Part 2 out of 3
With speckled cargo in his hollow keel
Caught off Campeche or the Isle of Pines,
Dips in his paddle, lifts it forth again,
And laughs to see the luminous white drops
Fall back in flakes of fire. . . . Gold was the dream
That cheered that desperate enterprise. And now? . . .
Victory waited on the arms of Spain,
Fallen was the lovely city by the lake,
The sunny Venice of the western world;
There many corpses, rotting in the wind,
Poked up stiff limbs, but in the leprous rags
No jewel caught the sun, no tawny chain
Gleamed, as the prying halberds raked them o'er.
Pillage that ran red-handed through the streets
Came railing home at evening empty-palmed;
And they, on that sad night a twelvemonth gone,
Who, ounce by ounce, dear as their own life's blood
Retreating, cast the cumbrous load away:
They, when brown foemen lopped the bridges down,
Who tipped thonged chests into the stream below
And over wealth that might have ransomed kings
Passed on to safety; -- cheated, guerdonless --
Found (through their fingers the bright booty slipped)
A city naked, of that golden dream
Shorn in one moment like a sunset sky.
Deep in a chamber that no cheerful ray
Purged of damp air, where in unbroken night
Black scorpions nested in the sooty beams,
Helpless and manacled they led him down --
Cuauhtemotzin -- and other lords beside --
All chieftains of the people, heroes all --
And stripped their feathered robes and bound them there
On short stone settles sloping to the head,
But where the feet projected, underneath
Heaped the red coals. Their swarthy fronts illumed,
The bearded Spaniards, helmed and haubergeoned,
Paced up and down beneath the lurid vault.
Some kneeling fanned the glowing braziers; some
Stood at the sufferers' heads and all the while
Hissed in their ears: "The gold . . . the gold . . . the gold.
Where have ye hidden it -- the chested gold?
Speak -- and the torments cease!"
They answered not.
Past those proud lips whose key their sovereign claimed
No accent fell to chide or to betray,
Only it chanced that bound beside the king
Lay one whom Nature, more than other men
Framing for delicate and perfumed ease,
Not yet, along the happy ways of Youth,
Had weaned from gentle usages so far
To teach that fortitude that warriors feel
And glory in the proof. He answered not,
But writhing with intolerable pain,
Convulsed in every limb, and all his face
Wrought to distortion with the agony,
Turned on his lord a look of wild appeal,
The secret half atremble on his lips,
Livid and quivering, that waited yet
For leave -- for leave to utter it -- one sign --
One word -- one little word -- to ease his pain.
As one reclining in the banquet hall,
Propped on an elbow, garlanded with flowers,
Saw lust and greed and boisterous revelry
Surge round him on the tides of wine, but he,
Staunch in the ethic of an antique school --
Stoic or Cynic or of Pyrrho's mind --
With steady eyes surveyed the unbridled scene,
Himself impassive, silent, self-contained:
So sat the Indian prince, with brow unblanched,
Amid the tortured and the torturers.
He who had seen his hopes made desolate,
His realm despoiled, his early crown deprived him,
And watched while Pestilence and Famine piled
His stricken people in their reeking doors,
Whence glassy eyes looked out and lean brown arms
Stretched up to greet him in one last farewell
As back and forth he paced along the streets
With words of hopeless comfort -- what was this
That one should weaken now? He weakened not.
Whate'er was in his heart, he neither dealt
In pity nor in scorn, but, turning round,
Met that racked visage with his own unmoved,
Bent on the sufferer his mild calm eyes,
And while the pangs smote sharper, in a voice,
As who would speak not all in gentleness
Nor all disdain, said: "Yes! And am -I- then
Upon a bed of roses?"
Stung with shame --
Shame bitterer than his anguish -- to betray
Such cowardice before the man he loved,
And merit such rebuke, the boy grew calm;
And stilled his struggling limbs and moaning cries,
And shook away his tears, and strove to smile,
And turned his face against the wall -- and died.
There was a boy -- not above childish fears --
With steps that faltered now and straining ears,
Timid, irresolute, yet dauntless still,
Who one bright dawn, when each remotest hill
Stood sharp and clear in Heaven's unclouded blue
And all Earth shimmered with fresh-beaded dew,
Risen in the first beams of the gladdening sun,
Walked up into the mountains. One by one
Each towering trunk beneath his sturdy stride
Fell back, and ever wider and more wide
The boundless prospect opened. Long he strayed,
From dawn till the last trace of slanting shade
Had vanished from the canyons, and, dismayed
At that far length to which his path had led,
He paused -- at such a height where overhead
The clouds hung close, the air came thin and chill,
And all was hushed and calm and very still,
Save, from abysmal gorges, where the sound
Of tumbling waters rose, and all around
The pines, by those keen upper currents blown,
Muttered in multitudinous monotone.
Here, with the wind in lovely locks laid bare,
With arms oft raised in dedicative prayer,
Lost in mute rapture and adoring wonder,
He stood, till the far noise of noontide thunder,
Rolled down upon the muffled harmonies
Of wind and waterfall and whispering trees,
Made loneliness more lone. Some Panic fear
Would seize him then, as they who seemed to hear
In Tracian valleys or Thessalian woods
The god's hallooing wake the leafy solitudes;
I think it was the same: some piercing sense
Of Deity's pervasive immanence,
The Life that visible Nature doth indwell
Grown great and near and all but palpable . . .
He might not linger, but with winged strides
Like one pursued, fled down the mountain-sides --
Down the long ridge that edged the steep ravine,
By glade and flowery lawn and upland green,
And never paused nor felt assured again
But where the grassy foothills opened. Then,
While shadows lengthened on the plain below
And the sun vanished and the sunset-glow
Looked back upon the world with fervid eye
Through the barred windows of the western sky,
Homeward he fared, while many a look behind
Showed the receding ranges dim-outlined,
Highland and hollow where his path had lain,
Veiled in deep purple of the mountain rain.
To see the clouds his spirit yearned toward so
Over new mountains piled and unploughed waves,
Back of old-storied spires and architraves
To watch Arcturus rise or Fomalhaut,
And roused by street-cries in strange tongues when day
Flooded with gold some domed metropolis,
Between new towers to waken and new bliss
Spread on his pillow in a wondrous way:
These were his joys. Oft under bulging crates,
Coming to market with his morning load,
The peasant found him early on his road
To greet the sunrise at the city-gates, --
There where the meadows waken in its rays,
Golden with mist, and the great roads commence,
And backward, where the chimney-tops are dense,
Cathedral-arches glimmer through the haze.
White dunes that breaking show a strip of sea,
A plowman and his team against the blue,
Swiss pastures musical with cowbells, too,
And poplar-lined canals in Picardie,
And coast-towns where the vultures back and forth
Sail in the clear depths of the tropic sky,
And swallows in the sunset where they fly
Over gray Gothic cities in the north,
And the wine-cellar and the chorus there,
The dance-hall and a face among the crowd, --
Were all delights that made him sing aloud
For joy to sojourn in a world so fair.
Back of his footsteps as he journeyed fell
Range after range; ahead blue hills emerged.
Before him tireless to applaud it surged
The sweet interminable spectacle.
And like the west behind a sundown sea
Shone the past joys his memory retraced,
And bright as the blue east he always faced
Beckoned the loves and joys that were to be.
From every branch a blossom for his brow
He gathered, singing down Life's flower-lined road,
And youth impelled his spirit as he strode
Like winged Victory on the galley's prow.
