The Contest


Your stature is modelled
with straight tool-edge:
you are chiselled like rocks
that are eaten into by the sea

With the turn and grasp of your wrist
and the chords' stretch,
there is a glint like worn brass.

The ridge of your breast is taut,
and under each the shadow is sharp,
and between the clenched muscles
of your slender hips.

From the circle of your cropped hair
there is light,
and about your male torso
and the foot-arch and the straight ankle.


You stand rigid and mighty —
granite and the ore in rocks;
a great band clasps your forehead
and its heavy twists of gold.

You are white — a limb of cypress
bent under a weight of snow

You are splendid,
your arms are fire;
you have entered the hill-straits —
a sea treads upon the hill-slopes.


Myrtle is about your head,
you have bent and caught the spray:
each leaf is sharp
against the lift and furrow
of your bound hair.

The narcissus has copied the arch
of your slight breast:
your feet are citron-flowers,
your knees, cut from white-ash,
your thighs are rock-cistus.

Your chin lifts straight
from the hollow of your curved throat
your shoulders are level —
they have melted rare silver
for their breadth.
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