Academic journal article Parnassus : Poetry in Review


Academic journal article Parnassus : Poetry in Review


Article excerpt

Among all the masons of ancient Egypt

There must have been one who considered the pyramids

A colossal blunder. Why a mountain of cut stone,

He wondered, when with a twentieth of the outlay

The kingdom might have been graced with a thousand gardens,

Public retreats where workers could stroll at their ease

On feast days sacred to Ra and his dazzling family?

One individual is enough to prove

We needn't be rooted in one era only,

Unknowable to eras long gone or yet to come.

The masons teen-aged daughter isn't a mystery

As she sits on a balmy night by her open window.

She's kin to the young Natasha as Tolstoy describes her Leaning at the sill in her room of the summer house. "How can you think of sleeping, Sonia,"

She asks her cousin, "on a night so glorious,

With the moon as full as this one, the air this fragrant?"

And Prince Andrew overhears her in the room above

As he leans at the window, and is moved

To reconsider his skeptical premises

Just as hearing the Egyptian girl would move him,

Luring him into the world of common feelings

While a branch of the leafless tree

Rooted inside him bursts into bloom.

Petals are falling in ancient Egypt

And in a chapter of War and Peace

Far from the war zone, in a province of private life

That Tolstoy knows better than anyone.

As for his views of war-that battles are won

Not by the tactics of generals but by the spirit

Of armies and peoples unfolding in history

It leaves the mason scratching his head

As he pauses from mixing mortar outside of Cairo,

Just as it leaves us uneasy with its whiff of Hegel. …

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