BLACK CAT POEMS
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Archaic Torso of Apollo
Rainer Maria Rilke
translated by James Burnham (1948- )
We never knew his incorrigible head
where the apple eyes ripened.
But his torso still glows like a lamp turned low,
preserving his radiant look.
Otherwise the curve of the breast
would not dazzle you, nor would a smile
rise from the soft turn of the loins
to that center, that fount of procreation.
Otherwise this stone would stand disfigured
beneath the naked plunge of the shoulders
and wouldn’t shimmer like a predator’s fur;
nor burst out on all sides
like a star: for there is no place
for you to hide. You must change your life.
poems by Rainer Maria Rilke