Verse > Anthologies > Harriet Monroe, ed. > Poetry: A Magazine of Verse, 1912–22
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Harriet Monroe, ed. (1860–1936).  Poetry: A Magazine of Verse.  1912–22.
 
History
By William Carlos Williams
 
I
THIS sarcophagus contained the body
Of Uresh-Nai, priestess to the goddess Mut,
Mother of All—
.  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .
II
The priestess has passed into her tomb.
The stone has taken up her spirit!        5
Granite over flesh: who will deny
Its advantages?
 
Your death?—water
Spilled upon the ground—
Though water will mount again into rose-leaves—        10
But you?—would hold life still,
Even as a memory, when it is over.
Benevolence is rare.
 
Climb about this sarcophagus, read
What is writ for you in these figures,        15
Hard as the granite that has held them
With so soft a hand the while
Your own flesh has been fifty times
Through the guts of oxen—read!
 
“The rose-tree will have its donor        20
Even though he give stingily.
The gift of some endures
Ten years, the gift of some twenty,
And the gift of some for the time a
Great house rots and is torn down.        25
Some give for a thousand years to men of
One country, some for a thousand
To all men, and some few to all men
While granite holds an edge against
The weather.
            “Judge then of love!”
        30
 
III
“My flesh is turned to stone. I
Have endured my summer. The flurry
Of falling petals is ended. I was
Well desired and fully caressed
By many lovers, but my flesh        35
Withered swiftly and my heart was
Never satisfied. Lay your hands
Upon the granite as a lover lays his
Hand upon the thigh and upon the
Round breasts of her who is        40
Beside him; for now I will not wither,
Now I have thrown off secrecy, now
I have walked naked into the street,
Now I have scattered my heavy beauty
In the open market.        45
 
“Here I am with head high and a
Burning heart eagerly awaiting
Your caresses, whoever it may be,
For granite is not harder than
My love is open, runs loose among you!        50
 
“I arrogant against death! I
Who have endured! I worn against
The years!”
 
 
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