He was believed by his peers to be an important poet,
But his erotic obsession, condemned and strictly forbidden,
Compromised his standing, and led to his ruin.
Over sixty, and a father many times over,
The objects of his attention grew younger and younger:
He tried to corrupt the sons of his dearest friends;
He pressed on them drinks and drugs,
And of course he was caught and publicly shamed.
Was his death a suicide? No one is sure.
But that’s not the whole story; it’s too sordid to tell.
Besides, the memory of his poems deserves better.
Though we were unable to look at them for a time
His poems survive his death.
There he appears as his finest self:
Attractive, scholarly, dedicated to love.
At last we can read him again, putting aside
The brute facts of his outer life,
And rejoice at the inner voice, so lofty and pure.