The Goring

by Sylvia Plath

Arena dust rusted by four bulls' blood to a dull redness, The afternoon at a bad end under the crowd's truculence, The ritual death each time botched among dropped capes, ill-judged stabs, The strongest will seemed a will towards ceremony. Obese, dark- Faced in his rich yellows, tassels, pompons, braid, the picador Rode out against the fifth bull to brace his pike and slowly bear Down deep into the bent bull-neck. Cumbrous routine, not artwork. Instinct for art began with the bull's horn lofting in the mob's Hush a lumped man-shape. The whole act formal, fluent as a dance. Blood faultlessly broached redeemed the sullied air, the earth's grossness.