Robert Youngs Pelgrift, Jr. is a graduate of Princeton University and Harvard Law School, and he received the Special Diploma in Social Studies from Oxford University. He practiced law in New York City for many years, and he is now an editor for a legal publisher, working in New York City. His poems have been published in various anthologies and in The Lyric and the Rotary Dial.
Come under these long leaf-tresses that hide
the white sandy shore that coasts this deep stream,
and see your white and gold-tressed image gleam
in the smooth mirror in the pool’s still side.
Step in, and to the clear waters confide
your beauty, whose beckoning shadows redeem
your secrets, whose white, waving lines seem
to paint your Naiad’s image on the tide.
Now, like May’s nymph, rise; then glide to the shore,
let your cooled and watery image warm
and become itself again; while you stand
and dry on the beach, let the warmth restore
your rounded self; then lie and let your form
press its curved image in the soft white sand.
The Play’s Unity
Could I have lived by the play’s unity –
lived in one place, and spun a single thread
that measured just a day in memory,
a thread that, in a single quick stride, led
me from then to now? Well, it was not to be.
In this new place, a new thread seemed to start.
Now at first, the old thread seeme`d to lead me
back to our life at home, which seemed a part –
the first act – of the play. But then she died,
the Maker in the play, and so the past
ended, the thread broke; and no longer tied
to now, the past fell behind and at last,
faded, faded – and now I scarcely see
our old life at home in my memory.
The Sapphire Galaxies
Her Grecian brow and graven hair impart
the look of Aphrodite, with smooth cheek
and stone Sapphic eyes carved by Phidias’s art;
I dare not say a word, she does not speak.
Perhaps she is instead a Roman saint,
rendered by Dante’s brush in languid pose,
whose blue and violet eyes are fixed in paint,
whose silent budded lips bespeak the rose.
Behind these timeless eyes what passion lies?
Perhaps an ardent Sapphic verse just might –
evoke a mild greeting and cause these eyes
to shatter in a thousand shards of light.
The verse awakes a word, and marvelously,
each gem becomes a Sapphire galaxy.
A shadow crosses your face, like the shade
that trails a songbird wheeling in sunlight,
or the fleeting furrow on a still pond made
by a quick chill gust or a water sprite.
I look into your eyes, hoping to align
them with mine, but you see this and you turn,
and the shadow moves your eyes slightly off mine;
and what this could mean I’m afraid to learn.
I know you’ve changed the script, written my part
out after this page; I dare not read ahead;
but now the shadow that crosses the stage
riffles the script, called by your playwright art;
it’s the dying sunset breath I’ve come to dread,
the shadow of the turning of a page.