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This poem is taken from PN Review 51, Volume 13 Number 1, September - October 1986.

Roman Cage-cups Les A. Murray

Excavate, at a constant curving interval
a layer of air between the inner and outer
skins of a glass beaker, leaving only odd struts integral;

at the same time, at the same ablative atom-
by-atom rate, sculpt the outer shell to an openwork
of rings, or foliage, or a muscular Elysium -

It made for calm paste and a steady file
that one false stroke, one twitch could cost a year's
     time,
a good billet, your concubine. Only the cups were held
     noble.

Plebs and immigrants fashioned them, punters
who ate tavern-fried pike and talked Vulgate.
The very first might have been made as a stunt, as

the life-gambit of a slave. Or a joke on the feasting
     scene:
a wine-bowl no one coarsely drunk could handle
...


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