Michael 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 Athene 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.