Editor’s Note: As of August 14, 2006, we are no longer accepting sestina submissions.
The Firm Desire.
I have a firm desire, and I enter
Unbending, driven deeply, hard as nail.
What lies! Such gossip has plundered my soul—
But since I cannot bear this flimsy rod,
I’ll play the flute until it cries uncle
In secret, before her closet-chamber.
I go softly limp before that chamber
Where conquering men can never enter;
The bedroom guard, both angels and uncles,
Dissolve pride—even to the fingernail—
Of suitors, stiff like boys before the rod.
Such fears of not being hers, in my soul!
At least in bodied flesh, if not in soul,
Let her hide me, once, in that chamber!
Let wounds the heart embraced not spare the rod!
Servant to her secrets, I should enter!
Now bind me close to her—as flesh to nail—
And heed no warnings from friend or uncle.
Even the sweet daughter of my uncle
I never loved so well—with all my soul.
The quick between her finger and her nail,
So would I be, and press into her chamber.
And molded to its will, love would enter
This heart, this soldier with a tender rod.
Since syrup last flowed from a withered rod,
And Adam fathered nephew and uncle,
Never has love blossomed so! Now enter
My heart, and dwell in neither flesh nor soul,
But where she lives—in each street, each chamber
That bears me, Father, to the Sacred Nail.
At last, veil bloodied by the caulking nail!
My heart holds her, as bark to sapling-rod.
My dizzying tower’s joy, her chamber
Where no love for father, friend, or uncle
Remains—only Heaven’s sweet-doubled soul
In spooning’s cup, where I slowly enter.
Arnaut spouts song, of nail crying, “uncle!”
By grace of her who claims the rod’s bent soul,
To all! Unchamber her praise, and enter!
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