I sing the story of a man, and of arms1,
The female ones that kept his heart from falling,
Loveless, into an other’s pants, made him
Who he was: their impassioned glover
And—it was his hope—a faithful friend.
Not of one woman I sing, but of ten
Whose fair names—Kerry, Becky, Ellanor,
Véra and Kris; Marina, Lesley, Jeanne
Marie and Jan; and, finally, Eutychia 2—
Defy the rule that lists in song
Don’t scan, and leave a trail of scent
To lead the curious on. Give me strength,
O Muse, to extract perfume and essence
From such full blossom, to suck and press
These flowers one by one till their secrets
Exude in valediction to mortal love.
If words are deeds then hearts are stones
And these will found a gynaeceum eternal
Like the cat-crept ramparts of high Rome.