Monday, December 1, 2014
Sleeping Beauty (Viktor Vasnetsov), Sonnet #216
For Irina Velitskaya
Even the family brown bear
Joined the princess in endless sleep
In the embrambled castle keep.
The prince found her pale, cold, but fair,
And released her, her retinue,
From endless dreams to nothing new.
A wedding and two babes conceived
Enraged the prince's ogress queen,
Who ordered them served up in sauce,
Though she was easily deceived,
With hind and lamb in a tureen,
By the cook, who hated his boss.
She died in a barrel of snakes.
Each day the sleeping beauty wakes.
We've all been asleep for 100 years,
So, when we wake, vigorously alive,
As the creeping armies of night arrive,
We will wash them out to sea with our fears.
The cannibals will have themselves to eat.
The king and queen will summon a piper
To drive away the thorn and the viper,
But hear only their own hearts cease to beat.
What we will make of our new universe
Depends (like the fine point of a spindle)
On how tiny, sharp our hearts will dwindle.
Will we invite a new, more evil curse?
Sleep on, nothing will happen while we do.
The prince's kiss has changed into a moue.
Click on the image to see a larger version.
Frontispiece from Visions of the Daughters of Albion (Blake), Sonnet #215
The rapist and his victim chained,
The lover, his anguish burning
Hottest where his tears had rained,
On pale cheeks, twisted lips: yearning
For her touch is all that remained.
The rape forged its own manacles,
The woman's shame and the man's fear,
(He finds, wherever he looks, a mirror).
She's no longer a miracle
Of virgin grace and purity.
The rapist is a stupid beast
She can neither hate nor pity.
The sun breaks through clouds to the east,
And melts the chains. The lovers kiss.
The third drowns himself with a hiss.