Against Beauty

by Alfred Nicol

Insubstantial, light, poetical,
Like sea-tossed lace, the clouds float down the air.
And so with grey-green eyes, and wind-swept hair;
Youth is a cosmetic for the skull.

Neither is beauty safe for being brief.
Better imprisoned in a narrow cell
Than in the whorls of beauty’s stippled shell
Which, endlessly becoming, come to grief,

Murmuring still of blue tides coming in.
Beauty draws the diver past the shelf,
A danger unto others and oneself.
Beauty is a burden on the skin.