That Loveliness whose being sun and star,
Green Earth and dawn and amber evening robe,
That lamp whereof the opalescent globe
The season's emulative splendors are,
That veiled divinity whose beams transpire
From every pore of universal space,
As the fair soul illumes the lovely face --
That was his guest, his passion, his desire.
His heart the love of Beauty held as hides
One gem most pure a casket of pure gold.
It was too rich a lesser thing to hold;
It was not large enough for aught besides.
The Need to Love
The need to love that all the stars obey
Entered my heart and banished all beside.
Bare were the gardens where I used to stray;
Faded the flowers that one time satisfied.
Before the beauty of the west on fire,
The moonlit hills from cloister-casements viewed,
Cloud-like arose the image of desire,
And cast out peace and maddened solitude.
I sought the City and the hopes it held:
With smoke and brooding vapors intercurled,
As the thick roofs and walls close-paralleled
Shut out the fair horizons of the world --
A truant from the fields and rustic joy,
In my changed thought that image even so
Shut out the gods I worshipped as a boy
And all the pure delights I used to know.
Often the veil has trembled at some tide
Of lovely reminiscence and revealed
How much of beauty Nature holds beside
Sweet lips that sacrifice and arms that yield:
Clouds, window-framed, beyond the huddled eaves
When summer cumulates their golden chains,
Or from the parks the smell of burning leaves,
Fragrant of childhood in the country lanes,
An organ-grinder's melancholy tune
In rainy streets, or from an attic sill
The blue skies of a windy afternoon
Where our kites climbed once from some grassy hill:
And my soul once more would be wrapped entire
In the pure peace and blessing of those years
Before the fierce infection of Desire
Had ravaged all the flesh. Through starting tears
Shone that lost Paradise; but, if it did,
Again ere long the prison-shades would fall
That Youth condemns itself to walk amid,
So narrow, but so beautiful withal.
And I have followed Fame with less devotion,
And kept no real ambition but to see
Rise from the foam of Nature's sunlit ocean
My dream of palpable divinity;
And aught the world contends for to mine eye
Seemed not so real a meaning of success
As only once to clasp before I die
My vision of embodied happiness.
Over the radiant ridges borne out on the offshore wind,
I have sailed as a butterfly sails whose priming wings unfurled
Leave the familiar gardens and visited fields behind
To follow a cloud in the east rose-flushed on the rim of the world.
I have strayed from the trodden highway for walking with upturned eyes
On the way of the wind in the treetops, and the drift of the tinted rack.
For the will to be losing no wonder of sunny or starlit skies
I have chosen the sod for my pillow and a threadbare coat for my back.
Evening of ample horizons, opaline, delicate, pure,
Shadow of clouds on green valleys, trailed over meadows and trees,
Cities of ardent adventure where the harvests of Joy mature,
Forests whose murmuring voices are amorous prophecies,
World of romance and profusion, still round my journey spread
The glamours, the glints, the enthralments, the nurture of one whose feet
From hours unblessed by beauty nor lighted by love have fled
As the shade of the tomb on his pathway and the scent of the winding-sheet.
I never could rest from roving nor put from my heart this need
To be seeing how lovably Nature in flower and face hath wrought, --
In flower and meadow and mountain and heaven where the white clouds breed
And the cunning of silken meshes where the heart's desire lies caught.
Over the azure expanses, on the offshore breezes borne,
I have sailed as a butterfly sails, nor recked where the impulse led,
Sufficed with the sunshine and freedom, the warmth and the summer morn,
The infinite glory surrounding, the infinite blue ahead.
Oft when sweet music undulated round,
Like the full moon out of a perfumed sea
Thine image from the waves of blissful sound
Rose and thy sudden light illumined me.
And in the country, leaf and flower and air
Would alter and the eternal shape emerge;
Because they spoke of thee the fields seemed fair,
And Joy to wait at the horizon's verge.
The little cloud-gaps in the east that filled
Gray afternoons with bits of tenderest blue
Were windows in a palace pearly-silled
That thy voluptuous traits came glimmering through.
And in the city, dominant desire
For which men toil within its prison-bars,
I watched thy white feet moving in the mire
And thy white forehead hid among the stars.
Mystical, feminine, provoking, nude,
Radiant there with rosy arms outspread,
Sum of fulfillment, sovereign attitude,
Sensual with laughing lips and thrown-back head,
Draped in the rainbow on the summer hills,
Hidden in sea-mist down the hot coast-line,
Couched on the clouds that fiery sunset fills,
Blessed, remote, impersonal, divine;
The gold all color and grace are folded o'er,
The warmth all beauty and tenderness embower, --
Thou quiverest at Nature's perfumed core,
The pistil of a myriad-petalled flower.
Round thee revolves, illimitably wide,
The world's desire, as stars around their pole.
Round thee all earthly loveliness beside
Is but the radiate, infinite aureole.
Thou art the poem on the cosmic page --
In rubric written on its golden ground --
That Nature paints her flowers and foliage
And rich-illumined commentary round.
Thou art the rose that the world's smiles and tears
Hover about like butterflies and bees.
Thou art the theme the music of the spheres
Echoes in endless, variant harmonies.
Thou art the idol in the altar-niche
Faced by Love's congregated worshippers,
Thou art the holy sacrament round which
The vast cathedral is the universe.
Thou art the secret in the crystal where,
For the last light upon the mystery Man,
In his lone tower and ultimate despair,
Searched the gray-bearded Zoroastrian.
And soft and warm as in the magic sphere,
Deep-orbed as in its erubescent fire,
So in my heart thine image would appear,
Curled round with the red flames of my desire.
All That's Not Love . . .
All that's not love is the dearth of my days,
The leaves of the volume with rubric unwrit,
The temple in times without prayer, without praise,
The altar unset and the candle unlit.
Let me survive not the lovable sway
Of early desire, nor see when it goes
The courts of Life's abbey in ivied decay,
Whence sometime sweet anthems and incense arose.
The delicate hues of its sevenfold rings
The rainbow outlives not; their yellow and blue
The butterfly sees not dissolve from his wings,
But even with their beauty life fades from them too.
No more would I linger past Love's ardent bounds
Nor live for aught else but the joy that it craves,
That, burden and essence of all that surrounds,
Is the song in the wind and the smile on the waves.
First, London, for its myriads; for its height,
Manhattan heaped in towering stalagmite;
But Paris for the smoothness of the paths
That lead the heart unto the heart's delight. . . .
Fair loiterer on the threshold of those days
When there's no lovelier prize the world displays
Than, having beauty and your twenty years,
You have the means to conquer and the ways,
And coming where the crossroads separate
And down each vista glories and wonders wait,
Crowning each path with pinnacles so fair
You know not which to choose, and hesitate --
Oh, go to Paris. . . . In the midday gloom
Of some old quarter take a little room
That looks off over Paris and its towers
From Saint Gervais round to the Emperor's Tomb, --
So high that you can hear a mating dove
Croon down the chimney from the roof above,
See Notre Dame and know how sweet it is
To wake between Our Lady and our love.
And have a little balcony to bring
Fair plants to fill with verdure and blossoming,
That sparrows seek, to feed from pretty hands,
And swallows circle over in the Spring.
There of an evening you shall sit at ease
In the sweet month of flowering chestnut-trees,
There with your little darling in your arms,
Your pretty dark-eyed Manon or Louise.
