NO rack can torture me,
My soul ’s at liberty.
Behind this mortal bone
There knits a bolder one
You cannot prick with saw,
Nor rend with scymitar.
Two bodies therefore be;
Bind one, and one will flee.
The eagle of his nest
No easier divest
And gain the sky,
Than mayest thou,
Except thyself may be
Captivity is consciousness,
My candle burns at both ends;
It will not last the night;
But ah, my foes, and oh, my friends—
It gives a lovely light.
What would the people say, reduced and empty,
If one fortuitous day, by some extreme fantasy,
I were to dye my hair silvery and violet, were to wear an old greek gown, exchanging the comb
for a circlet of flowers: forget-me-nots or jasmines,
were to sing through the streets to the rhythm of the violins,
or were to read my verses aloud, traveling the plazas
my gusto freed of common gags?
Would they go to watch me, covering the sidewalks?
Would they burn me like they burned enchantresses?
Would they ring the bells, calling to mass?
In truth, when I think of it, I laugh a little.