St. Vitus Dance
I jumped and jiggled with vitality
That children know when they are four or five.
Mom glared at me most disapprovingly
At this, the fruit of feeling so alive,
And diagnosed me with “St. Vitus Dance,”
A malady once thought to be a sign
That demons had you in their scaly hands,
Although my symptoms weren’t at all malign.
This man I am looks back with jealousy
Upon the child I was so long ago.
When did that energy just up and go?
He prays at night for past vitality:
That future morning when he springs from bed
And knows he’ll never join the inert dead.
Daniel J. Webster
Footnote: Saint Vitus was the patron saint of dancers, and in the Middle Ages his devotees would dance in his honor in a manic fashion; hence, the modern-day reference to someone who has an excess of energy as having the “Saint Vitus Dance.”
Daniel J. Webster started writing poetry in a serious way while attending Chaffey Community College in Alta Loma in 1975. He has since moved to Japan, where he teaches English at Keio University, as well as at the Universities of Waseda and Meiji. As a New Formalist dedicated to maintaining the traditional standards of meter and rhyme in verse, he has completed several volumes of poetry. In addition, he has translated poetry and short stories from German and Russian.