Three Poems Against Political Correctness
The Bruges Virgin
The tourists do not comprehend that pure white light. |
The art professor makes a formal note.
I, but half-ruined, feel the ancient grace,
The terror of the Virgin's face,
The hint, like the fresh herb beside her throat,
Of ever-lost delight.
We clean the varnish, cannot see to clean
Our clogged lies, lusts, treasons, sloths, vanities;
We use the lilies of our sex to know,
And cannot therefore see to know
The vision in whose light the Virgin sees,
Nor know what sin might mean.
Nature is made the proxy for our shame.
Pollution is the name we give the grief
Of self-despoiled and ravished innocence.
We make machines do penitence
To the dim spectres of our disbelief,
Absolving us of blame.
The closest we can come is in denial:
Think how the fogs clear from a mountainside
To show the galleries of virgin trees,
When the dawn's dazzling mysteries
Remind us of the soul's lost passiontide,
The sources of its Nile.
In a Season of Political Faction
The slow spring lifts its body once again, |
As if it were a ship swamped in a gale;
It rights itself, an avalanche of pain
Pours from its battered bows across the rail.
But every time it settles deeper in,
Its shell-like skies and petals overwhelmed:
How can the frail and fragrant jessamine
Contest the governance of a thing unhelmed?
The cold salt in its tons runs everywhere,
And kills whatever is still sweet and warm:
There is no blossoming of peach or pear
Can coax an ounce of pity from the storm.
And now the light fades, and the hour grows late:
Over the waste blows the dark wind of hate.
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This sickness thirsts, but hates desire, |
Chills when it burns, but is not fire;
Sweet-tasting to the fair and just,
But once it catches, sour as dust;
Pretends to free the human race,
Makes monsters of the human face;
Corrupts the meaning of the mother,
Turns he and she against each other;
Twists truth into an ancient lie,
But has no shame to testify;
Servile, despising those who serve,
Seeking what it would not deserve;
Cyst upon the human heart,
Canker of science and of art;
Gives love a new excuse to hate,
Envies the power to create,
And yet can only imitate.
What is it?