Robartes and the Dancer

He. Opinion is not worth a rush;
    In this altar-piece the knight,
    Who grips his long spear so to push
    That dragon through the fading light,
    Loved the lady; and it’s plain
    The half-dead dragon was her thought,
    That every morning rose again
    And dug its claws and shrieked and fought.
    Could the impossible come to pass
    She would have time to turn her eyes,
    Her lover thought, upon the glass
    And on the instant would grow wise.
She. You mean they argued.
He.                     Put it so;
    But bear in mind your lover’s wage
    Is what your looking-glass can show,
    And that he will turn green with rage
    At all that is not pictured there.
She. May I not put myself to college?
He. Go pluck Athena by the hair;
    For what mere book can grant a knowledge
    With an impassioned gravity
    Appropriate to that beating breast,
    That vigorous thigh, that dreaming eye?
    And may the devil take the rest.
She. And must no beautiful woman be
    Learned like a man?
He.                     Paul Veronese
    And all his sacred company
    Imagined bodies all their days
    By the lagoon you love so much,
    For proud, soft, ceremonious proof
    That all must come to sight and touch;
    While Michael Angelo’s Sistine roof,
    His ‘Morning’ and his ‘Night’ disclose
    How sinew that has been pulled tight,
    Or it may be loosened in repose,
    Can rule by supernatural right
    Yet be but sinew.
She.                     I have heard said
    There is great danger in the body.
He. Did God in portioning wine and bread
    Give man His thought or His mere body?
She. My wretched dragon is perplexed.
He. I have principles to prove me right.
    It follows from this Latin text
    That blest souls are not composite,
    And that all beautiful women may
    Live in uncomposite blessedness,
    And lead us to the like—if they
    Will banish every thought, unless
    The lineaments that please their view
    When the long looking-glass is full,
    Even from the foot-sole think it too.
She. They say such different things at school.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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