Elaborations on a Line by Blake

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by Jeffrey Burghauser (February 2021)


The Prophesy of Isaiah, Marc Chagall, 1969

 

After Swinburne & Leonard Cohen

Lovers perform a ballet, a
Drama enacting the old
Prophecy dazing Isaiah
There in the beryl & gold
Garden inside of the Zion
Trapped in an hour of sleep:
      Man wears the fell of the lion;
      Woman, the fleece of the sheep.

Donning these sodden & tattered
Skins will diminish the hard
Worry of being the battered
Thing of another’s regard.
Thanatos fastens his eye on
What he endeavors to keep.
      Man wears the fell of the lion;
      Woman, the fleece of the sheep.

Gentle Marie Antoinette at-
Tíres herself like a serf
Herding flocks frantic to get at
Clover mislaid in the turf—
Foolery placing Versailles on
Intimate terms with the Deep.
      Man wears the fell of the lion;
      Woman, the fleece of the sheep.

Soldiers uncaged by the Tsar in-
Dígnantly pant in the hay,
Hunting for women (…who are, in
General, ready to say
Something engagingly wry on
Orders announced from a jeep.)
      Man wears the fell of the lion;
      Woman, the fleece of the sheep.

Naked & freezing, he kneels. Of
Course all the national news
Packages fulsome appeals of
Tailors & seamstresses whose
Robes of defeat you can buy on
Credit; they never were cheap.
      Man wears the fell of the lion;
      Woman, the fleece of the sheep.

Everything’s going to hell, or
Hell is advancing to us.
Echoes at odds in a shell or
Vault of the sunset discuss
Why the white hand of Orion
Clenches a pelt. And we weep:
      “Man wears the fell of the lion;
      Woman, the fleece of the sheep.

“Tell us,” the supplicants chanted,
“Who can subsist from within
Genuine, Providence-granted
Eyes & original skin!”—
Devils ordaining we die on
Mellowing slopes of a heap.
      Man wears the fell of the lion;
      Woman, the fleece of the sheep.

Man wears the fell of the lion;
Woman, the fleece of the sheep.
Lye is the caustic they ply on
Both when their carcasses seep.
Grace (like a vest) is awry on
Mortals who cower & creep.
      Man wears the fell of the lion;
      Woman, the fleece of the sheep.

Table of Contents

 

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Jeffrey Burghauser is a teacher in Columbus, OH. He was educated at SUNY-Buffalo and the University of Leeds. He currently studies the five-string banjo with a focus on pre-WWII picking styles. A former artist-in-residence at the Arad Arts Project (Israel), his poems have appeared (or are forthcoming) in Appalachian Journal, Fearsome Critters, Iceview, Lehrhaus, and New English Review. Jeffrey’s book-length collections are available on Amazon, and his website is www.jeffreyburghauser.com.

Follow NER on Twitter @NERIconoclast

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