POEMS: Eros MutatusTo the Red Cross WorkersReflectionsA Prayer at PentecostTo My GrandchildrenA Modern OdysseyEphemeridsBernini’s DavidSocrates’ ExhortationTed Kaczynski: UnabomberTo DanteA Faustian BargainAt the CrossroadA Modern Eden Is the Bible BeltThe Third TemptationPrometheos Revisited


Through Self's Veneer: Poetry by Robert J. Nolan (drawing of two heads in profile facing each other)


Eros Mutatus

A Triptych


Modified so today, the god of Love,
no more a proper noun, an adjective,
“erotic,” wrested down from bliss above

in bright Olympus’ height, to have to live
where phallos and omphalos are the same,
where Psyche’s just a prefix for lucrative

careers, which disavow all personal blame,
and for their pricey wisdom, guaranteed in
patronizing cant, attest the sense of shame

to be a drag on joy, and that our hedon-
istic nature, freed of the fallacy
of suffering, will return us to that Eden,

which we, desperate for immortality,
repudiated for Gethsemane.


Diotima declines a paradigm
more faithful to the syntax of the soul,
in which the ache to live beyond one’s time,

however fancied, plays a central role
in mortals’ lives; and Eros is the mean
between a mortal and his final goal,

where time and the timeless meet: that serene
realm where Eros, step by measured step, leads
the Psyche into regions unforeseen

when starting out, each degree sowing seeds
of fitness for the next; and so to rise
“from mundane charms, to fair forms, to fair deeds,

“to Beauty unadorned,” an enterprise
transporting one to hints of paradise.


There is a Love impossible to parse,
beyond Pure Beauty, with fervor so intense—
the same “which moves the sun and all the stars”—

whose presence contravenes the arguments
that favor Nothingness, endures the strain
between eternity and time, assents

freely to face the void and suffer pain,
because it fixes fully on that light
whose radiance the Rational find insane,

whose witness has the power to indict
the telos of every era’s zeitgeist;
infinite, but wedded to the finite,

only self-fulfilled when Self is sacrificed,
immutable, we call this Eros Christ.

Go to Top


  Through Self’s Veneer


  About Robert J. Nolan



  © Robert J. Nolan, 2010