Sweeney Erect


                           And the trees about me,
       Let them be dry and leafless; let the rocks
       Groan with continual surges; and behind me
       Make all a desolation. Look, look, wenches!
     Paint me a cavernous waste shore
     Cast in the unstilted Cyclades,
     Paint me the bold anfractuous rocks
     Faced by the snarled and yelping seas.

     Display me Aeolus above
     Reviewing the insurgent gales
     Which tangle Ariadne's hair
     And swell with haste the perjured sails.

     Morning stirs the feet and hands
     (Nausicaa and Polypheme),
     Gesture of orang-outang
     Rises from the sheets in steam.

     This withered root of knots of hair
     Slitted below and gashed with eyes,
     This oval O cropped out with teeth:
     The sickle motion from the thighs

     Jackknifes upward at the knees
     Then straightens out from heel to hip
     Pushing the framework of the bed
     And clawing at the pillow slip.

     Sweeney addressed full length to shave
     Broadbottomed, pink from nape to base,
     Knows the female temperament
     And wipes the suds around his face.

     (The lengthened shadow of a man
     Is history, said Emerson
     Who had not seen the silhouette
     Of Sweeney straddled in the sun).

     Tests the razor on his leg
     Waiting until the shriek subsides.
     The epileptic on the bed
     Curves backward, clutching at her sides.

     The ladies of the corridor
     Find themselves involved, disgraced,
     Call witness to their principles
     And deprecate the lack of taste

     Observing that hysteria
     Might easily be misunderstood;
     Mrs. Turner intimates
     It does the house no sort of good.

     But Doris, towelled from the bath,
     Enters padding on broad feet,
     Bringing sal volatile
     And a glass of brandy neat.


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