The Apothecaries haue Bookes of Gold, whose
leaves being opened are so light as that they
are subiect to be shaken with the least breath,
yet rightly handled, they serue both for
ornament and vse; such are light Ayres.
By gold marquees the iron men tell time
And time tells iron men the way to rust.
Rust?—if the word go rummaging for rhyme
It scuffs what all journeys tumble into: dust.
Venice had water once, and has it yet
—Through wrack, and the dusty opulence of gold.
Gold?—loaded word: each resonance a threat
Of winter, age, sad bells. Lives bought and sold.
Airs take you, errant, where you’re loath to go
(Every enchantment’s coupled with a curse).
Breath moved to pleasure, but the lip fussed, woe;
Aspired to better, but the lip curled, worse.
Words stray, like funnel clouds, and trail debris;
Light airs make mockery of the gulled marquee.
This article originally appeared in The New Criterion, Volume 4 Number 8, on page 49
Copyright © 2020 The New Criterion | www.newcriterion.com