Lament of Tantalus
O ardent aching confection
that mocks at my plight with that delectable eye!
Were I not a lately old and shriveled thing
and were you not cruel and inaccessible,
withdrawing your fickle nectar that would me heal,
I’d savor you with more than eyes –
but with lips and tongue and swallow you wholly.
You, so cool and sweet…
That you should engender in me burning
and hammer the nail of irony
into my already petrifying heart --
so heavy I would drown me
in these fickle waters
without need of any other stone!
The waters which might me save
by depriving this wretched coil of breath
by sweetening this parchéd throat of mine –
killing or quickening, no matter now,
they make twins on the scale which weighs my desires.
You, sister limpid-laughing-water!
You take equal part in my eternal dying-without-death,
and your merry burbling song,
into which I might otherwise plunge,
makes yet a greater weight of my heart.
You tease me,
pretending you would meet me halfway up
would I but bow to meet you halfway down.
But you refuse me both:
neither will me engulf
nor quite abandon me to death.
I am the dying-but-never-dead.
Mark you, O fully-live and heaven-cherished ones!
Mark, that you may learn from my fate.