And looking out over the domes and towers
That chime the fleeting quarters and the hours,
While the bright clouds banked eastward back of them
Blush in the sunset, pink as hawthorn flowers,
You cannot fail to think, as I have done,
Some of life's ends attained, so you be one
Who measures life's attainment by the hours
That Joy has rescued from oblivion.
Come out into the evening streets. The green light lessens in the west.
The city laughs and liveliest her fervid pulse of pleasure beats.
The belfry on Saint Severin strikes eight across the smoking eaves:
Come out under the lights and leaves
to the Reine Blanche on Saint Germain. . . .
Now crowded diners fill the floor of brasserie and restaurant.
Shrill voices cry "L'Intransigeant," and corners echo "Paris-Sport."
Where rows of tables from the street are screened with shoots of box and bay,
The ragged minstrels sing and play and gather sous from those that eat.
And old men stand with menu-cards, inviting passers-by to dine
On the bright terraces that line the Latin Quarter boulevards. . . .
But, having drunk and eaten well, 'tis pleasant then to stroll along
And mingle with the merry throng that promenades on Saint Michel.
Here saunter types of every sort. The shoddy jostle with the chic:
Turk and Roumanian and Greek; student and officer and sport;
Slavs with their peasant, Christ-like heads,
and courtezans like powdered moths,
And peddlers from Algiers, with cloths
bright-hued and stitched with golden threads;
And painters with big, serious eyes go rapt in dreams, fantastic shapes
In corduroys and Spanish capes and locks uncut and flowing ties;
And lovers wander two by two, oblivious among the press,
And making one of them no less, all lovers shall be dear to you:
All laughing lips you move among, all happy hearts that, knowing what
Makes life worth while, have wasted not the sweet reprieve of being young.
"Comment ca va!" "Mon vieux!" "Mon cher!"
Friends greet and banter as they pass.
'Tis sweet to see among the mass comrades and lovers everywhere,
A law that's sane, a Love that's free, and men of every birth and blood
Allied in one great brotherhood of Art and Joy and Poverty. . . .
The open cafe-windows frame loungers at their liqueurs and beer,
And walking past them one can hear fragments of Tosca and Boheme.
And in the brilliant-lighted door of cinemas the barker calls,
And lurid posters paint the walls with scenes of Love and crime and war.
But follow past the flaming lights, borne onward with the stream of feet,
Where Bullier's further up the street is marvellous on Thursday nights.
Here all Bohemia flocks apace; you could not often find elsewhere
So many happy heads and fair assembled in one time and place.
Under the glare and noise and heat the galaxy of dancing whirls,
Smokers, with covered heads, and girls dressed in the costume of the street.
From tables packed around the wall the crowds that drink and frolic there
Spin serpentines into the air far out over the reeking hall,
That, settling where the coils unroll, tangle with pink and green and blue
The crowds that rag to "Hitchy-koo" and boston to the "Barcarole". . . .
Here Mimi ventures, at fifteen, to make her debut in romance,
And join her sisters in the dance and see the life that they have seen.
Her hair, a tight hat just allows to brush beneath the narrow brim,
Docked, in the model's present whim, `frise' and banged above the brows.
Uncorseted, her clinging dress with every step and turn betrays,
In pretty and provoking ways her adolescent loveliness,
As guiding Gaby or Lucile she dances, emulating them
In each disturbing stratagem and each lascivious appeal.
Each turn a challenge, every pose an invitation to compete,
Along the maze of whirling feet the grave-eyed little wanton goes,
And, flaunting all the hue that lies in childish cheeks and nubile waist,
She passes, charmingly unchaste, illumining ignoble eyes. . . .
But now the blood from every heart leaps madder through abounding veins
As first the fascinating strains of "El Irresistible" start.
Caught in the spell of pulsing sound, impatient elbows lift and yield
The scented softnesses they shield to arms that catch and close them round,
Surrender, swift to be possessed, the silken supple forms beneath
To all the bliss the measures breathe and all the madness they suggest.
Crowds congregate and make a ring. Four deep they stand and strain to see
The tango in its ecstasy of glowing lives that clasp and cling.
Lithe limbs relaxed, exalted eyes fastened on vacancy, they seem
To float upon the perfumed stream of some voluptuous Paradise,
Or, rapt in some Arabian Night, to rock there, cradled and subdued,
In a luxurious lassitude of rhythm and sensual delight.
And only when the measures cease and terminate the flowing dance
They waken from their magic trance and join the cries that clamor "Bis!" . . .
Midnight adjourns the festival. The couples climb the crowded stair,
And out into the warm night air go singing fragments of the ball.
Close-folded in desire they pass, or stop to drink and talk awhile
In the cafes along the mile from Bullier's back to Montparnasse:
The "Closerie" or "La Rotonde", where smoking, under lamplit trees,
Sit Art's enamored devotees, chatting across their `brune' and `blonde'. . . .
Make one of them and come to know sweet Paris -- not as many do,
Seeing but the folly of the few, the froth, the tinsel, and the show --
But taking some white proffered hand that from Earth's barren every day
Can lead you by the shortest way into Love's florid fairyland.
And that divine enchanted life that lurks under Life's common guise --
That city of romance that lies within the City's toil and strife --
Shall, knocking, open to your hands, for Love is all its golden key,
And one's name murmured tenderly the only magic it demands.
And when all else is gray and void in the vast gulf of memory,
Green islands of delight shall be all blessed moments so enjoyed:
When vaulted with the city skies, on its cathedral floors you stood,
And, priest of a bright brotherhood, performed the mystic sacrifice,
At Love's high altar fit to stand, with fire and incense aureoled,
The celebrant in cloth of gold with Spring and Youth on either hand.
Have ye gazed on its grandeur
Or stood where it stands
With opal and amber
Adorning the lands,
And orcharded domes
Of the hue of all flowers?
Sweet melody roams
Through its blossoming bowers,
Sweet bells usher in from its belfries the train of the honey-sweet hour.
A city resplendent,
Fulfilled of good things,
On its ramparts are pendent
The bucklers of kings.
Broad banners unfurled
Are afloat in its air.
The lords of the world
Look for harborage there.
None finds save he comes as a bridegroom, having roses and vine in his hair.
'Tis the city of Lovers,
There many paths meet.
Blessed he above others,
With faltering feet,
Who past its proud spires
Intends not nor hears
The noise of its lyres
Grow faint in his ears!
Men reach it through portals of triumph, but leave through a postern of tears.
It was thither, ambitious,
We came for Youth's right,
When our lips yearned for kisses
As moths for the light,
When our souls cried for Love
As for life-giving rain
Wan leaves of the grove,
Withered grass of the plain,
And our flesh ached for Love-flesh beside it with bitter, intolerable pain.
Under arbor and trellis,
Full of flutes, full of flowers,
What mad fortunes befell us,
What glad orgies were ours!
In the days of our youth,
In our festal attire,
When the sweet flesh was smooth,
When the swift blood was fire,
And all Earth paid in orange and purple to pavilion the bed of Desire!
The Sultan's Palace
My spirit only lived to look on Beauty's face,
As only when they clasp the arms seem served aright;
As in their flesh inheres the impulse to embrace,
To gaze on Loveliness was my soul's appetite.
I have roamed far in search; white road and plunging bow
Were keys in the blue doors where my desire was set;
Obedient to their lure, my lips and laughing brow
The hill-showers and the spray of many seas have wet.
Hot are enamored hands, the fragrant zone unbound,
To leave no dear delight unfelt, unfondled o'er,
The will possessed my heart to girdle Earth around
With their insatiate need to wonder and adore.
