The Three Temptations

'What death would you desire? '
She says: 'A bronze death that yields
a cloister for the heart; or that

which is charter for a giant, a silver death;
or that for which one must labor:
one's sacrament, that's a death of gold? '

Alas, how can your pilgrim choose?
Always there's the hissing of fire-
On my neck creeps the salamander!

But here on this steadfast ground
earth whereon the mighty have fallen,
gnomes choir a bronze hymn to you

and yet could I but rear for myself-
a giant's head far from all solitude-
O how the undine's luster shall flood

into my silver sepulcher! For it is fate
out of gorges between sheer cliffs
that gives us wings for pilgrimage

and you who dance like a scented sylph
on the winds have not, have not
the golden character of grace

and should you but pray for me
'a fine and private place' plucked up
for this death, my death, that's golden

to you alone I give my only name-
'Oh, now, what death would you desire? '
She says: 'There is only my embrace.'

by Sonny San Juan, Jr.

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