William Doreski

Blake's Allegories

Blake found the world a battleground
between flesh and spirit, and thought
the fact of intestines degraded
Michelangelo’s stark figures.
Engraving such muscular forms,

believing only the spirit real,
Blake must have relished the conflict
such allegory implies. I too,
at least today, prefer spirit
for its vast, sky-shaped indifference

to afflictions. At my window
the wooded landscape looks stricken
by the thought of snow. Miles and miles
of storm are creeping up the coast
like a huge, disgusting white worm.

Blake in the south of England
never worried that excessive
snowfall might muddle his focus
on spirit figures tumbling naked
through his mind. The drunken soldier

he manhandled out of his garden,
the one who accused him of treason,
may have challenged his faith but
failed to prove his point. Only
the sternest meteorologist

would deny that the writhing light
in the moments before a storm strikes
suggests figures even greater
than Blake’s, wrestling each other
for pleasure, supremacy, fate.

William Doreski's work has most recently appeared in Notre Dame Review, Harvard Review, Atlanta Review, Barrow Street, and Birmingham Poetry Review. He has published a critical study entitled Robert Lowell’s Shifting Colors (Ohio University Press, 1999) and a collection of poetry, Suburban Light (Cedar Hill, 1999). He is currently teaching literature and creative writing at Keene State College in New Hampshire.