In What Sense I Am I

In what sense
                           I am I
a minor observer
                                 as in a dream
absorbed in the interior,

a beardless youth
                                   unaccountably
remote yet present
                                      at the action
reminding me faintly
                                          of Prufrock. . . .
a diminutive figure
                                     barely discernible
seemingly ageless
                                  escapes me.

The original impulse
                                        to sing
compressed
                        into one exultant note
breaks out
                      of the chest-space,
vibrating along
                             the shoulders
in the presence
                             of full-bodied
womanliness,
                          the eyes dark
in the inner scene,
                                   the hair long
and black,
                        our dark lady,
inmate of courtship.

She does not speak.
                                       She is nameless.
The reason for her
                                     presence there
is unknown.

A shepherd,
                        vaguely associated,
stands
             at a distance
under
            a birch tree,
causally,
                 playing a flute.
Sweetness
                     streams across. . . .
also
            from the balance
and the position
                                of each,
it issues.

Neither moves.
                               The scene
is not matter
                                that can pall
or diminish.
                                Its secret holds
as fast as I.

As in Giorgione
                                the suspense
is eternal.

Carl Rakosi, "In What Sense I Am I" from The Collected Poems, published by the National Poetry Foundation. Copyright © 1986 by Carl Rakosi.  Reprinted by permission of the Estate of Carl Rakosi.
Source: The Collected Poems (National Poetry Foundation, 1986)
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