Spring 1952 • Vol. XIV No. 2 PoetryApril 1, 1952 |

The Song of the Beasts

(According to ancient Roman law, a man convicted of parricide was condemned to be flogged, and then sewn in a sack with a cock, a viper, a dog and an ape, and thrown into the sea, or a deep river.)   I am the cock with armored feet,   Copper feathers and golden eyes;     The crown of Foolery, Blood-red and boneless as the jester's crown,   Betokens my notorious heat,     Rises upright in vice, And is my rare, appropriate jewelry. Water can cleanse, and therefore I must drown.   I am the ape with bestial hair,   Prehensile feet, and apt for sin,   A faithful mockery Of man, his gross and moralizing clown;   And though he shave his body bare,     Under the tattered skin We are one beast beyond all mimicry. Water can cleanse, and therefore I must drown.   I am the dog of appetites,   Death passes between my jaws     And finds no sanctity In church or grave or laurel-flanked renown:   Teeth have their ol

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Anthony Hecht (1923- 2004) followed the G.I. bill to study with John Crowe Ransom at Kenyon. He wrote eight books of poetry and two works of nonfiction, winning the Pulitzer Prize for his poetry collection The Hard Hours in 1967. In his lifetime he also received the Bollingen Prize, the Ruth Lilly Prize, the Loines Award, the Librex-Guggenheim Eugenio Montale Award, and the Harriet Monroe Poetry Award, as well as fellowships from the Academy of American Poets, the American Academy in Rome, the Ford Foundation, the Guggenheim Foundation, and the Rockefeller Foundation. He was a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets and lived in Washington, D.C.

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The Deodand

By Anthony Hecht

(According to ancient Roman law, a man convicted of parricide was condemned to be flogged, and then sewn in a sack with a cock, a viper, a dog and an […]

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