I am a poet’s pipe,
The modernistic kind,
Not a churchwarden type
But elegantly lined.

Straight stem and simple bowl,
No grinning Gothic skull,
Nor Chinese rigmarole,
Nor buxom Turkish trull.

I read him like a book
(e.g., I know just where
He got this poem. Look
In the pages of Corbière.)

“Cast off!” he shouts. “Full steam!”
Aye, aye. I’m burning red.
Life is a waking dream
Until he goes to bed.

His devils in dark swarms
Fly from my smoking spout.
Bright, intellectual forms
Are hovering about.

And then his light goes out.

Louis Simpson

This article originally appeared in The New Criterion, Volume 11 Number 9, on page 34
Copyright © 2017 The New Criterion | www.newcriterion.com
newcriterion.com/issues/1993/5/the-poets-pipe