Robert Duncan

(January 7, 1919 – February 3, 1988)

Rites of Passage II


Something is taking place.
Horns thrust upward from the brow.
Hooves beat impatient where feet once were.
My son, youth grows alarming in your face.
Your innocent regard is cruelly charming to me now.
You bristle where my fond hand would stir
to stroke your cheek. I do not dare.


Irregular meters beat between your heart and mine.
Snuffling the air you take the heat and scan
the lines you take in going as if I were or were not there
and overtake me.
And where it seems but yesterday I spilld the wine,
you too grow beastly to become a man.


Peace, peace. I’ve had enough. What can I say
when song’s demanded? —I’ve had my fill of song?
My longing to sing grows full. Time’s emptied me.


And where my youth was, now the Sun in you grows hot, your day
is young, my place you take triumphantly. All along
it’s been for you, for this lowering of your horns in challenge. She
had her will of me and will not


let my struggling spirit in itself be free.

Submitted: Saturday, April 17, 2010

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