Academic journal article Transactions of the American Philosophical Society

To Max Jacob

Academic journal article Transactions of the American Philosophical Society

To Max Jacob

Article excerpt

You were a moral dandy, sir. The font

could have twinkled with eau-de-cologne

for all you cared; the point

was only the soul's toilette, to keep

malicious Max immaculate. The stone

on which you knelt was bare,

the walls you prayed to innocent

of any devil's ornament. And yet

your piety is touching, though

(because?) histrionic: grown

old with the actor, the gesture must

approach perfection of artifice.

Superbly you litter your skull with dust,

raise up trembling lips to kiss

the godly Host. You've scarce a hair

but yank what you can, by God,

right out at the roots.

A fourteen-year scenario

of Job on ash-heap, vile,

repentant, all the while

so deadly bored you write your friends,

"The quality of work depends

all, on the kind of boredom."

What interior desert did you fear

so terribly, you chose

a monk's cell, not the city, for your stage? …

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