Your coming I recall: a growing vibrance,
an agitation to the world unknown.
The moon through branches touched the balcony
and there a shadow, lyriform, was thrown.
To me, a youth, the iamb seemed a garb
too rude for the soft languor of your shoulders;
but my imperfect line had tunefulness
and with the red lips of its rhyme it smiled.
And I was happy. On the dimming desk
a trembling flame hollowed my bit of candle,
and in my dream the page was under glass,
immortal, all zigzagged with my corrections.
Not so at present. For the morning star
my morning slumber I will not surrender.
Beyond my strength are multitudes of tasks—
especially the worries of ambition.
I am expert, frugal, intolerant.
My polished verse cleaner than copper shines.
We talk occasionally, you and I,
across the fence like two old country neighbors.
Yes, ripeness is pictorial, agreed:
leaf of grapevine, pear, watermelon halved,
and—top of artistry—transparent light.
I’m feeling cold. Ah, this is autumn, Muse!
The violence of it. We can’t always hear the “murder” in “self-murder.”
In which Van reads a short story by Anton Chekhov and the protagonist dies after three pages due to a cough…