Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE MOON, LI PO AND IPHIGENIA, by VIRGINIA RUSS



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THE MOON, LI PO AND IPHIGENIA, by            
First Line: The moon in the afternoon sky is a ghost
Last Line: Chaste sacrifices to the cold contending winds.
Subject(s): Li Po (701-762); Moon; Li Bai (71-762)


The moon in the afternoon sky is a ghost:
Indefinite, tentative, tremulous,
Apologetically wavering between two worlds --
Shadowy wraith uncertain of its status.
The moon in the afternoon sky is a ghost.
The blue of realistic day shines through its thin pearl cheek.

The moon rising from behind dark Konocti is
Dusty pink, dusty gold, rose flushed:
The tea-rose moon.

The moon setting behind the western coastal hills
Is pink pearl.
It borrows a flush from the rising sun --
Courtesan in pink satin voluptuously
Swooning upon a couch of turquoise.

All this about gold rosy moons, the tea-rose moon,
The warm air of dusk,
The lulling effect of the drinks coursing through the veins pleasantly fuddling the head,
The faint odour of sweet water at evening, the boats quietly gliding, lazily feathering oars and
waiting and drifting with the smooth swells.

In his time also how Li Po loved all these:
Prevailing theme of rivers and of gliding, of moons and water lilies --
Lotus, willow boughs, golden wine cups, and singing dancing girls,
Laughter, the tinkling sound of wind harps --
The moon in the yellow river and hyacinths:
How well, each in his own time, every poet loves hyacinths.

Alas, this age of social awareness and hard truths!
We may not turn away our eyes from dreariness to forget,
Dreaming an opiate exquisiteness
Though loving as well we may not enjoy guiltlessly.
Consider, contribute, correct, shrieks conscience, tedious reformer, relentless ascetic.
The sobs of the multitudes stop the siren songs in his ears,
No longer may a languorous poet enjoy his personal aesthetics.
No more impunity.

Farewell our dear escapist beauty, so well beloved,
Fairer than ever and doomed like Iphigenia --
Chaste sacrifices to the cold contending winds.





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