When the mind melts in the cave of the skull,
forsaken, alas, like everything else,
will some victorious Socrates crawl—
out of the depths, like a most secret self—
beholding all things as they really are?
Then, apostolic, but shunning the smell,
will he crawl back down inside—to pole-star
and enlighten the blind monkeys in hell?
Fettered to our forefathers’ desires
and at odds with the light, no doubt those apes
won’t listen, for madness never tires,
storming through our eyes and roping our napes.
And our magnanimous clear-sighted Greek,
that spark in the dung, our most secret self,
will he weather the worms of the first week,
forsaken, alas, like everything else?
From Leo Yankevich’s Journey Late at Night: Poems and Translations, forthcoming from Counter-Currents