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Ballad of the Diminished ICarl Rakosi
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Vol. 19 No. 13 · 3 July 1997
Poem

Ballad of the Diminished I

Carl Rakosi

181 words

‘Tell me, where does fancy breed?’
In the calyx of the crocus
in the springtime, a merry time
when the spirit bounds like a feather.

And a goatherd, two miles out of Oaxaca,
with his flock browsing ahead of him,
approached me and hesitantly,
as a simple man with one more learned,
asked, ‘What’s it like, Señor, in the city?’

And tell me, where does fancy lie?
In a bright star in a Miro.

And how close can we get to quiddity?
As close as a metaphor,

but the jaunty sparrow
skipping around and pecking for seeds
in my garden is its own quiddity,
for does he not sing
when all else cringes?

And compassion, where does it lie?
In a book. O noble book!

And I heard a voice, ‘It’s sad
but let me console thee.
There’s always beauty. ’

And when shall we be safe?
When the crocodile weds with the dove.

And when will fancy die?
When every man is master of his time.

And the design of the universe?
The nature of man? Pending.

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