Forty years ago, I would have        sold my soul        (like him)

                           for a love so strong        the self            dissolves in it.

And it’s possible I did.      For beauty feels blameless       when frozen

in a stereopticon        two-in-one       a sepia-toned moment       of pure

                  radiance       the star inside the sapphire’s      liquid blue.


And I’d do it again     only more so         to be sanctified like that

brushed by grace        held harmless        if only as an illusion

                    in that dazzling light.      It will not come again      not now
    
                  at my age.         What’s past is all there is          and what remains

seems hardly worth the candle.         No one inquires       or seeks


to take some benefit from my       hard-won knowledge          and truly

I have little left to give.      The days are an abscess        whose odor

chokes the patient in his bed.        I long for them      to be done.     All

                 that’s left to hope  . . .     You know the rest:      cries of execration.   

I am a madman               and his victims           all in one.


—David Yezzi

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This article originally appeared in The New Criterion, Volume 40 Number 3, on page 31
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