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This poem is taken from PN Review 16, Volume 7 Number 2, November - December 1980.

De Sade John Heath-Stubbs

Laura comes forth from the porch of the temple
After High Mass. As about the Portinari
The manifest glory of supernatural Wisdom
So on her rested clarity
Of Provencal sunlight, a trecento springtime
Petrarch endured exquisite, protracted torments of passion,
Distilled to the rhetoric of fourteen lines-
Laura de Sade, the ancestress.

* * * * *

The Marquis is locked up in the Bastille
For his own good, along with a handful
Of other self-destructive incompetents;
Condemned in absentia for attempted murder-
An indiscreet afternoon orgy;
Two whores and his own brutal valet,
Also an injudicious experiment
Involving cantharides. In rage and frustration
...


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