Ma Petite Gridion
You want to be the subject of his art?
So you have been. He tells what's in his heart,
But your ears might as well be filled with clay
For the attention that you turn his way.
I tell you this: your beauty is sublime,
But he can never capture it in rhyme—
The verses that he writes are not so good
Touching on you; but they are writ with blood.
He writes about your beauty even though
It is a vanity he ought escape—
To order syllables and make a show,
Meters with gilded fineries to drape.
Come, let us have a laugh at his expense:
I know that he would gladly give up breath
To satisfy a passion so immense,
But he must live, condemned—a life like death.
I see him yearn to take the fiery poker
So that the world may understand his pain,
To suffer flagellation, or the choker—
No instrument of torture he’ll disdain.
His torment is a separation from
His object of desire; his great abhorrence
Loneliness for which no relief can come.
“Do now my backside,” he prays to St. Lawrence.
Your beauty will not last. Enjoy it now.
Heed not his protestations, nor succumb
To flatteries that ought to leave you numb.
I’ll keep a record of it anyhow.
Let those who bow and scrape to have their pleasure
Be deigned it or denied, so as your whim—
He scribbles madly. Pay no mind to him.
At long last my verse will record the measure.
Clown and Fool
I, like a strutting peacock, shake my feathers,
Albeit in impotence: no eyes attune
To see these colors. I may importune,
But seed is scattered which the jackdaw gathers.
No generation comes out from these loins—
In sum to versify is vanity,
Both he and I alike. Inanity
Preoccupies us, and we beg for coins.
The flowers that he gives are beautiful,
While mine are cankered, droopy, spotted, dull—
He gives true roses; mine are rather sham,
Pictures in words, descriptive—what I am.
I give to you myself, you do not take,
But ages hence may use what you forsake,
Refusal rendered fecund fortunate,
Blossoms such as will not go out of date.
They left me chained beside the waterhole,
Not near enough to drink or move about,
But close enough that I was left no doubt
As to the quantity that others stole.
Did I deserve this treatment? I saw you
Laughing amongst your chums. Was your neglect
Intended with aforethought? I suspect
My presence there beside you scarcely knew.