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TO HIMSELF, BELOVED, THE AUTHOR DEDICATES THESE LINES

Four words. Heavy,
like a blow to the head:
"Under Caesar ... unto God."
But where the hell does a man
like me fit in--
what shelter can I call my own?

If I were small,
like the Great Ocean,
I would rise on the waves and, tiptoe,
fawn on the moon like the tide.
But where is there a lover
like me?
She would be too big for the tiny sky.

O, if I were poor
like a billionaire!
What's money to the soul?
An insatiable thief lives there.
The rutting mob of my desire
doesn't give a damn
for all the gold in California.

O, to stutter or be dumb
like Dante ... or Petrarch!
My soul would make poems for one woman alone,
watching her burn to ash.
If my words, and my love
were a triumphal arch,
pompous and proud,
the sweethearts of every age
should stroll through ... trackless.

O, if I were
quiet,
like thunder,
I would moan aloud
in this sad old earth's embrace. If
with all my strength
I should raise my colossal voice,
comets would fling themselves down,
wringing their hands in anguish.

I would gnaw at the night
with my eyes
if I were dull, dull, dull--
like the sun.
Why should I nourish
the earth's lean lap
with my commodious rays?

I shall go by,
dragging my burden: O each and every love.
In what drunken
and sickly
night
was I sired by Giants--
I, so large,
so undesired?

(Vladimir Mayakovsky)

 

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