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, ...
As he lies mid his retinue of rats,
oblivious to the trickling water
and the maelstrom in the babbling sewer,
one might think his nose a hovel for flies
in the low and oppressive August heat,
but gladly he sleeps the sleep of the just,
like a foetus double-crossed in the womb.
Who but the passing ethereal white clouds,