The flowers in the fields, the surf upon the sands,
The sunset and the clouds it turned to blood and wine,
Were shreds of the thin veil behind whose beaded strands
A radiant visage rose, serene, august, divine.
A noise of summer wind astir in starlit trees,
A song where sensual love's delirium rose and fell,
Were rites that moved my soul more than the devotee's
When from the blazing choir rings out the altar bell.
I woke amid the pomp of a proud palace; writ
In tinted arabesque on walls that gems o'erlay,
The names of caliphs were who once held court in it,
Their baths and bowers were mine to dwell in for a day.
Their robes and rings were mine to draw from shimmering trays --
Brocades and broidered silks, topaz and tourmaline --
Their turban-cloths to wind in proud capricious ways,
And fasten plumes and pearls and pendent sapphires in.
I rose; far music drew my steps in fond pursuit
Down tessellated floors and towering peristyles:
Through groves of colonnades fair lamps were blushing fruit,
On seas of green mosaic soft rugs were flowery isles.
And there were verdurous courts that scalloped arches wreathed,
Where fountains plashed in bowls of lapis lazuli.
Through enigmatic doors voluptuous accents breathed,
And having Youth I had their Open Sesame.
I paused where shadowy walls were hung with cloths of gold,
And tinted twilight streamed through storied panes above.
In lamplit alcoves deep as flowers when they unfold
Soft cushions called to rest and fragrant fumes to love.
I hungered; at my hand delicious dainties teemed --
Fair pyramids of fruit; pastry in sugared piles.
I thirsted; in cool cups inviting vintage beamed --
Sweet syrups from the South; brown muscat from the isles.
I yearned for passionate Love; faint gauzes fell away.
Pillowed in rosy light I found my heart's desire.
Over the silks and down her florid beauty lay,
As over orient clouds the sunset's coral fire.
Joys that had smiled afar, a visionary form,
Behind the ranges hid, remote and rainbow-dyed,
Drew near unto my heart, a wonder soft and warm,
To touch, to stroke, to clasp, to sleep and wake beside.
Joy, that where summer seas and hot horizons shone
Had been the outspread arms I gave my youth to seek,
Drew near; awhile its pulse strove sweetly with my own,
Awhile I felt its breath astir upon my cheek.
I was so happy there; so fleeting was my stay, --
What wonder if, assailed with vistas so divine,
I only lived to search and sample them the day
When between dawn and dusk the sultan's courts were mine!
Speak not of other worlds of happiness to be,
As though in any fond imaginary sphere
Lay more to tempt man's soul to immortality
Than ripens for his bliss abundant now and here!
Flowerlike I hope to die as flowerlike was my birth.
Rooted in Nature's just benignant law like them,
I want no better joys than those that from green Earth
My spirit's blossom drew through the sweet body's stem.
I see no dread in death, no horror to abhor.
I never thought it else than but to cease to dwell
Spectator, and resolve most naturally once more
Into the dearly loved eternal spectacle.
Unto the fields and flowers this flesh I found so fair
I yield; do you, dear friend, over your rose-crowned wine,
Murmur my name some day as though my lips were there,
And frame your mouth as though its blushing kiss were mine.
Yea, where the banquet-hall is brilliant with young men,
You whose bright youth it might have thrilled my breast to know,
Drink . . . and perhaps my lips, insatiate even then
Of lips to hang upon, may find their loved ones so.
Unto the flush of dawn and evening I commend
This immaterial self and flamelike part of me, --
Unto the azure haze that hangs at the world's end,
The sunshine on the hills, the starlight on the sea, --
Unto angelic Earth, whereof the lives of those
Who love and dream great dreams and deeply feel may be
The elemental cells and nervules that compose
Its divine consciousness and joy and harmony.
In that fair capital where Pleasure, crowned
Amidst her myriad courtiers, riots and rules,
I too have been a suitor. Radiant eyes
Were my life's warmth and sunshine, outspread arms
My gilded deep horizons. I rejoiced
In yielding to all amorous influence
And multiple impulsion of the flesh,
To feel within my being surge and sway
The force that all the stars acknowledge too.
Amid the nebulous humanity
Where I an atom crawled and cleaved and sundered,
I saw a million motions, but one law;
And from the city's splendor to my eyes
The vapors passed and there was nought but Love,
A ferment turbulent, intensely fair,
Where Beauty beckoned and where Strength pursued.
There was a time when I thought much of Fame,
And laid the golden edifice to be
That in the clear light of eternity
Should fitly house the glory of my name.
But swifter than my fingers pushed their plan,
Over the fair foundation scarce begun,
While I with lovers dallied in the sun,
The ivy clambered and the rose-vine ran.
And now, too late to see my vision, rise,
In place of golden pinnacles and towers,
Only some sunny mounds of leaves and flowers,
Only beloved of birds and butterflies.
My friends were duped, my favorers deceived;
But sometimes, musing sorrowfully there,
That flowered wreck has seemed to me so fair
I scarce regret the temple unachieved.
For there were nights . . . my love to him whose brow
Has glistened with the spoils of nights like those,
Home turning as a conqueror turns home,
What time green dawn down every street uprears
Arches of triumph! He has drained as well
Joy's perfumed bowl and cried as I have cried:
Be Fame their mistress whom Love passes by.
This only matters: from some flowery bed,
Laden with sweetness like a homing bee,
If one have known what bliss it is to come,
Bearing on hands and breast and laughing lips
The fragrance of his youth's dear rose. To him
The hills have bared their treasure, the far clouds
Unveiled the vision that o'er summer seas
Drew on his thirsting arms. This last thing known,
He can court danger, laugh at perilous odds,
And, pillowed on a memory so sweet,
Unto oblivious eternity
Without regret yield his victorious soul,
The blessed pilgrim of a vow fulfilled.
What is Success? Out of the endless ore
Of deep desire to coin the utmost gold
Of passionate memory; to have lived so well
That the fifth moon, when it swims up once more
Through orchard boughs where mating orioles build
And apple flowers unfold,
Find not of that dear need that all things tell
The heart unburdened nor the arms unfilled.
O Love, whereof my boyhood was the dream,
My youth the beautiful novitiate,
Life was so slight a thing and thou so great,
How could I make thee less than all-supreme!
In thy sweet transports not alone I thought
Mingled the twain that panted breast to breast.
The sun and stars throbbed with them; they were caught
Into the pulse of Nature and possessed
By the same light that consecrates it so.
Love! -- 'tis the payment of the debt we owe
The beauty of the world, and whensoe'er
In silks and perfume and unloosened hair
The loveliness of lovers, face to face,
Lies folded in the adorable embrace,
Doubt not as of a perfect sacrifice
That soul partakes whose inspiration fills
The springtime and the depth of summer skies,
The rainbow and the clouds behind the hills,
That excellence in earth and air and sea
That makes things as they are the real divinity.
Down the strait vistas where a city street
Fades in pale dust and vaporous distances,
Stained with far fumes the light grows less and less
And the sky reddens round the day's retreat.
Now out of orient chambers, cool and sweet,
Like Nature's pure lustration, Dusk comes down.
Now the lamps brighten and the quickening town
Rings with the trample of returning feet.
And Pleasure, risen from her own warm mould
Sunk all the drowsy and unloved daylight
In layers of odorous softness, Paphian girls
Cover with gauze, with satin, and with pearls,
Crown, and about her spangly vestments fold
The ermine of the empire of the Night.
