École des Beaux Arts

About suffering you were never wrong,
Pale Icarus: how unformed, hardly conscious yet,
So young, you stuck the feathers on,
Compliant with the old magician's wish, faith in him strong;
Then flapped about to get the feel of your new wings,
Leapt finally from a peak, soared ecstatically
So near the sun you surfed the tides of superstrings;
Then felt the soft wax melt and run, thin rivulet,
Along each arm, an interesting feeling, drip from elbows,
Wrists, and fingers grasping through the heat to gather back
The scattered feathers, reveling as each new sensation grows,
Not sensible, as yet, you'd fall—There's no such thing as suffering—toward black
Inkwell, the canon of American and English poetry.

In Auden's Musée, for instance: where a reader learns
About the ploughman and the ship, not how it burns
To recognize the feathers held one up, and view
Abruptly, with new eyes, that suffering is sure as gravity,
As unrelenting as one's innocence had been,
And what an unenviable position one was in;
For this we'd have to go to school to you
Yourself, who made that splash so few would see.

by Dan Campion

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Dan Campion lives in Iowa City. His poetry has appeared previously in Parody and in Light, Poetry, Rolling Stone, and other journals. He is a co-editor of the anthology Walt Whitman: The Measure of His Song. A third edition will launch in Spring 2019 to honor Whitman's 200th birthday.