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The Thirteenth Labor

时间:2021-01-31|栏目:英语诗歌|点击:

The Thirteenth Labor

Jonathan Wells

 

For Hercules, the thirteenth labor,

        is allowing the mortal lovers to go

back to their separate beds unreconciled,

        to leave well enough alone,

                to let their oaths uncouple

        from their stars, to abandon the

                            strange planets

            to the idiosyncrasies of their orbits.

        To shun the power that Zeus

had given, Hercules searches for fortitude

        along an ordinary shore where all waves

reach their breaking point, some staring

        with demonic eyes

                        while others lap

the beach rhapsodically.

        Recovering, he asks

the heavens for extra strength, not sleight

                        of hand or muscles he’d flexed before

cleaning or slaughtering or filching

        the golden apples of the nymphs.

                    He prays for

a mind that would leave the lovers

                    alone with their distrust.

        But that is another fantasy

of self-possession, of holding himself in check,

                    letting love be love; love refused, or

        breathing lightly or unloved

                    like unpicked apples. The lovers’ slurs,

staccato, strike the night and he is

                    certain that turning away

        is his one impossible labor.

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