For authorities whose hopes are shaped by mercenaries? Writers entrapped by teatime fame and by commuters' comforts? Not for these the paper nautilus constructs her thin glass shell. Giving her perishable souvenir of hope, a dull white outside and smooth- edged inner surface glossy as the sea, the watchful maker of it guards it day and night; she scarcely eats until the eggs are hatched. Buried eight-fold in her eight arms, for she is in a sense a devil- fish, her glass ram'shorn-cradled freight is hid but is not crushed; as Hercules, bitten by a crab loyal to the hydra, was hindered to succeed, the intensively watched eggs coming from the shell free it when they are freed,— leaving its wasp-nest flaws of white on white, and close- laid Ionic chiton-folds like the lines in the mane of a Parthenon horse, round which the arms had wound themselves as if they knew love is the only fortress strong enough to trust to.
Marianne Moore - 1887-1972
Feed Me, Also, River God
Lest by diminished vitality and abated vigilance, I become food for crocodiles—for that quicksand of gluttony which is legion. It is there close at hand— on either side of me. You remember the Israelites who said in pride and stoutness of heart: "The bricks are fallen down, we will build with hewn stone, the sycamores are cut down, we will change to cedars"? I am not ambitious to dress stones, to renew forts, nor to match my value in action, against their ability to catch up with arrested prosperity. I am not like them, indefatigable, but if you are a god, you will not discriminate against me. Yet—if you may fulfill none but prayers dressed as gifts in return for your gifts—disregard the request.