Her courts are by the flux of flaming ways,
Between the rivers and the illumined sky
Whose fervid depths reverberate from on high
Fierce lustres mingled in a fiery haze.
They mark it inland; blithe and fair of face
Her suitors follow, guessing by the glare
Beyond the hilltops in the evening air
How bright the cressets at her portals blaze.
On the pure fronts Defeat ere many a day
Falls like the soot and dirt on city-snow;
There hopes deferred lie sunk in piteous seams.
Her paths are disillusion and decay,
With ruins piled and unapparent woe,
The graves of Beauty and the wreck of dreams.
There was a youth around whose early way
White angels hung in converse and sweet choir,
Teaching in summer clouds his thought to stray, --
In cloud and far horizon to desire.
His life was nursed in beauty, like the stream
Born of clear showers and the mountain dew,
Close under snow-clad summits where they gleam
Forever pure against heaven's orient blue.
Within the city's shades he walked at last.
Faint and more faint in sad recessional
Down the dim corridors of Time outworn,
A chorus ebbed from that forsaken past,
A hymn of glories fled beyond recall
With the lost heights and splendor of life's morn.
Up at his attic sill the South wind came
And days of sun and storm but never peace.
Along the town's tumultuous arteries
He heard the heart-throbs of a sentient frame:
Each night the whistles in the bay, the same
Whirl of incessant wheels and clanging cars:
For smoke that half obscured, the circling stars
Burnt like his youth with but a sickly flame.
Up to his attic came the city cries --
The throes with which her iron sinews heave --
And yet forever behind prison doors
Welled in his heart and trembled in his eyes
The light that hangs on desert hills at eve
And tints the sea on solitary shores. . . .
A tide of beauty with returning May
Floods the fair city; from warm pavements fume
Odors endeared; down avenues in bloom
The chestnut-trees with phallic spires are gay.
Over the terrace flows the thronged cafe;
The boulevards are streams of hurrying sound;
And through the streets, like veins when they abound,
The lust for pleasure throbs itself away.
Here let me live, here let me still pursue
Phantoms of bliss that beckon and recede, --
Thy strange allurements, City that I love,
Maze of romance, where I have followed too
The dream Youth treasures of its dearest need
And stars beyond thy towers bring tidings of.
Give me the treble of thy horns and hoofs,
The ponderous undertones of 'bus and tram,
A garret and a glimpse across the roofs
Of clouds blown eastward over Notre Dame,
The glad-eyed streets and radiant gatherings
Where I drank deep the bliss of being young,
The strife and sweet potential flux of things
I sought Youth's dream of happiness among!
It walks here aureoled with the city-light,
Forever through the myriad-featured mass
Flaunting not far its fugitive embrace, --
Heard sometimes in a song across the night,
Caught in a perfume from the crowds that pass,
And when love yields to love seen face to face.
To me, a pilgrim on that journey bound
Whose stations Beauty's bright examples are,
As of a silken city famed afar
Over the sands for wealth and holy ground,
Came the report of one -- a woman crowned
With all perfection, blemishless and high,
As the full moon amid the moonlit sky,
With the world's praise and wonder clad around.
And I who held this notion of success:
To leave no form of Nature's loveliness
Unworshipped, if glad eyes have access there, --
Beyond all earthly bounds have made my goal
To find where that sweet shrine is and extol
The hand that triumphed in a work so fair.
Oft as by chance, a little while apart
The pall of empty, loveless hours withdrawn,
Sweet Beauty, opening on the impoverished heart,
Beams like the jewel on the breast of dawn:
Not though high heaven should rend would deeper awe
Fill me than penetrates my spirit thus,
Nor all those signs the Patmian prophet saw
Seem a new heaven and earth so marvelous;
But, clad thenceforth in iridescent dyes,
The fair world glistens, and in after days
The memory of kind lips and laughing eyes
Lives in my step and lightens all my face, --
So they who found the Earthly Paradise
Still breathed, returned, of that sweet, joyful place.
Amid the florid multitude her face
Was like the full moon seen behind the lace
Of orchard boughs where clouded blossoms part
When Spring shines in the world and in the heart.
As the full-moon-beams to the ferny floor
Of summer woods through flower and foliage pour,
So to my being's innermost recess
Flooded the light of so much loveliness;
She held as in a vase of priceless ware
The wine that over arid ways and bare
My youth was the pathetic thirsting for,
And where she moved the veil of Nature grew
Diaphanous and that radiance mantled through
Which, when I see, I tremble and adore.
A splendor, flamelike, born to be pursued,
With palms extent for amorous charity
And eyes incensed with love for all they see,
A wonder more to be adored than wooed,
On whom the grace of conscious womanhood
Adorning every little thing she does
Sits like enchantment, making glorious
A careless pose, a casual attitude;
Around her lovely shoulders mantle-wise
Hath come the realm of those old fabulous queens
Whose storied loves are Art's rich heritage,
To keep alive in this our latter age
That force that moving through sweet Beauty's means
Lifts up Man's soul to towering enterprise.
* A paraphrase of Petrarca, `Quando fra l'altre donne . . .'
When among creatures fair of countenance
Love comes enformed in such proud character,
So far as other beauty yields to her,
So far the breast with fiercer longing pants;
I bless the spot, and hour, and circumstance,
That wed desire to a thing so high,
And say, Glad soul, rejoice, for thou and I
Of bliss unpaired are made participants;
Hence have come ardent thoughts and waking dreams
That, feeding Fancy from so sweet a cup,
Leave it no lust for gross imaginings.
Through her the woman's perfect beauty gleams
That while it gazes lifts the spirit up
To that high source from which all beauty springs.
Like as a dryad, from her native bole
Coming at dusk, when the dim stars emerge,
To a slow river at whose silent verge
Tall poplars tremble and deep grasses roll,
Come thou no less and, kneeling in a shoal
Of the freaked flag and meadow buttercup,
Bend till thine image from the pool beam up
Arched with blue heaven like an aureole.
See how adorable in fancy then
Lives the fair face it mirrors even so,
O thou whose beauty moving among men
Is like the wind's way on the woods below,
Filling all nature where its pathway lies
With arms that supplicate and trembling sighs.
I fancied, while you stood conversing there,
Superb, in every attitude a queen,
Her ermine thus Boadicea bare,
So moved amid the multitude Faustine.
My life, whose whole religion Beauty is,
Be charged with sin if ever before yours
A lesser feeling crossed my mind than his
Who owning grandeur marvels and adores.
Nay, rather in my dream-world's ivory tower
I made your image the high pearly sill,
And mounting there in many a wistful hour,
Burdened with love, I trembled and was still,
Seeing discovered from that azure height
Remote, untrod horizons of delight.
It may be for the world of weeds and tares
And dearth in Nature of sweet Beauty's rose
That oft as Fortune from ten thousand shows
One from the train of Love's true courtiers
Straightway on him who gazes, unawares,
Deep wonder seizes and swift trembling grows,
Reft by that sight of purpose and repose,
Hardly its weight his fainting breast upbears.
Then on the soul from some ancestral place
Floods back remembrance of its heavenly birth,
When, in the light of that serener sphere,
It saw ideal beauty face to face
That through the forms of this our meaner Earth
Shines with a beam less steadfast and less clear.
Above the ruin of God's holy place,
Where man-forsaken lay the bleeding rood,
Whose hands, when men had craved substantial food,
Gave not, nor folded when they cried, Embrace,
I saw exalted in the latter days
Her whom west winds with natal foam bedewed,
Wafted toward Cyprus, lily-breasted, nude,
Standing with arms out-stretched and flower-like face.
