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Sonnet 8 from A Sonnet Sequence by Edwin Denby

From 1976 until 1983, Jacob Burckhardt recorded and edited Edwin Denby reading from his Collected Poems. Here is Sonnet 8 from A Sonnet Sequence.


Three old sheepherders so filthy in their ways
Whores wouldn’t touch them with a ten foot pole
Saw once the Christmas star which in a blaze
Pierced like delight into the secret soul.

They later also stood with their same faces
Around a baby male and there were shown
The heart caressing with millennial graces
A beauty which in love is all its own.

These three were the first according to the story
But unbaptized they never will reach heaven
In an eternal hell tortured and gory
They can recall the joy that they were given,

This savage torture by the law of love
Of Christmas shepherds I like thinking of.


Photo of Edwin Denby by Rudy Burckhardt

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