by Stanley Kunitz
Before I am completely shriven
I shall reject my inch of heaven.
Cancel my eyes, and, standing, sink
Into my deepest self; there drink
Memory down. The banner of
My blood, unfurled, will not be love,
Only the pity and the pride
Of it, pinned to my open side.
When I have utterly refined
The composition of my mind,
Shaped language of my marrow till
Its forms are instant to my will,
Suffered the leaf of my heart to fall
Under the wind, and, stripping all
The tender blanket from my bone,
Rise like a skeleton in the sun,
I shall have risen to disown
The good mortality I won.
Drectly risen with the stain
Of life upon my crested brain,
Which I shall shake against my ghost
To frighten him, when I am lost.
Gladly as any poison, yield
My halved conscience, brightly peeled;
Infect him, since we live but once,
With the unused evil in my bones.
I'll shed the tear of souls, the true
Sweat, Blake's intellectual dew,
Before I am resigned to slip
A dusty finger on my lip.
Last updated May 02, 2015