Emblem 107: On Love
adapted from Andrea Alciati’s Book of Emblems
Love, a naked youth, smiles gently, approaching.
What has he got there? In one hand flowers,
in the other a fish. Shall we read the meaning
to be that he rules both land and sea? That works.
But for flowers one must wait for their season,
and to catch a fish means patient waiting, too,
as day declines to evening and you doubt your luck
and wonder at the river’s mysteries, hoping
down below the worm still wriggles on your hook.
Andrea Alciati’s Emblematum liber or Book of Emblems, a collection of 212 Latin emblem poems, was first published in 1531 and was expanded in various editions during the author’s lifetime.
Richard Hoffman is author of the Half the House: a Memoir, the poetry collections Without Paradise and Gold Star Road, winner of the 2006 Barrow Street Press Poetry Prize, and Interference & Other Stories, forthcoming in fall 2009. His work, both verse and prose, has appeared in AGNI, Ascent, Harvard Review, The Hudson Review, The Literary Review, Poetry, Witness, and other magazines. He teaches at Emerson College and in the Stonecoast MFA Program at the University of Southern Maine. (7/2009)