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Homage to Vaslav Nijinsky


You are that legendary figure, never seen,

but always glimpsed beyond the dim

dream’s transparent backcloth;  or in green,

dark groves, the wings of time’s topless auditorium,

there where at evening the misted lake is laid away

like a remembered silence in the angry day

you wander, a young and lonely prince,

far from the huntsmen in the magic wood,

and drawn by sinister enchantments, visions

of a swan that glides and calls across the haunted glade.


You are the rose breathing its own and universal essence,

the shadow leaping from the body it has understood

into music’s air, the pure design of its deliverance

and pattern of the mind’s bare, ordered solitude.

You are both fool and harlequin, the gay and melancholy

dancer at funerals of innocence and love’s wise folly.

You are the loveless, lost, the lonely and the dumb,

the vanquished who alone rehearse what triumphs mean,

the spectre whose reality is our belief;  the faun for whom

no curtain falls upon the mystery that he has always known.


Kirkup, James

Dance Poetry
A comprehensive anthology
Edited by Alkis Raftis
Copyright 2012