“The Parnassians” — James Merrill

Theirs was a language within ours, a loge
Hidden by bee-stitched hangings from the herd.
The mere exchanged glance between word and word
Took easily the place, the privilege
Of utterance. Here therefore all was tact.
Pairs at first blush ill-matched, like turd and monstrance,
Tracing their cousinage through consonants,
Communed, ecstatic, through the long entr’acte.

Without our common meanings, though, that world
Would have slid headlong to apocalypse.
We’d built the Opera, changed the scenery, trod
Grapes for the bubbling flutters mild fingers twirled;
As footmen, by no eyelid’s twitch betrayed
Our scorn and sound investment of their tips.

— James Merrill

      Everybody Knows — Leonard Cohen