The Saint and the Crab

By William Logan b. 1950 William Logan
Along the campo, Manin’s bronze winged lion prowled
among the tanned intruders, licking their hands.
Pools of iridescent shellfish
lay open in the restaurant window,

a shop of otherworldly opals, the mussels’ sheen
the skies of a closed heaven, crabs flat on their backs,
their armor intricate trapped plates and escapements.
The squid slumped in its own ink, the octopus appalled

in its slime. Many and ingenious are the postures of death.
But look! There, in a corner, beneath a willowware plate,
a lone crab clicked its claws, creeping
over a casket of walleyed fish,

through a valley of oysters keeping their counsel,
only to shift warily under the shadow of a wine bottle.
Which saint, O saints, watches over the saintly crab?
The man of forks and spears, the man of arrows?

In the Ca’ d’Oro, the stiffened Sebastian takes
each arrow through his flesh like a skewer.
He wears a little napkin around his middle.
Saint, watch over the fragile boat of the runaway crab.

Let him steal his way back to the green lagoon,
go floating down the Grand Canal on his own motoscafo.
Let him take second life, a later martyrdom.
Let him wave his bent claws in a mockery of farewell,

lest we eat in his hollow shell his captive meat.

William Logan, “The Saint and the Crab” from Macbeth in Venice. Copyright © 2003 by Wiliam Logan. Reprinted with the permission of Penguin, a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc. For online information about other Penguin Group (USA) books and authors, see

Source: Macbeth in Venice (Penguin Books, 2003)

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Poet William Logan b. 1950

Subjects Animals, Seas, Rivers, & Streams, Nature

Poetic Terms Free Verse


Poet and critic William Logan was born in Boston in 1950 and earned degrees from Yale University and the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. Since 1975, his work—both poetry and criticism—has regularly appeared in major journals and publications such as the New Yorker, the New York Times, the Paris Review, Poetry, and the New Criterion. He is the author of numerous books of poetry, including Sad-Faced Men (1982), Sullen Weedy Lakes (1988), . . .

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SUBJECT Animals, Seas, Rivers, & Streams, Nature

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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