He Had Served Eighty Masters. They'D Have Said

He had served eighty masters. They'd have said
He 'worked for these employers' to earn bread.
And they, if they had heard him, would have sneered
To brand him inefficient whom they feared.
For to know eighty masters is to know
What sort of thing men who are masters grow.

by Lesbia Harford

Comments (5)

Wow Perfect
I perceive in this the vulnerability and nakedness of life that marriage brings to two previously clothed people. Clothed with the personas we manifest to the outside world, clothed with the masks that hide our own insecurities. Masks and filters which the intimacy of living life in the company of another makes impossible to maintain. I see the rocks as images of the toils of life, the personal difficulties that we must each bear, according to our individual stars, even in the context of marriage. The final stanza is mysterious to me, but if the game is rarely played, then in most cases the players stop before dawn or bat an eyelid or fall. Perhaps a wider context than the sexual intimacy connotation which most easily presents itself, perhaps touching upon the broader aspects of the requirements of companionship. Intriguing as a whole. Like trying to find the eye holes in someone else's mask.
Till dawn! ! Thanks for sharing this poem with us.
Could not understand where it was taking me.
How to approach this poem? Certainly not head on, not face-to-face, naked and vulnerable. Maybe armed, more for self-defense than to do harm. Obliquely. In silence or with the blood-curdling yell of a warrior? I don't think it would matter. Popa has turned the idea of a celebratory union of two googly-eyed young lovers into some surreal contest of wills. Or at least a test of will for one. A treacherous game where likely there never is a winner. What is this vision? His vision? It starts with creating vulnerability and ends with a parenthetical of defeat (or at least negation) of what's been described. The second stanza turns inward, but weights the inward turn with might be the work of a prison inmate sentenced to hard labor. The poem speaks of a futile intensity, a Sisyphean labor. I like how clean and hard the poem is. Sculptural and muscular. Impenetrable as a marble statue. An object to circle around and contemplate. Maybe a little like life. Opaque. Requiring an expenditure of effort for very uncertain results. Still, I cannot decide who the bride might be in this poem? Himself? Life? Or the other as lover? Who could be a match for this intensity?