by Michael Shindler (December 2020)
Fig Tree, Marsden Hartley, 1924
A Great Ox
A great ox like a hill in a barren field
Standing black against the dawn
With body once broken, now healed,
With silver-mended horns and brawn:
He pushed past the sun
And the mountains, unplowed immensities,
And with his silver won
A briar-crown of vanities.
A purple abandoned in the dust
Of an impressionist painting;
A music fit for fame and fainting;
Wrought iron meant to rust.
What—in the tones ascending,
The colors caught and blending;
What—the metal mired in time:
Poems all—with a pall of rhyme.
The hues fade; the roar dies;
Genius glimmers to the grave;
Beauty itself closes its eyes
And sleeps a winter in its cave.
A satyr singing in the mist,
A fig tree behind him,
A bangle on his wrist,
And the world at his whim:
‘The clouds race, the birds chase,
And night comes like a thief;
Songs are sweet, men must eat,
But glory tastes of grief.’
Michael Shindler is a writer living in Washington, DC. His work has appeared in publications including The American Conservative, The American Spectator, National Review Online, New English Review, University Bookman, and Providence. Follow him on Twitter @MichaelShindler.
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