Except for being featured at texfiles, it's been a hellish week and for no discernable reason. I've felt so old (and only 51!) and tired, and far from those I love, and poetry sustains me, particularly the poetry I've loved the most: C. P. Cavafy, Denise Levertov, Paul Goodman, and Robert Graves.
Typing in the Cavafy last night reminded me how differently Paul Goodman experienced his sexuality, though it was never for him easy—is it for any of us?
Taylor, these unreasonable days
gentle it is how we have been for each
other practical and very sweet
friends. I am not bashful to praise
how we in spite of persons and bad laws
and the envious opinion of the street
enjoyed our simple sex without deceit
that others fear and hide for no good cause.
Exactly of a continent the span
divides us now: you where upon the rocks
the seals play outside the Golden Gate,
I watch the stormier Atlantic that
ceaselessly on Fire Island knocks,
who only yesterday were hand in hand.
Here's Levertov (hey, I know it doesn't scan), the first section of "Ancient Airs and Dances":
I knew too well
what had befallen me
when, one night, I put my lips to his wineglass
after he left—an impulse I thought was locked away with a smile
into memory's museum.
When he took me to visit friends and the sea, he lay
asleep in the next room's dark where the fire
rustled all night; and I, from a warm bed, sleepless,
watched through the open door
that glowing hearth, and heard,
drumming the roof, the rain's
Greyhaired, I have not grown wiser,
unless to perceive absurdity
is wisdom. A powerless wisdom.
And Graves, "The Twin of Sleep":
Death is the twin of Sleep, they say:
For I shall rise renewed,
Free from the cramps of yesterday,
Clear-eyed and supple-thewed.
But though this bland analogy
Help other folk to face
Madness, disease, disgrace,
I do not like Death's greedy looks:
Give me his twin instead—
Sleep never auctions off my books,
My boots, my shirts, my bed,