First Song by Thom Gunn


Legend, a drop of dew
cupped in the morning leaf
not true and not untrue
legend before belief
shepherd and youngest son
giantkiller and skald
- am I then anyone -
the roles join, interfold
and firm up as a gist
that moving out of mist
slips with an only tread
into the self ahead

I step with light precision
still ruddy like dawn cloud
the shepherd with the sling
to face a crazy king

joined in the palimpsest
of crisscross gratitude,
and God, and circumcision

Tough with the innocence
you call luck, I the Lord

And though the king has hurled
his javelin at me

I have his son's love, whence
I learn the mixed demand
I hardly can afford
of jostling with the world

David, and who will he

Incarnate no, and fickle
as the specific tickle
of frenum, fleshy fence
within Bathsehba's hand.

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