Allegorical Statue in the Style
of the Renaissance

It is a legacy of Tuscan skill;
see how the holy sisters, Power and Grace,
sustain this woman’s beauty in a form
so faultless as to seem miraculous—
given pride of place above rich beds
to charm a prince’s leisure, or a pope’s. . .

—Notice the faint voluptuous smile that shows,
that shares the consummation of Desire;
observe that teasing glance which penetrates
the subtle coquetry of gauzy veils
around a face whose every feature speaks,
not just the parted lips too shy to boast:
“When Lust commands me, even Love obeys!”
Look how the languor in her posture adds
a certain mischief to this majesty;
come closer—walk around her loveliness. . .

What blasphemy of art is this! Upon
a body made to offer every bliss
appear. . . two heads! A monster? No—

one is merely a mask, a grinning cheat
that smile, illumined with exquisite care.
Look there: contorted in her misery,
the actual head, the woman’s countenance
lost in the shadow of the lying mask. . .
Pathos of true beauty! the bright tears
trickle into my astonished heart;
your lie intoxicates me, and my soul
slakes its passion in your brimming eyes!

—Why is she weeping? Surely such a face
would put all mankind, vanquished, at her feet!
What secret evil feeds on her firm flesh?

—She weeps, you fool, for having lived! and for
living—yet what she laments the most,
what makes her body tremble head to toe,
is that tomorrow she will have to live,
and all tomorrows after—like ourselves!