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from the June 2020 issue

In Praise of the Nude Body

Mutsuo Takahashi admires the ancient Greeks’ innocence and lack of shame about their bodies in this short poem.


In Olympia, young men do not wear a single thread
In Pythia, in Isthmia, and in Nemea too
In every gymnasium in every small town
They’re as naked as the day they were born
It’s because they were born this way
They’re honest and upright, not the least bit lewd
Like the Greek summer sky,
Pure and fresh, a model of health itself
What made them so obscene were the girders
Supporting the eyes of those who watched
Girders that came from the deserts to the east
Crossing the seas with warm winds
Sent by a narrow-minded god
Jealous of purity and hating health


"裸身礼讃" from Only Yesterday. © Mutsuo Takahashi. By arrangement with the author. Translation © 2020 by Jeffrey Angles. All rights reserved.

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