Monday, April 21, 2008

To a Calvinist in Bali

You that are sprung of northern stock,
And nothing lavish, born and bred
With tablets at your foot and head,
And CULPA carven on the rock,

Sense with delight but not with ease
The fragrance of the quinine trees,
The kembang-spatu's lolling flame
With solemn envy kin to shame.

Ah, be content!-The scorpion's tail
Atones for much; without avail
Under the sizzling solar pan
Our sleeping servant pulls the fan.

Even in this island richly blest,
Where beauty walks with naked breast,
Earth is too harsh for Heaven to be
One little hour in jeopardy.

-Edna St. Vincent Millay-


Jeff Moss said...

I don't get the last two lines of the third stanza, and I have a feeling they're important.

Thomas Banks said...

As I see it, she's saying that The tcharm of the world isn't enough for anyone to hope that this is all there is.