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  • By Michael R. Burch

To Have Loved

Fire of Troy - Kerstiaen de Keuninck

Helen, bright accompaniment,

accouterment of war as sure as all

the polished swords of princes groomed to lie

in mausoleums all eternity ...

The price of love is not so high

as never to have loved once in the dark

beyond foreseeing. Now, as dawn gleams pale

upon small wind-fanned waves, amid white sails, ...

now all that war entails becomes as small,

as though receding. Paris in your arms

was never yours, nor were you his at all.

And should gods call

in numberless strange voices, should you hear,

still what would be the difference? Men must die

to be remembered. Fame, the shrillest cry,

leaves all the world dismembered.

Hold him, lie,

tell many pleasant tales of lips and thighs;

enthrall him with your sweetness, till the pall

and ash lie cold upon him.

Is this all? You saw fear in his eyes, and now they dim

with fear’s remembrance. Love, the fiercest cry,

becomes gasped sighs in his once-gallant hymn

of dreamed “salvation.” Still, you do not care

because you have this moment, and no man

can touch you as he can, and when he’s gone

there will be other men to look upon

your beauty, and have done.

Smile—woebegone, pale, haggard. Will the tales

paint this—your final portrait? Can the stars

find any strange alignments, Zodiacs,

to spell, or unspell, what held beauty lacks?

Listen to ''To Have Loved'' recited out loud and bold!

Michael R. Burch is the editor of The HyperTexts, on-line at, where he has published hundreds of poets over the past twenty years. His poetry has been translated into eleven languages and set to music by three composers. A five-time Pushcart nominee, his poems, translations and essays have appeared in hundreds of literary journals, including Light Quarterly, The Lyric, Measure, Iambs & Trochees, Blue Unicorn, The Chariton Review, The Chimaera, Able Muse, Lucid Rhythms, Poem Today, Asses of Parnassus, Writer’s Digest—The Year’s Best Writing and The Best of the Eclectic Muse.

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