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Perseus

 Her sleeping head with its great gelid mass
of serpents torpidly astir
burned into the mirroring shield--
a scathing image dire
as hated truth the mind accepts at last
and festers on.
I struck.
The shield flashed bare.
Yet even as I lifted up the head and started from that place of gazing silences and terrored stone, I thirsted to destroy.
None could have passed me then-- no garland-bearing girl, no priest or staring boy--and lived.

Poem by Robert Hayden
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