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 the author of seven books, including the celebrated Half the House: a Memoir, recently published in a Twentieth-Anniversary Edition (New Rivers Press, 2015), and the memoir Love & Fury (Beacon Press, 2014). In addition to the collection Interference and Other Stories, he has published four volumes of poetry: Without Paradise; Gold Star Road, winner of the Barrow Street Pres Poetry Prize and the Sheila Motton Award from The New England Poetry Club; Emblem; and Noon until Night. His work, both prose and verse, has appeared regularly for the past forty years in such journals as AGNI, Barrow Street, Consequence, Harvard Review, The Hudson Review, The Literary Review, Poetry, Witness, and elsewhere. A former chair of PEN New England, he is senior writer in residence at Emerson College and adjunct assistant professor of creative writing at Columbia University. (updated 10/2018)