Sorrow is human, what of happiness?
The monster that is carved on Ishtar Gate
with fish-scaled back, bright eye, and clawed hind feet
is not so strange. And strange but not so sweet
the scent of violets in early spring
when newly rich, low-reaching branches sway,
and clear cold water bubbles from the sand
to bathe a carefree schoolboy’s naked feet.
Yes, happiness is human: touch of hair
and hand; now where we go a trumpet vine
announces us upon a gilded stair;
and joy is real, and happiness is rare;
and so we kiss, and kiss again, and twine,
while roosters toss gold coins into the night.
This article originally appeared in The New Criterion, Volume 15 Number 6, on page 31
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