Beauty to the Beast
by Theodora Goss
When I dare walk in fields, barefoot and tender,
trace thorns with my finger, swallow amber,
crawl into the badger’s chamber, comb
lightning’s loose hair in a crashing storm,
walk in a wolf’s eye, lie
naked on granite, ignore the curse
on the castle door, drive a tooth into the boar’s hide,
ride adders, tangle the horned horse,
when I dare watch the east
with unprotected eyes, then I dare love you, Beast.
This image of Beauty and the Beast is by the Scottish painter and illustrator Anne Anderson. I particularly like it because it shows a beast that is genuinely beastly — not handsomely leonine. And it shows Beauty’s reluctance, in the half-turned body. But the Beast also looks gentle and concerned, as he is in the story by Madame de Beaumont.
I wrote this poem a long,long time ago — when I was in law school. It’s still a favorite of mine. If you would like, you can hear me read it: