Sunday, June 21, 2009

ancient







Spent a rainy Saturday wandering among ancient Greek and Roman artifacts with W & S. The Metropolitan Museum was packed. We looked and talked. It was a good good day. Later I thought of this poem.

          Archaic Torso of Apollo

We cannot know his legendary head 
with eyes like ripening fruit.  And yet his torso 
is still suffused with brilliance from inside, 
like a lamp, in which his gaze, now turned to low,

gleams in all its power.  Otherwise 
the curved breast could not dazzle you so, nor could 
a smile run through the placid hips and thighs 
to that dark center where procreation flared.

Otherwise this stone would seem defaced 
beneath the translucent cascade of the shoulders 
and would not glisten like a wild beast’s fur:

would not, from all the borders of itself, 
burst like a star: for here there is no place 
that does not see you. You must change your life.

Rainer Marie Rilke, trans. by Stephen Mitchell

2 comments:

apprentice said...

Another lovely marriage of image and poem Pam. And what a poem too, I love the line " And yet his torso is still suffused with brilliance from inside, like a lamp, in which his gaze, now turned to low,gleams in all its power."

Pam Hart said...

Thanks Anna. The poem comes back to me every time I get lost in that part of the Met. It's full of fragments of history but Rilke pulls from the brokenness. So great.