Louise Gl├╝ck




The Golden Bough

Even the goddess of love
fights for her children, her vanity
notwithstanding: more than other heroes,
Aeneas flourished; even the road back upward from hell
was simplified. And the sacrifice of love
less painful than for the other heroes.
His mind was clear: even as he endured sacrifice,
he saw its practical purpose. His mind was clear,
and in its clarity, fortified against despair,
even as grief made more human a heart
that might otherwise have seemed immutable. And beauty
ran in his veins: he had no need
for more of it. He conceded to other visions
the worlds of art and science, those paths that lead
only to torment, and instead gathered
the diverse populations of earth
into an empire, a conception
of justice through submission, an intention "to spare the humble
and to crush the proud": subjective,
necessarily, as judgments necessarily are.
Beauty ran in his veins; he had no need for more of it.
That and his taste for empire:
that much can be verified.