Anthony Hecht in the third section of “Meditation” engages in speculative ekphrasis, that is the description of an imaginary painting in which appear a madonna surrounded by saints. On one side is St. John the Baptist and

Across from him, relaxed but powerful,
Stands St. Sebastian, who is neither a ruse
To give a young male nude with classic torso
Into an obviously religious painting,
Nor one who suffers his target martyrdom
Languidly or with a masochist’s satisfaction.
He experiences a kind of acupuncture

I read an ironic note with the introduction of Chinese healing technique in this description. (The word sticks out like a pin.) Of course “acupuncture” rhymes with “rapture” and so might explain the continuation:

He experiences a kind of acupuncture
That in its blessedness has set him free
To attend to everything except himself

There is an odd sort of self-cancellation at work here. In a tingling fashion.

Complete text of the poem appears in Ecstatic Occasions, Expedient Forms edited by David Lehman.

And so for day 829

This entry was posted in Poetry. Bookmark the permalink.