This is the Death of Antinous by Mark Doty. Why did I read it? Why did I want to focus on it? To Meditate on it? Write about it? What draws me to this poem?
Is it the classical nature, the subject matter?
Images of perfect proportioned marble muscles (or has he writes nipples)
“Accidentally, swimming at dawn” I love this line. It is not exciting, or purple. But swimming at dawn. This is a beautiful image. I love it, I want to swim at dawn. We dont know what it is, the sea or a lake. But I imagine the sea. A haze. A lightbox. As it turns out, its the Nile he drowns in. The image changes and I imagine the dwat. The funary boat of egypt. What god was the oars man, the cybernetic? How do you accidentally swim at dawn, or at any time really?
Something about the rhythm of that line, and about the sounds, the musicality. Maybe the N’s – entally, ing, awn.
“Squalid little crossroads.” This is not really what I think of when I think of crossroads. I think of … old scratch … but are cross roads squalid. Evocative.
“What do we want in a any body
but the world? And if the lover’s”
Ahh – we get it now, its a love poem. Antinous was Hadrian’s lover, I guess. Hadrian has a special place in my heart. The map of the Roman Empire in the front flap of my middle school latin textbook depicted Hadrian’s wall – a very notable landmark in a part of the world that does not speak a romance language. Long before I knew who Hadrian was – I knew about this wall, and that sheep grazed on it now and it was not much of a wall any longer. Boundaries.
Some lines I dont like
“the he would find it everywhere”
Do we need lines like this in our poems? Copulas?
Shakespeare does not.
“Embodied him.” This I also dont like. Too abstract. Too passive.
“Turn of his shoulders”… I prefer marble nipples.
“merely takes in anything
without judgement or expectation”
is this love too – is the nile love? the poet’s reflection on his own love?
“chiseled liquid waist”
I hold because I cannot hold
(paradoxes and all the meanings of hold)
and a great last line – limerence
“that desire can make anything into a God.”