Three Poems: Then and Now

Catharine Savage Brosman

Silvia (from Shakespeare’s first play, Two Gentlemen of Verona)

William Shakespeare (1564-1616)

Who is Silvia?  What is she?
That all our swains commend her?
Holy, fair, and wise is she;
The heaven such grace did lend her,
That she might admirèd be.

Is she kind as she is fair?
For beauty lives with kindness:
Love doth to her eyes repair,
To help him of his blindness;
And, being help’d, inhabits there.

Then to Silvia let us sing,
That Silvia is excelling;
She excels each mortal thing
Upon the dull earth dwelling:
Let us to her garlands bring.
 

Ozymandias

Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822)

I met a traveler from an antique land
Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert.  Near them, on the sand,
half-sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed;
And on the pedestal these words appear:
“My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!”
Nothing beside remains.  Round the decay
of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.
 

Moon Tracks

A Poem in the Manner of Yüan-Hung-tao

Catharine Savage Brosman

Tonight the moon will glide along its tracks
in cloudless skies.  Do I have tracks?  And can
I trace them, or, in ignorance, or blind,
presume to follow anyhow?  My friend
says, “Let things be,” as though our acts

could not be modified.  And so I wait,
but then decide I might see better by
the moonlight of my mind than by the sun
and sense.  What’s shadow may reveal a glow,
and contours of the landscape come alive.


Catharine Savage Brosman is professor emerita of French at Tulane University; [email protected]. Her book, Arm in Arm: Poems was published this year by Mercer University Press.

Image: Ganapathy Kumar, Public Domain

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