His bulging codpiece, with its gypsum bows
five hundred years hard-knotted (what a pity!)
is soft in twilight, if a trifle gritty,
like the braided muscles in their stony hose. Somewhat by giving, more by dodging, blows
he lived. His adequate sonnets lured the pretty,
practical ladies of each taken city
before time chipped his arrogant Tuscan nose.
Diminished now, in evening’s shadowy farewell,
he hints at nothing of the last disaster. Stone’s firmer stuff than ulcered meat to wear well.
Oh, he was brisk, but the Black Death pricked faster.
Half a millennium now, beneath this stairwell,
he’s stretched a tryst in pitted alabaster.