Man with Gold Earring
Man with Gold Earring

I do not see you with my eyes
but with my heart.
I cannot hope for recognition
it was like this from the start.
I seek the light of your reflection
and hope for those few
moments of illumination
when I look straight at you.

I must sing of brave knights
and their valiant fights,
and of ladies fair
who are not there.
The men are at sea,
bound for another country.
My songs sing out loud
the needs and wants of the crowd.
Obey their whims
satisfy their sins
adjust their fancies
embroider their fantasies
and sing and sing invective
they are not at all selective.

Then I withdraw with chameleon grace
into the tapestries and hide my face.
In my turret I nurture my own tortured soul,
and I play and sing what I please.
It is not the loneliness—of being alone
for I treasure my solitude.
But the loneliness—of her presence.
The loneliness—of being surrounded
by shallow people—
who politic their way to power
and are my companions.
The loneliness—of dismissal
by these princes of ignorance.
They say that it is better
to be by yourself
than to wish you were.

On grey overcast days
they commanded me to praise
I make minstrel moans
to distract the audience
from their complaints and groans;
fire satire at the enemy
conjure magic as a strategy.
As I build to my crescendo
I serenade with innuendo.
They drown me with their drivel drone
and I sing them a triple chorus
of—“I want to be alone.”

One dimpled smile
of my lady’s mirth
imprints my brain
and gives me my worth.
My lady looks
but she does not see.
All I want her to do
is to recognize me.

Another time—not so futile
I will sing of our ancestors
and she will smile.
I will surround her with charm
and try to beguile.
I will sing of the Triads—
three causes which ruin a state—
inordinate privileges
corruption of justice
national apathy.
She will understand me.

The Cretan labyrinth copies
the stellar universe.
I will pluck those stars
for my lady—
and lead her astray,
into my disaster.
Listen to the message in my poems
and decipher the meaning.
Meet her in the sacred grove.
One hundred forty-seven trees,
one of them will please.
The rowan perhaps—
whose berries copy her lips.
Where she steps on her toes
the white trefoil grows.

In the Great Hall her
unworthy husband lies
ruined by wine
and stupefied by mead—
his head in a vomited bed.
I am told by drooling drunkards
to sing of heroes in battles
and violence and blood
and death and mutilation
and corpses in the mud.
My lady leaves the scene sadly,
glancing back at me—
while I am wishing for eternity.