What the average sensual man cannot forgive
Or triumph over, slowly he forgets;
By thirty-five or so begins to live
With the faint metal taste of choked regret
Flavoring every swallow. For romance
He'll never find with girls he'll never meet,
And plutocratic ease in the south of France,
And the shouted homage of a trembling street,
He learns in time to substitute a wife,
Two weeks' vacation, the "respect of peers":
The prolonged catastrophe we call a life
Instead of the coming true of our worst fears.
If genius is to carry the pristine
Shock of perception to the bitter last,
There was no purer genius: philistine,
Uncompromising, foul mouth stuffed with rust.
The cases sweating in the flower shop
Preserve the daisy, lesser celandine
And other stragglers banished from the strip
That blooms along the Broadway median,
Whose fume-assaulted corridor is kept
Less as a landscape to get lost inside
Than as a scrap of litmus paper, dipped
Into the changing weather to provide
Chemical confirmation of the spring;
Or a St. Patrick's ribbon that declares
Allegiance to a country never seen;
Or homeopathic remedy that cures
With just a droplet where a dose would kill.
Your deep lung would have suffocated where
This April morning seems to give us all
We need or want, whose breaths are shallower.