Waiting table after table;

Changing endless bedpans, diapers

Over the course of countless years;

Doing more than you were able;

Dodging doubts that lurked like snipers;

Carving niches round complaints;

Facing down your frowning fears—

Was this not the work of saints?


A human book could never hold

All you nameless ones have done.

Yours, the stories seldom told

That still transpire beneath the sun.





                             Do not all charms fly

   At the mere touch of cold philosophy?


                          –John Keats, “Lamia”


When Lamia underwent that painful change

To be a girl and win a mortal’s heart,

The former serpent knew that she was strange

And sensed the two of them should live apart


From the common round. But humans crave their kind—

However crass and coarse their company—

And so gregarious Lycius came to find

His bride’s boudoir a stuffy place to be.


The poor fool’s tutor felt the need to warn

His charge away from fetid fantasy,

Strove to steer his pupil to the norm,

Facts and thoughts his sole reality.


Lamia shuddered when she saw him frown:

A sage like him could only be suspect.

And she perished when he stared her down:

Beauty dreads relentless intellect.


We have our rigorous prigs who rage at beauty,

Cannot tolerate a simple song,

And ever see it as their sacred duty

To pounce on every mole they deem placed wrong.


Such testy fellows fear the feminine

And think their hard exteriors make them men.


About the Poet:

William Ruleman devotes his time to writing, painting, translating, and—when possible—travel. His newest collections of poetry include Black Forest Poems and A Strange and Sweet Unrest, while his latest collection of translations is Songs for the Seasons: Poems of Rilke and His Age. More about him can be found at