Roman Orpheus
Bear your lamb from harm   –
Protector of the lost and newly-born
The tender creature draped upon
Your adolescent shoulder
The only princely mantle you lay down

To frolic with the nightingales and fishes
Concordant yet transcending nature’s power   –
Your simple tunic boasts
No purple trim   –   authority
Lives only in the grace-notes of your lyre

One naked foot is pierced
By time’s narcotic thorn
But your eyes see all too clear   –
And so the ikon-makers shall suggest
Your candid poet’s face
A pattern of harmonic countenance
Beneath the un-recorded face of Christ

‘The Good Shepherd’ you become   – also
‘The Harrower of Hell’

Where hides that wounded fawn Eurydice
Your shy Byzantine princess?
‘Don’t look back’   –   she has become
In semblance of her bridal fresco
The numinous white flame of the Holy Virgin   –

South of Tiber’s sage-green trailing ribbon
Fountains   groves of olives   lemon gardens
Are her veil



Bernard Saint  
Illustration: Claire Palmer




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