“A Lesson for This Sunday” by Derek Walcott
The growing idleness of summer grass
With its frail kites of furious butterflies
Requests the lemonade of simple praise
In scansion gentler than my hammock swings
And rituals no more upsetting than a
Black maid shaking linen as she sings
The plain notes of some Protestant hosanna—
Since I lie idling from the thought in things—
Or so they should, until I hear the cries
Of two small children hunting yellow wings,
Who break my Sabbath with the thought of sin.
Brother and sister, with a common pin,
Frowning like serious lepidopterists.
The little surgeon pierces the thin eyes.
Crouched on plump haunches, as a mantis prays
She shrieks to eviscerate its abdomen.
The lesson is the same. The maid removes
Both prodigies from their interest in science.
The girl, in lemon frock, begins to scream
As the maimed, teetering thing attempts its flight.
She is herself a thing of summery light,
Frail as a flower in this blue August air,
Not marked for some late grief that cannot speak.
The mind swings inward on itself in fear
Swayed towards nausea from each normal sign.
Heredity of cruelty everywhere,
And everywhere the frocks of summer torn,
The long look back to see where choice is born,
As summer grass sways to the scythe’s design.
“Rapunzel” by Anne Sexton
who loves a woman
is forever young.
and the student
feed off each other.
Many a girl
had an old aunt
who locked her in the study
to keep the boys away.
They would play rummy
or lie on the couch
and touch and touch.
Old breast against young breast…
Let your dress fall down your shoulder,
come touch a copy of you
for I am at the mercy of rain,
for I have left the three Christs of Ypsilanti
for I have left the long naps of Ann Arbor
and the church spires have turned to stumps.
The sea bangs into my cloister
for the politicians are dying,
and dying so hold me, my young dear,
“The Dream” by Aphra Behn—
All trembling in my arms Aminta lay,Defending of the bliss I strove to take;Raising my rapture by her kind delay,Her force so charming was and weak.The soft resistance did betray the grant,While I pressed on the heaven of my desires;Her rising breasts with nimbler motions pant;Her dying eyes assume new fires.Now to the height of languishment she grows,And still her looks new charms put on;Now the last mystery of Love she knows,We sigh, and kiss: I waked, and all was done.
‘Twas but a dream, yet by my heart I knew,Which still was panting, part of it was true:Oh how I strove the rest to have believed;Ashamed and angry to be undeceived!