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Image by Jonathan Petersson


The poet feels that beauty unscathed by time comes from suffering. 

We may love their looks, wholly mistaken.

It was really suffering which taught them.

Those who live too fast, as if time threw them,

Chips placed onto velvet, swiftly taken –

Those whose bodies glow, as if death thought them

Beautiful, whom light adores, clings to them –

Those who sleep through fire and awaken

In another world – whatever brought them

Here ensures that age cannot pursue them –

Those who flee all limits run, forsaken,

Straight into the infinite which sought them

Out, from all the crowds who thought they knew them.

Image by Catalin Sandru


The poet muses philosophically about beauty.

Always one sensation when I see

A woman who is beautiful alone.

Always – as if in another place

Part of me were falling endlessly

Through clouds in an amorphous hidden zone.

Always beauty. Always one pure face

Slaps me like a hand. Is it just me

Whom the vision transforms into stone?

Everything around me slows its pace

As if it agreed that she might be

Why being feels. Why feeling has this tone

Of missing something it cannot replace.


Is someone immune? Are some of you

Able to pass by those you desire

Without leaving part of you behind?

Can it be the beautiful is true

And the world is false? Love does require

Passionate response. Were you designed

To contain emotion, always new,

As if you could casually admire

Your own deepest need? My unconfined

Heart observes as if I always knew

This woman. Before the stars caught fire,

When feelings were a jumble, still combined.


Hopeless, what we offer is sincerest.

The glamorous require frequent

Tributes from the people they displace.

If beauty can arrest us with its merest

Hint, its possibility or scent,

Just imagination of a face,

Is love then the farthest or the nearest?

Is the beautiful what distance meant

By assigning everything a place?

Our humiliation becomes clearest

When despair takes joy on its descent.

When rejected, ours is no disgrace.


Some have said that beauty will be how

In the end absurdity makes sense.

The exquisite draws beings to a stand.

What we think we know should not allow

One image to remain, remain intense

When the thing is gone – you understand

Because a sunset happens even now

That was in your youth. Experience

Goes beyond five senses in this land,

This country where all women take a vow

To the infinite – at their expense

Obey its inarticulate command.


What is love if we have not confessed it?

Cowardice, or deeply held respect?

And why does the need for love insist?

The heart hopes for a crisis that would test it,

Never knowing what it may expect.

That is also how we too exist.

Our best art could never have expressed it,

How beauty can harm us, its effect

On the endless longing we resist.

No one lacking beauty has possessed it,

Even when she ceases to object,

Kisses us, and lets herself be kissed.


Music reaches us – before we hear it,

Noise around us vibrates in a throng

Of agitation – nothing seems to guide it.

Then a tone emerges and can clear it-

Self out of the background, so a song

Finds a steady updraft and can ride it.

Beauty does this for us, making Spirit

Suddenly remember it is strong.

Beauty is like Spirit but beside it,

Almost touching, infinitely near it.

Without beauty, every day seems long.


Those who suffer homeless in the cold,

Burning rags and garbage to stay warm –

Who have faces altered by disease

Or whose bodies do not fit the mold

Their culture says is beautiful, whose form

Makes them jokes, the people others tease –

Those whose skin is wrinkled and can fold

On itself, whose spines at last deform

Into a curve, who cough, convulse and wheeze –

Who were once desired, now grown old –

Life torments them until they transform.

Do they shine inside? Yea, even these?


Earlier than everything we sense,

In the shadow world before we are,

Silence taught the nothing how to shout.

We treat beauty with a great pretense

Though the land it rules is very far –

Do even the stars live so far out?

Beauty is unlike our own existence,

Neither ordinary nor bizarre.

Everything we see has come about

Because Spirit has no good defense

Against beauty, which we only mar,

And must usually live without.

Stephen Lef.jpg

Poetry by Stephen Lefebure may be found in his own volume, Rocks Full of Sky, and in Wild Song – Poems of the Natural World and Going Down Grand: Poems from the Canyon, two anthologies of nature poetry. His work may also be found in journals like Twenty Bellows, Weber Review, Bombay Review, and The Bangalore Review. He lives in Evergreen, Colorado, USA. 

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