How can a punishment fit a crime?

What’s not ill-suited to a wrong?

The pants will always be too long;

Sisyphus got his overtime,

But how irrelevant! being light

In a heavy, dark and wrenching wind

Didn’t drape well across the kind

Of shape poor dear Francesca’s tight

Little hot games with Paolo took.

Sagging, with their braces frayed,

The overkill, the underplayed

Will always have an ugly look.


John Hollander

John Hollander is the Sterling Professor of English at Yale. His most recent collection of poetry is A Draft of Light (Knopf, 2008).