Mooning The Haters: A Poem That Does Not Mention Curves Or Sheerness

[after Philodemus' epigram 5.123 in Anthologica Graeca]

 

"Some have at first for wits, then poets pass'd,
Turned critics next, and prov'd plain fools at last . . ."

---Alexander Pope, An Essay On Criticism

 

"Beauty is momentary in the mind---
The fitful tracing of a portal;

But in the flesh it is immortal."

---Wallace Stevens, Peter Quince At The Clavier, IV

 

[Odysseus at Phaeacia, loquitor]

 

Bring your reflected brightness, evening moon;

and shine forth into Nausikaa's window.

I shall not speak of her pear-shape,

nor of the silks in which her nakedness is covered---

for this would turn her into an object, they tell me;

and to that they might raise object---ions,

or maybe even toss rotten vegetal objects at me.

The sum of her is more than the parts of her flesh---

but I cannot uncover the thoughts of her mind,

until she "fleshes them out," so to speak, in words.

I cannot begin to enjoy the presence of her soul,

without the communication of flesh to flesh---
the only way possible in this material world.

And why did Divinity, which is spirit,
bestow upon us material flesh and blood and bone---

which, themselves consist of elements

(skeptics may not care to credit this)

elements exploded from the seething cores of stars?
Are we not intended to admire---

or even desire

to partake of---the beauty provided by our flesh?

My grandfather's friend, Solomon,

wrote of his lady's physical beauty

in striking metaphors and similes.

But I may not speak, thus, of Nausikaa;

and you, moon, cannot speak at all,

but can only watch and smile upon lovers

communicating with each other's soul,

by exploring the pleasures inherent in their bodies---

in the intimate coverts of their delectation.

You and I, moon, must maintain an orbiting silence,

lest we incite a spate of verbal violence.
Moon, I may not even speak of your effulgent beauty---

for that would be to objectify you;

perhaps Nausikaa will describe herself---

would that become, then, subjectification . . .

and is that (as future folks might say:

okay?

 

Author's Notes/Comments: 

The poem alludes to Samuel Butler's theory that Nausikaa actually wrote The Odyssey.  I hope that Butler did not objectify her in the process.

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