"IN THE CRUEL BREASTS OF GRECIAN STATUARY..."
In the cruel breasts of grecian statuary,
the oiled bodies of athletes, the arrogant
awakeners of the flesh,
is Diotima: between flame and us
move the unspeculative masks, are cut
the adamant friezes.
Plotinus on the waterfront saw souls
lighting the outward unreal mesh of trees
and rooted hills: saw in
that darkly-sweeping spirit the bastion
of all tangible things, the whirlpool of the blood
with the unknown.
Perfected forms - the coloured rock, the flower,
or the shot-silk of breasts - in these a soul
dwells like a minotaur:
the spirit of the spiral, the ghost born
between earth and unattainable fire;
and resting here.
So, in those sensual imaginings,
those mindless chiselled blocks, there is implied
(higher than brain or blood)
that thought to which all beautiful belongs:
the ocean air, the godhead and the god
- artesian things.
The flesh is innocent, the stone is chaste;
but in the absolute and behindward ghost
the power and passion is.
The life of things is cruelty and lust:
girdled, we falter, in the adamant frieze
What dreams of porcelain majesty endure
the hands of angels, the soul's shattering bell?
This is the iron hell,
the ineluctable bond of impure
power: if you are living, soul, you, you're
my sensual shell.