I N R E T R O S P E C T
(Ode to Love's Labors Lost Unperceived)
[New York City, Summer/Fall 1980]
1 If wisdom's strong, to reason may suffice
Should that be wrong, some charm to mesmerize
This soul to ease the pain. If not,
The great and near-great's words may plagiarize!
2 In vain sought comfort in philosophy,
Or comfort sought in others' company;
In verses crude, can I venture erode
Love's burden's Hell, Life's poignant agony?
3 Heaven, elusive "vision of fulfilled desire,"
Hell, looming "shadow of a soul on fire"
Of love begot by cruel Destiny
Sooner than born is sent off to retire!
4 'Twixt right and wrong, how easy to define,
'Twixt love and hate is harder drawn the line.
Mistakes are made before we even know
That worst of them is one's will to resign.
5 Anger and rage, brute children of illusion
When deigned to reign bring fetters to emotion.
If it should be that we shall not be one,
What gain is made by wrathful condemnation?
6 Prithee, is it that never blooms so sweet
The rose as from where mournful tears are let?
The joys that from few fleeting moments sprung
Are mem'ries true, no justice to regret!
7 Not all the roads we take lead us to Rome,
Nor all the sins we dared commit bring doom;
Will all the blossoms we may yet behold
Be sweeter made by picking them in gloom?
8 As breeze caressing but few blades of green
With dewdrops feed the grass ere dawn sets in,
Few words that never meant to touch the soul
With vehemence precipitate the pain.
9 The glance that was stolen with a pause
Did fire not the anger which broke loose,
Search deep beneath the veil of pleasantries
Peradventure you'd still find the cause.
10 "A hair divides the false and true," they say,
A giant leap from "thee-and-me" to "we""
It takes no less than all that one is worth
And more to spare for cares along the way.
11 If one needs but few moments to carouse
Will-o-the-wisp would serve no worse spouse.
Take better heed, it hurts to be deceived,
Save fools, none heed for such half-way-house!
12 One moment in premeditation's haste
One argument for mortal wisdom quest
One moment which to love's perdition prove
Wild vengeance of annihilation's waste!
13 Can silence with proverbial eloquence
Set council for the heartache's recompense
To heal the wounds that only lovers know
And teardrops wash some error's insolence?
14 No Bacchal cure of legend potency
Nor pastime pure, not sheer obstinacy
E'n sweet Oblivion's comfort but in vain
Recapture love's life-giving rhapsody.
15 Come, Nightingale from thine throne divine
Come, bring the tune to soothe this heart of mine
In woe begone, in stormy tide adrift,
Come, sing thine song so shoreward may recline.
16 Indeed, indeed, not hither bring thy rhyme
Sweet Serenade to her dear heart sublime
To her dear ears, sweet nothings in my name
Pray, whisper till beyond the end of time.
17 For mine voice rings venom in her ears
And mine birth deemed shameful to her peers;
My ways and loving entreaty provoke
In her torrential flood of angry tears!
18 This selfsame storm of my predicament
Abates to calm at her commandement;
The ebbs and flows, she holds, she surely knows
The key to predetermination's vent.
9 Ere predetermination's book was wrote
How oft the Well of Life to some has put
Forth hope, and yes, some inspiration so
Love's toil need not be reduced to naught?
20 How oft, indeed, that we, so hoping fall
Ensnared in Love's deep intermeshing thrall?
Whence in the wake of heartbreak's undertow
Shall start to walk and not content to crawl?
21 Lest be content with what is coming forth
Befits to ask what self-reflection's worth.
Why! vanquished dreams, as dreams, remain untrue
If not for new beginnings and rebirth!
22 Out from the whirlpool of that turbid wake
Arise questions dare I not answer seek
Those lovely lips that I life-treasure kiss
Who else, whose lips, they kisses give and take?
23 Oh, let you kiss them, what have I to do
With what you will, or say, or where you go?
Much as I care, I am aware I may
Wreak havoc on the world but heed not you!
24 How odd it seems that Logic negative
Can blissful dreams dismiss to make believe
All would be well; and why not, if you please,
Sing Requiem: a living soul's reprieve?
25 Oh, yesterday, how we with passion kissed
In love's embrace your arms were heaven's nest;
Same nest today you eagerly prepare
To welcome one yet-better favored guest!
26 Of love possessed, consumed by jealousy
Abandoned reason for some fantasy
Of better days that some tomorrow may
Bring back the warmth of by-gone ecstasy.
27 Sweet mem'ries dwell in shadows of a kiss
You blew my way by a moment's caprice
My heart beguiled, too drunk to but guess
Not all of sweet things made are lovers' bliss!
28 Yesterday' kiss and promise did provoke
Today's despair, resentment, chain, and yoke;
The hope tirelessly nurtured by the hour
So late discovered yet so soon forsook
29 Yet bewitched by your magical power
Condemned to long endure love's endeavor
To what may yet be proved the better end
And sweet reward for teardrops shed so far.
30 So oft methought deserving ridicule
That I continue wanting you, and all
Of you, knowing you're not even aware
What Hell you wrought to my tormented soul
31 The wheels of life do roll, and having rolled
May yet some sweeter tale of love unfold,
Or better yet, as past wont to repeat:
Some bitter wrath in aggravation's mold!
32 Indeed, indeed, 'tis not for me to blame
You and your ways of playing Cupid's game;
You sample all the options -- that I know
And I resent; but want you just the same!
33 And so, sweet lady, whom I love so true
You brought my life in this world much woe,
Condemned my prospect as but so much dirt
For you to brush off and to bid adieu!
34 I must resolve this by myself, I must!
How long can someone in agony last?
Oh what a pity -- the spectacle:
Of Love reduced to Desire in the Dust!
35 No, knows no measure, oh, the misery
When lovers make resort to beggary
Knowing that both the beggar and the begged
Of love's devotion make a mockery!
36 You, who with well-intentioned malice win
Away the peace I used to wander in,
Can you but place some stakes into the odds
And not foreclose the chance that ought begin?
37 Oh, questions, and more questions, yet no more
Do answers come than mermaids come to shore
To build a rainbow bridge across the gulf
So broken dreams may blissfully recur.
38 Born to lose! You hinted e'er so often
Are they who dreams conceive to be broken.
For all the troubles you took to conceal
That epitaph, of me was oft spoken.
39 Yet you won't break with an opinion's force
A life which knew the better and the worse
Of all, else, incidental circumstance
For which the will, at least, is half the source.