Louise Gluck




Parable of the King

The great king looking ahead
saw not fate but simply
dawn glittering over
the unknown island: as a king
he thought in the imperative -- best
not to reconsider direction, best
to keep going forward
over the radiant water. Anyway,
what is fate but a strategy for ignoring
history, with its moral
dilemmas, a way of regarding
the present, where decisions
are made, as the necessary
link between the past (images of the king
as a young prince) and the glorious future (images
of slave girls). Whatever
it was ahead, why did it have to be
so blinding? Who could have known
that wasn’t the usual sun
but flames rising over a world
about to become extinct?