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I Held A Shelley Manuscript

My hands did numb to beauty
As they reached into Death and tightened!

O sovereign was my touch
Upon the tan-inks’s fragile page!

Quickly, my eyes moved quickly,
Sought for smell for dust for lace
For dry hair!

I would have taken the page
Breathing in the crime!
For no evidence have I wrung from dreams
Yet what triumph is there in private credence?

Often, in some steep ancestral book,
When I find myself entangled with leopard-apples
And torched-skin mushrooms,
My cypressean skein outreaches the recorded age
And I, as though tipping a pitcher of milk,
Pour secrecy upon the dying page.

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Poem I Held A Shelley Manuscript - Gregory Corso