As if one had come the wrong way
Backing awkwardly to the throne
Naked, hairy, shambling, and deaf
And there was a pause, and a ripple
Or as if water sluiced down the rocks
And stopped, weary of time --
Ah, Sunflower! -- and crept up again,
Gray and worn out with desire.
"I have desired to be desired,"
He wrote, "without desire."
An alarmist, fussy old monk
With no politics but plenty of spite.
As if the purling music of her laugh
Was more or less decent; as if
The hunger was less than continual,
As if "as if" was as it was.
A careless white bloom
Rubbed off the plums, and a sharp voice
Almost reached us, but not quite.
"So young, and so dishonest!"
I have lived too long; all the brave ones
Are dead or in jail, the rest
Walk carefully on the water like insects
Swirling downstream, delicately posed.
Piles of corpses are sensibly alike
Whether they strew the plain of Ilion
Or dawdle in the gutters of the Gulf Coast
They talk interminably of politics and war
But they make no sense. So I ask
At the wrong time, or in the wrong key
And make the answer inaudible -- to hear
Would be unendurable, yes or no.