And, sick with all those centuries of tears
Shed in the penance for factitious woe,
Once more I saw the nations at her feet,
For Love shone in their eyes, and in their ears
Come unto me, Love beckoned them, for lo!
The breast your lips abjured is still as sweet.
Who shall invoke her, who shall be her priest,
With single rites the common debt to pay?
On some green headland fronting to the East
Our fairest boy shall kneel at break of day.
Naked, uplifting in a laden tray
New milk and honey and sweet-tinctured wine,
Not without twigs of clustering apple-spray
To wreath a garland for Our Lady's shrine.
The morning planet poised above the sea
Shall drop sweet influence through her drowsing lid;
Dew-drenched, his delicate virginity
Shall scarce disturb the flowers he kneels amid,
That, waked so lightly, shall lift up their eyes,
Cushion his knees, and nod between his thighs.
Lay me where soft Cyrene rambles down
In grove and garden to the sapphire sea;
Twine yellow roses for the drinker's crown;
Let music reach and fair heads circle me,
Watching blue ocean where the white sails steer
Fruit-laden forth or with the wares and news
Of merchant cities seek our harbors here,
Careless how Corinth fares, how Syracuse;
But here, with love and sleep in her caress,
Warm night shall sink and utterly persuade
The gentle doctrine Aristippus bare, --
Night-winds, and one whose white youth's loveliness,
In a flowered balcony beside me laid,
Dreams, with the starlight on her fragrant hair.
Stretched on a sunny bank he lay at rest,
Ferns at his elbow, lilies round his knees,
With sweet flesh patterned where the cool turf pressed,
Flowerlike crept o'er with emerald aphides.
Single he couched there, to his circling flocks
Piping at times some happy shepherd's tune,
Nude, with the warm wind in his golden locks,
And arched with the blue Asian afternoon.
Past him, gorse-purpled, to the distant coast
Rolled the clear foothills. There his white-walled town,
There, a blue band, the placid Euxine lay.
Beyond, on fields of azure light embossed
He watched from noon till dewy eve came down
The summer clouds pile up and fade away.
Her eyes under their lashes were blue pools
Fringed round with lilies; her bright hair unfurled
Clothed her as sunshine clothes the summer world.
Her robes were gauzes -- gold and green and gules,
All furry things flocked round her, from her hand
Nibbling their foods and fawning at her feet.
Two peacocks watched her where she made her seat
Beside a fountain in Broceliande.
Sometimes she sang. . . . Whoever heard forgot
Errand and aim, and knights at noontide here,
Riding from fabulous gestes beyond the seas,
Would follow, tranced, and seek . . . and find her not . . .
But wake that night, lost, by some woodland mere,
Powdered with stars and rimmed with silent trees.
I Loved . . .
I loved illustrious cities and the crowds
That eddy through their incandescent nights.
I loved remote horizons with far clouds
Girdled, and fringed about with snowy heights.
I loved fair women, their sweet, conscious ways
Of wearing among hands that covet and plead
The rose ablossom at the rainbow's base
That bounds the world's desire and all its need.
Nature I worshipped, whose fecundity
Embraces every vision the most fair,
Of perfect benediction. From a boy
I gloated on existence. Earth to me
Seemed all-sufficient and my sojourn there
One trembling opportunity for joy.
Virginibus Puerisque . . .
I care not that one listen if he lives
For aught but life's romance, nor puts above
All life's necessities the need to love,
Nor counts his greatest wealth what Beauty gives.
But sometime on an afternoon in spring,
When dandelions dot the fields with gold,
And under rustling shade a few weeks old
'Tis sweet to stroll and hear the bluebirds sing,
Do you, blond head, whom beauty and the power
Of being young and winsome have prepared
For life's last privilege that really pays,
Make the companion of an idle hour
These relics of the time when I too fared
Across the sweet fifth lustrum of my days.
With a Copy of Shakespeare's Sonnets on Leaving College
As one of some fat tillage dispossessed,
Weighing the yield of these four faded years,
If any ask what fruit seems loveliest,
What lasting gold among the garnered ears, --
Ah, then I'll say what hours I had of thine,
Therein I reaped Time's richest revenue,
Read in thy text the sense of David's line,
Through thee achieved the love that Shakespeare knew.
Take then his book, laden with mine own love
As flowers made sweeter by deep-drunken rain,
That when years sunder and between us move
Wide waters, and less kindly bonds constrain,
Thou may'st turn here, dear boy, and reading see
Some part of what thy friend once felt for thee.
Written in a Volume of the Comtesse de Noailles
Be my companion under cool arcades
That frame some drowsy street and dazzling square
Beyond whose flowers and palm-tree promenades
White belfries burn in the blue tropic air.
Lie near me in dim forests where the croon
Of wood-doves sounds and moss-banked water flows,
Or musing late till the midsummer moon
Breaks through some ruined abbey's empty rose.
Sweetest of those to-day whose pious hands
Tend the sequestered altar of Romance,
Where fewer offerings burn, and fewer kneel,
Pour there your passionate beauty on my heart,
And, gladdening such solitudes, impart
How sweet the fellowship of those who feel!
The rooks aclamor when one enters here
Startle the empty towers far overhead;
Through gaping walls the summer fields appear,
Green, tan, or, poppy-mingled, tinged with red.
The courts where revel rang deep grass and moss
Cover, and tangled vines have overgrown
The gate where banners blazoned with a cross
Rolled forth to toss round Tyre and Ascalon.
Decay consumes it. The old causes fade.
And fretting for the contest many a heart
Waits their Tyrtaeus to chant on the new.
Oh, pass him by who, in this haunted shade
Musing enthralled, has only this much art,
To love the things the birds and flowers love too.
Though thou art now a ruin bare and cold,
Thou wert sometime the garden of a king.
The birds have sought a lovelier place to sing.
The flowers are few. It was not so of old.
It was not thus when hand in hand there strolled
Through arbors perfumed with undying Spring
Bare bodies beautiful, brown, glistening,
Decked with green plumes and rings of yellow gold.
Do you suppose the herdsman sometimes hears
Vague echoes borne beneath the moon's pale ray
From those old, old, far-off, forgotten years?
Who knows? Here where his ancient kings held sway
He stands. Their names are strangers to his ears.
Even their memory has passed away.
The Old Lowe House, Staten Island
Another prospect pleased the builder's eye,
And Fashion tenanted (where Fashion wanes)
Here in the sorrowful suburban lanes
When first these gables rose against the sky.
Relic of a romantic taste gone by,
This stately monument alone remains,
Vacant, with lichened walls and window-panes
Blank as the windows of a skull. But I,
On evenings when autumnal winds have stirred
In the porch-vines, to this gray oracle
Have laid a wondering ear and oft-times heard,
As from the hollow of a stranded shell,
Old voices echoing (or my fancy erred)
Things indistinct, but not insensible.
A hilltop sought by every soothing breeze
That loves the melody of murmuring boughs,
Cool shades, green acreage, and antique house
Fronting the ocean and the dawn; than these
Old monks built never for the spirit's ease
Cloisters more calm -- not Cluny nor Clairvaux;
Sweet are the noises from the bay below,
And cuckoos calling in the tulip-trees.
