Wednesday, September 16, 2009

"If not you, who will?"

I grow old under an intensity
Of questioning looks. Nonsense,
I try to say, I cannot teach you children
How to live.—If not you, who will?

Cries one of them aloud, grasping my gilded
Frame till the world sways. If not you, who will?
Between their visits the table, its arrangement
Of Bible, fern and Paisley, all past change,
Does very nicely. If ever I feel curious
As to what others endure,
Across the parlor you provide examples,
Wide open, sunny, of everything I am
Not. You embrace a whole world without once caring
To set it in order.

From "Mirror" by James Merrill. Read the complete poem here.

Heads of an Old Man and a Youth, Leonardo da Vinci, c.1500