XVII

Time now beating back more than it delivers
We are in deeper than good will would take us
Psychic cri goes critical as psychosis
             Gives with the motley

Face of such woes grins elegiac triumph
We are all born premature thing built bloody
Nine months more might better equip this labour
             Strange to our bodies

Labour that point—I would so have it carried—;
You may well stumble and the act define you
Something found there · Rise up and be of substance
             Splendida verba:

That we do gamble and that who accepts may
Call us on it| words as their own tribunal
Stelae shown hallowed by the goddess Justice
             Though but a fiction

If so fiction stands to the Troyan Virgil
Epic threnos crying inconstant tribute
Snarled with more than common devotion | broken
             Bloodied bewailing

Thus for Priam gorgeously shaken · As rage
So with age | both | wreathed in his spectral armour
That the severed image defies extinction
             Gives me the shivers

This article originally appeared in The New Criterion, Volume 30 Number 1, on page 83
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