Here, a yet empty suitor in thy train,
Beloved Poesy, great joy was mine
To while a listless spell of summer days,
Happier than hoarder in each evening's gain,
When evenings found me richer by one line,
One verse well turned, or serviceable phrase.
On the Cliffs, Newport
Tonight a shimmer of gold lies mantled o'er
Smooth lovely Ocean. Through the lustrous gloom
A savor steals from linden trees in bloom
And gardens ranged at many a palace door.
Proud walls rise here, and, where the moonbeams pour
Their pale enchantment down the dim coast-line,
Terrace and lawn, trim hedge and flowering vine,
Crown with fair culture all the sounding shore.
How sweet, to such a place, on such a night,
From halls with beauty and festival a-glare,
To come distract and, stretched on the cool turf,
Yield to some fond, improbable delight,
While the moon, reddening, sinks, and all the air
Sighs with the muffled tumult of the surf!
To England at the Outbreak of the Balkan War
A cloud has lowered that shall not soon pass o'er.
The world takes sides: whether for impious aims
With Tyranny whose bloody toll enflames
A generous people to heroic war;
Whether with Freedom, stretched in her own gore,
Whose pleading hands and suppliant distress
Still offer hearts that thirst for Righteousness
A glorious cause to strike or perish for.
England, which side is thine? Thou hast had sons
Would shrink not from the choice however grim,
Were Justice trampled on and Courage downed;
Which will they be -- cravens or champions?
Oh, if a doubt intrude, remember him
Whose death made Missolonghi holy ground.
At the Tomb of Napoleon Before the Elections in America -- November, 1912
I stood beside his sepulchre whose fame,
Hurled over Europe once on bolt and blast,
Now glows far off as storm-clouds overpast
Glow in the sunset flushed with glorious flame.
Has Nature marred his mould? Can Art acclaim
No hero now, no man with whom men side
As with their hearts' high needs personified?
There are will say, One such our lips could name;
Columbia gave him birth. Him Genius most
Gifted to rule. Against the world's great man
Lift their low calumny and sneering cries
The Pharisaic multitude, the host
Of piddling slanderers whose little eyes
Know not what greatness is and never can.
He faints with hope and fear. It is the hour.
Distant, across the thundering organ-swell,
In sweet discord from the cathedral-tower,
Fall the faint chimes and the thrice-sequent bell.
Over the crowd his eye uneasy roves.
He sees a plume, a fur; his heart dilates --
Soars . . . and then sinks again. It is not hers he loves.
She will not come, the woman that he waits.
Braided with streams of silver incense rise
The antique prayers and ponderous antiphones.
`Gloria Patri' echoes to the skies;
`Nunc et in saecula' the choir intones.
He marks not the monotonous refrain,
The priest that serves nor him that celebrates,
But ever scans the aisle for his blonde head. . . . In vain!
She will not come, the woman that he waits.
How like a flower seemed the perfumed place
Where the sweet flesh lay loveliest to kiss;
And her white hands in what delicious ways,
With what unfeigned caresses, answered his!
Each tender charm intolerable to lose,
Each happy scene his fancy recreates.
And he calls out her name and spreads his arms . . . No use!
She will not come, the woman that he waits.
But the long vespers close. The priest on high
Raises the thing that Christ's own flesh enforms;
And down the Gothic nave the crowd flows by
And through the portal's carven entry swarms.
Maddened he peers upon each passing face
Till the long drab procession terminates.
No princess passes out with proud majestic pace.
She has not come, the woman that he waits.
Back in the empty silent church alone
He walks with aching heart. A white-robed boy
Puts out the altar-candles one by one,
Even as by inches darkens all his joy.
He dreams of the sweet night their lips first met,
And groans -- and turns to leave -- and hesitates . . .
Poor stricken heart, he will, he can not fancy yet
She will not come, the woman that he waits.
But in an arch where deepest shadows fall
He sits and studies the old, storied panes,
And the calm crucifix that from the wall
Looks on a world that quavers and complains.
Hopeless, abandoned, desolate, aghast,
On modes of violent death he meditates.
And the tower-clock tolls five, and he admits at last,
She will not come, the woman that he waits.
Through the stained rose the winter daylight dies,
And all the tide of anguish unrepressed
Swells in his throat and gathers in his eyes;
He kneels and bows his head upon his breast,
And feigns a prayer to hide his burning tears,
While the satanic voice reiterates
`Tonight, tomorrow, nay, nor all the impending years,
She will not come,' the woman that he waits.
Fond, fervent heart of life's enamored spring,
So true, so confident, so passing fair,
That thought of Love as some sweet, tender thing,
And not as war, red tooth and nail laid bare,
How in that hour its innocence was slain,
How from that hour our disillusion dates,
When first we learned thy sense, ironical refrain,
She will not come, the woman that he waits.
Do You Remember Once . . .
Do you remember once, in Paris of glad faces,
The night we wandered off under the third moon's rays
And, leaving far behind bright streets and busy places,
Stood where the Seine flowed down between its quiet quais?
The city's voice was hushed; the placid, lustrous waters
Mirrored the walls across where orange windows burned.
Out of the starry south provoking rumors brought us
Far promise of the spring already northward turned.
And breast drew near to breast, and round its soft desire
My arm uncertain stole and clung there unrepelled.
I thought that nevermore my heart would hover nigher
To the last flower of bliss that Nature's garden held.
There, in your beauty's sweet abandonment to pleasure,
The mute, half-open lips and tender, wondering eyes,
I saw embodied first smile back on me the treasure
Long sought across the seas and back of summer skies.
Dear face, when courted Death shall claim my limbs and find them
Laid in some desert place, alone or where the tides
Of war's tumultuous waves on the wet sands behind them
Leave rifts of gasping life when their red flood subsides,
Out of the past's remote delirious abysses
Shine forth once more as then you shone, -- beloved head,
Laid back in ecstasy between our blinding kisses,
Transfigured with the bliss of being so coveted.
And my sick arms will part, and though hot fever sear it,
My mouth will curve again with the old, tender flame.
And darkness will come down, still finding in my spirit
The dream of your brief love, and on my lips your name.
You loved me on that moonlit night long since.
You were my queen and I the charming prince
Elected from a world of mortal men.
You loved me once. . . . What pity was it, then,
You loved not Love. . . . Deep in the emerald west,
Like a returning caravel caressed
By breezes that load all the ambient airs
With clinging fragrance of the bales it bears
From harbors where the caravans come down,
I see over the roof-tops of the town
The new moon back again, but shall not see
The joy that once it had in store for me,
Nor know again the voice upon the stair,
The little studio in the candle-glare,
And all that makes in word and touch and glance
The bliss of the first nights of a romance
When will to love and be beloved casts out
The want to question or the will to doubt.
You loved me once. . . . Under the western seas
The pale moon settles and the Pleiades.
The firelight sinks; outside the night-winds moan --
The hour advances, and I sleep alone.*
p|/ara d' |'/erxet' |`/wra |'/egw de m|/ona kate|/udw.
Farewell, dear heart, enough of vain despairing!
If I have erred I plead but one excuse --
The jewel were a lesser joy in wearing
That cost a lesser agony to lose.
I had not bid for beautifuller hours
Had I not found the door so near unsealed,
Nor hoped, had you not filled my arms with flowers,
For that one flower that bloomed too far afield.
If I have wept, it was because, forsaken,
I felt perhaps more poignantly than some
The blank eternity from which we waken
And all the blank eternity to come.
And I betrayed how sweet a thing and tender
(In the regret with which my lip was curled)
Seemed in its tragic, momentary splendor
My transit through the beauty of the world.
