The hope a mooncalf follows
is sacrifice for slaughter,
and yet the wings of swallows
still skip across the water. 

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Apollo’s Archaic Torso

We have no knowledge of his ancient brow
where pippins ripen. Yet his torso gleams,
reflecting the candela, luminous streams
that yet pour from his gaze, his glance’s glow
still radiant, though dimmed. If not, his bare
breast would not blind you in the silent turn
of hip and thighs, a smile not flash and burn
through groins, his genitals not ever glare.
If not, this stone would seem deformed and small,
the light beneath his shoulder’s sudden fall
not seem a preying panther’s shimmering mane,
not burst beyond the limits of the skies,
starlike, until there is no point or plane
blind to your ways. You must change your life.
after the German of Rainer Maria Rilke (1875-1926)
translated by Leo Yankevich
first appeared in The New Formalist
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© by Leo Yankevich