Victor Hugo tells this story, too.\nIn his account, the man may have his years,\nBut grandeur is a man’s attractive strength.\nFor women gaze at beautiful young boys,Yet with him they lose themselves in thought.\nIt is because the stately, older man\nIs grandly closer to the primal force.\nA young man’s eyes may sparkle charmingly,But in the elder’s look there is enlight-\nenment. The Moabite feels something true\nAnd normal, then—even if, as she\nLies crouching at his feet, she cannot knowExactly what has led her to her strange\nAnd unpredicted destiny with him,\nso wise and just and rich and generous,\nthe sexy man! You laugh. You think that hereIs Victor, preening once again, his beard\nA thing of manly glory in his eyes.\nYet somehow in his poem a golden light\nIlluminates the nighttime firmamentWith more than macho vanity—a truth,\nHis reverie of ancient nights and Ruth.***To read Erika Dreifus’s ‘The Story of Ruth, in Three Poems,’ click here.