He started full of strength And he sat like something mattered, Elbowed-knees and gathered knuckles Like the breaker of bad news And he whispered to the Thames As it wandered notwithstanding. Do you know? Could you tell me what is beauty? What is beauty? And he falters And his gaze becomes the only thing About him that is spirit, as the rest begins to fade Lie with numbers, make a ratio Pacify with Fibonacci And the Thames? It had a purpose and was rushing to the sea. “Could you tell me?” now in earnest And with urgent wringing hands And aging face and changing prospects What is beauty in my hands? Tell him Plato has the answer Tell him poetry might falter And I sorrow, rushing water, that we might have helped him see. What is beauty? Now more quiet And he’s washed away in torrents That I couldn’t stem, and wouldn’t stem I wouldn’t even try Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s Give to Beauty what is Beauty In the image, in the likeness. In the truth I live and die. What is beauty? It would comfort If I knew he knew the answer Answer ancient and so new and so late to come to grips And the Thames returned to rolling Faces altered in the water What is beauty? Did I tell him? Did a soul just pass me by?