Leo Yankevich Poems
Apollo’s Archaic Torso
(after the German of Rainer Maria Rilke)
We have no knowledge of his ancient brow
where pippins ripen. Yet his torso gleams,
reflecting the candela, luminous streams
that yet pour from his gaze, his glance’s glow
still radiant, though dimmed. If not, his bare
breast would not blind you in the silent turn
of hip and thighs, a smile not flash and burn
through groins, his genitals not ever glare.
If not, this stone would seem deformed and small,
the light beneath his shoulder’s sudden fall
not seem a preying panther’s shimmering mane, ...
Blest be the dawn, the luminous blue-slate,
the arch transfused by the glorious sun,
and blackbirds chanting hymnals in prickly bushes,
and rooks high over fields coughing up love.
Blest be the winds about the furrowed brow,
and the joyful whispers of dying leaves,
the maples staggered blissfully behind barbed fences
above the tombs of the newly redeemed.