The dancer crouches to be sprung,
Unseen until the lights disclose
Her arms suspended, body hung,
Held in the opening pose.
The horses come to motion
With a shudder,
When the switch is thrown;
Their eye-paint gleams for a future hour,
For the screams of the riders they leap to devour
To the calliope’s drone.
Then will infinity open and close,
The cows, uncalled, come home,
Buried Caesar step from a rose,
And Venus sink in the foam.
NOTES for Students of English
“The cows, uncalled, come home” – Echoes the saying that something will not happen “until the cows come home” meaning “never.”
“Buried Caesar step from a rose” – An allusion to a stanza from The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam by Edward FitzGerald (1809-1883):
I sometimes think that never blows so red
The Rose as where some buried Caesar bled;
That every Hyacinth the Garden wears
Dropt in its Lap from some once lovely Head.
“And Venus sink in the foam” – Venus, the Roman Goddess of Love and Beauty, was said to have sprung from the foam of the sea. Her Greek name, Aphrodite, was explained as meaning “the foam-risen,” aphros meaning “foam” in Greek.