Love's Unswerving Gaze

Li-Young Lee

What was told to me in a whisper

I must now repeat

under my breath:

The true lover

lives only

to love the beloved.

What was said to me so softly

I had to lean my ear

closer to her mouth to hear,

I must now lean closer to say:

All bodies, great and small, turn,

changing. But death,

without a body, never turns.

Faithful, death

goes about its business

of subtraction,

and its more mysterious work

of totaling sums, without interruption.

What was given to me in secret,

you too must now keep secret:

True love looks out

through death’s unswerving gaze.

And the true lover lives

only to love the beloved.

Li-Young Lee is the author of several volumes of poetry, including most recently The Invention of the Darling, as well as a new translation of the Dao De Jing (with co-translator Yun Wang).
Originally published:
April 1, 2024


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