This body, tapped of every drop of breath,
In vast corruption of its swollen pride,
Proclaims itself the very whale of death;
Yet, I believe, the hand that plumbs its side
Will gather dissolution's sweet increase.
Exquisite fern of death--in nature, ambergris.
Meanwhile, thinking of love, I have been dressed
For such destruction. Though it surely break,
Come pluck the deep wild kernel of my breast,
That wafer of devotion, and partake
Of its compacted sweetness, till it bring
The soul to rise upon its fleshly wing.
If gentle heart be scorned, in scorn of it
I shall immerse it in such bitterness,
Bathe every pulse in such an acid wit,
That from my mammoth, cold, and featureless
Event of age, my enemies will flee,
Whereas my friends will stay and pillage me.
From The Collected Poems by Stanley Kunitz, W. W. Norton & Co., 2000, p. 27.