Flaked, drifting clouds hide not the full moon's rays
More than her beautiful bright limbs were hid
By the light veils they burned and blushed amid,
Skilled to provoke in soft, lascivious ways,
And there was invitation in her voice
And laughing lips and wonderful dark eyes,
As though above the gates of Paradise
Fair verses bade, Be welcome and rejoice!
O'er rugs where mottled blue and green and red
Blent in the patterns of the Orient loom,
Like a bright butterfly from bloom to bloom,
She floated with delicious arms outspread.
There was no pose she took, no move she made,
But all the feverous, love-envenomed flesh
Wrapped round as in the gladiator's mesh
And smote as with his triple-forked blade.
I thought that round her sinuous beauty curled
Fierce exhalations of hot human love, --
Around her beauty valuable above
The sunny outspread kingdoms of the world;
Flowing as ever like a dancing fire
Flowed her belled ankles and bejewelled wrists,
Around her beauty swept like sanguine mists
The nimbus of a thousand hearts' desire.
O happiness, I know not what far seas,
Blue hills and deep, thy sunny realms surround,
That thus in Music's wistful harmonies
And concert of sweet sound
A rumor steals, from some uncertain shore,
Of lovely things outworn or gladness yet in store:
Whether thy beams be pitiful and come,
Across the sundering of vanished years,
From childhood and the happy fields of home,
Like eyes instinct with tears
Felt through green brakes of hedge and apple-bough
Round haunts delightful once, desert and silent now;
Or yet if prescience of unrealized love
Startle the breast with each melodious air,
And gifts that gentle hands are donors of
Still wait intact somewhere,
Furled up all golden in a perfumed place
Within the folded petals of forthcoming days.
Only forever, in the old unrest
Of winds and waters and the varying year,
A litany from islands of the blessed
Answers, Not here . . . not here!
And over the wide world that wandering cry
Shall lead my searching heart unsoothed until I die.
Broceliande! in the perilous beauty of silence and menacing shade,
Thou art set on the shores of the sea down the haze
of horizons untravelled, unscanned.
Untroubled, untouched with the woes of this world
are the moon-marshalled hosts that invade
Only at dusk, when lavender clouds in the orient twilight disband,
Vanishing where all the blue afternoon they have drifted in solemn parade,
Sometimes a whisper comes down on the wind from the valleys of Fairyland ----
Sometimes an echo most mournful and faint like the horn of a huntsman strayed,
Faint and forlorn, half drowned in the murmur of foliage fitfully fanned,
Breathes in a burden of nameless regret till I startle,
disturbed and affrayed:
Broceliande. . . .
In Lyonesse was beauty enough, men say:
Long Summer loaded the orchards to excess,
And fertile lowlands lengthening far away,
Came a term to that land's old favoredness:
Past the sea-walls, crumbled in thundering spray,
Rolled the green waves, ravening, merciless.
Through bearded boughs immobile in cool decay,
Where sea-bloom covers corroding palaces,
The mermaid glides with a curious glance to-day,
So when the verdure of his life was shed,
With all the grace of ripened manlihead,
And on his locks, but now so lovable,
Old age like desolating winter fell,
Leaving them white and flowerless and forlorn:
Then from his bed the Goddess of the Morn
Softly withheld, yet cherished him no less
With pious works of pitying tenderness;
Till when at length with vacant, heedless eyes,
And hoary height bent down none otherwise
Than burdened willows bend beneath their weight
Of snow when winter winds turn temperate, --
So bowed with years -- when still he lingered on:
Then to the daughter of Hyperion
This counsel seemed the best: for she, afar
By dove-gray seas under the morning star,
Where, on the wide world's uttermost extremes,
Her amber-walled, auroral palace gleams,
High in an orient chamber bade prepare
An everlasting couch, and laid him there,
And leaving, closed the shining doors. But he,
Deathless by Jove's compassionless decree,
Found not, as others find, a dreamless rest.
There wakeful, with half-waking dreams oppressed,
Still in an aural, visionary haze
Float round him vanished forms of happier days;
Still at his side he fancies to behold
The rosy, radiant thing beloved of old;
And oft, as over dewy meads at morn,
Far inland from a sunrise coast is borne
The drowsy, muffled moaning of the sea,
Even so his voice flows on unceasingly, --
Lisping sweet names of passion overblown,
Breaking with dull, persistent undertone
The breathless silence that forever broods
Round those colossal, lustrous solitudes.
Times change. Man's fortune prospers, or it falls.
Change harbors not in those eternal halls
And tranquil chamber where Tithonus lies.
But through his window there the eastern skies
Fall palely fair to the dim ocean's end.
There, in blue mist where air and ocean blend,
The lazy clouds that sail the wide world o'er
Falter and turn where they can sail no more.
There singing groves, there spacious gardens blow --
Cedars and silver poplars, row on row,
Through whose black boughs on her appointed night,
Flooding his chamber with enchanted light,
Lifts the full moon's immeasurable sphere,
Crimson and huge and wonderfully near.
An Ode to Antares
At dusk, when lowlands where dark waters glide
Robe in gray mist, and through the greening hills
The hoot-owl calls his mate, and whippoorwills
Clamor from every copse and orchard-side,
I watched the red star rising in the East,
And while his fellows of the flaming sign
From prisoning daylight more and more released,
Lift their pale lamps, and, climbing higher, higher,
Out of their locks the waters of the Line
Shaking in clouds of phosphorescent fire,
Rose in the splendor of their curving flight,
Their dolphin leap across the austral night,
From windows southward opening on the sea
What eyes, I wondered, might be watching, too,
Orbed in some blossom-laden balcony.
Where, from the garden to the rail above,
As though a lover's greeting to his love
Should borrow body and form and hue
And tower in torrents of floral flame,
The crimson bougainvillea grew,
What starlit brow uplifted to the same
Majestic regress of the summering sky,
What ultimate thing -- hushed, holy, throned as high
Above the currents that tarnish and profane
As silver summits are whose pure repose
No curious eyes disclose
Nor any footfalls stain,
But round their beauty on azure evenings
Only the oreads go on gauzy wings,
Only the oreads troop with dance and song
And airy beings in rainbow mists who throng
Out of those wonderful worlds that lie afar
Betwixt the outmost cloud and the nearest star.
Like the moon, sanguine in the orient night
Shines the red flower in her beautiful hair.
Her breasts are distant islands of delight
Upon a sea where all is soft and fair.
Those robes that make a silken sheath
For each lithe attitude that flows beneath,
Shrouding in scented folds sweet warmths and tumid flowers,
Call them far clouds that half emerge
Beyond a sunset ocean's utmost verge,
Hiding in purple shade and downpour of soft showers
Enchanted isles by mortal foot untrod,
And there in humid dells resplendent orchids nod;
There always from serene horizons blow
Soul-easing gales and there all spice-trees grow
That Phoenix robbed to line his fragrant nest
Each hundred years in Araby the Blest.
Star of the South that now through orient mist
At nightfall off Tampico or Belize
Greetest the sailor rising from those seas
Where first in me, a fond romanticist,
The tropic sunset's bloom on cloudy piles
Cast out industrious cares with dreams of fabulous isles --
Thou lamp of the swart lover to his tryst,
O'er planted acres at the jungle's rim
Reeking with orange-flower and tuberose,
Dear to his eyes thy ruddy splendor glows
Among the palms where beauty waits for him;