gave up her dancing breath
When motoring she wore a
Red scarf that caught on death.


Small things speed our departure:
A scarf, a boil, a thorn;
But were they any larger,
The things by which we are born?

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This article originally appeared in The New Criterion, Volume 28 Number 2, on page 29
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