Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, PORTRAITS, by BABETTE DEUTSCH

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PORTRAITS, by            
First Line: Keen as the breath
Last Line: To those who share your spiritual fast.
Alternate Author Name(s): Yarmolinsky, Avrahm, Mrs.
Subject(s): Portraits


Keen as the breath of frozen fjords
And poised
Like an adventurous ship with blonde sails flying --
Until you smiled with blue, lit eyes:
The sun
Splintered upon an iceberg's shining flanks.


You are as restless as a startled leaf
Tossed in a gale.
Yet you have peace,
When the wind drops you,
Deep as a deep well, where learning stars
Stoop to another sky.


Your mind is like a road in some far country
Where soft-footed dreams,
Past mountain shrines and thundering waterfalls,
Through harsh bright cities, by abandoned tombs,
Pace without destination or regret.
Yet they are quick and subtle too,
Being tutored by your thoughts.
They love to scare the dusk with scarlet robes;
And plunge, nude maidens, into the midnight river.


The wall of fog at the pier's end,
And the half-risen curtain
At the ballet,
The tuning-up of the orchestra,
And the harsh-throated brunt of revolt,
You engrossed.
An ironic observer,
Or an amateur of sensation?


And you, girl lover, how you spread your dreams
Like bloomy plums and pears and lucent grapes
At a fair.
You are an urchin with awed eyes and astonished laughter
To whom the antiquated show is a bomb of delight.


A rock whereon the sea beats tirelessly
With futile hands
You are.
The patient stone
No tides or storms can stir.
Under your shadow
I remember death
And the remorseless stars who were
Your ancient bright companions in the sky.


Are you no more
Than an embodied hunger?
Gnawing still
At the unanswered riddle.
You spurn the kingly crumbs,
But you bring bread
To those who share your spiritual fast.

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