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Sword Blades and Poppy Seed by Amy Lowell

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Sword Blades and Poppy Seed
by Amy Lowell [American (Massachusetts) poet, 1874-1925.]

[Note on text: Italicized stanzas or sections are marked by tildes (~).
Other italics are capitalized. Lines longer than 78 characters
have been cut and continued on the next line, which is indented 2 spaces
unless in a prose poem.]

Sword Blades and Poppy Seed
by Amy Lowell

~"Face invisible! je t'ai grave/e en me/dailles
D'argent doux comme l'aube pa^le,
D'or ardent comme le soleil,
D'airain sombre comme la nuit;
Il y en a de tout me/tal,
Qui tintent clair comme la joie,
Qui sonnent lourd comme la gloire,
Comme l'amour, comme la mort;
Et j'ai fait les plus belles de belle argile
Se\che et fragile.

"Une a\ une, vous les comptiez en souriant,
Et vous disiez: Il est habile;
Et vous passiez en souriant.

"Aucun de vous n'a donc vu
Que mes mains tremblaient de tendresse,
Que tout le grand songe terrestre
Vivait en moi pour vivre en eux
Que je gravais aux me/taux pieux,
Mes Dieux."~

Henri de Re/gnier, "Les Me/dailles d'Argile".


No one expects a man to make a chair without first learning how,
but there is a popular impression that the poet is born, not made,
and that his verses burst from his overflowing heart of themselves.
As a matter of fact, the poet must learn his trade in the same manner,
and with the same painstaking care, as the cabinet-maker.
His heart may overflow with high thoughts and sparkling fancies,
but if he cannot convey them to his reader by means of the written word
he has no claim to be considered a poet. A workman may be pardoned,
therefore, for spending a few moments to explain and describe
the technique of his trade. A work of beauty which cannot stand
an intimate examination is a poor and jerry-built thing.

In the first place, I wish to state my firm belief that poetry should not
try to teach, that it should exist simply because it is a created beauty,
even if sometimes the beauty of a gothic grotesque. We do not ask the trees
to teach us moral lessons, and only the Salvation Army feels it necessary
to pin texts upon them. We know that these texts are ridiculous,
but many of us do not yet see that to write an obvious moral
all over a work of art, picture, statue, or poem, is not only ridiculous,
but timid and vulgar. We distrust a beauty we only half understand,
and rush in with our impertinent suggestions. How far we are
from "admitting the Universe"! The Universe, which flings down
its continents and seas, and leaves them without comment. Art is as much
a function of the Universe as an Equinoctial gale, or the Law of Gravitation;
and we insist upon considering it merely a little scroll-work,
of no great importance unless it be studded with nails from which
pretty and uplifting sentiments may be hung!

For the purely technical side I must state my immense debt to the French,
and perhaps above all to the, so-called, Parnassian School,
although some of the writers who have influenced me most do not belong to it.
High-minded and untiring workmen, they have spared no pains
to produce a poetry finer than that of any other country in our time.
Poetry so full of beauty and feeling, that the study of it is at once
an inspiration and a despair to the artist. The Anglo-Saxon of our day
has a tendency to think that a fine idea excuses slovenly workmanship.
These clear-eyed Frenchmen are a reproof to our self-satisfied laziness.
Before the works of Parnassians like Leconte de Lisle,
and Jose/-Maria de Heredia, or those of Henri de Re/gnier, Albert Samain,
Francis Jammes, Remy de Gourmont, and Paul Fort, of the more modern school,
we stand rebuked. Indeed -- "They order this matter better in France."

It is because in France, to-day, poetry is so living and vigorous a thing,
that so many metrical experiments come from there. Only a vigorous tree has
the vitality to put forth new branches. The poet with originality and power
is always seeking to give his readers the same poignant feeling which
he has himself. To do this he must constantly find new and striking images,
delightful and unexpected forms. Take the word "daybreak", for instance.
What a remarkable picture it must once have conjured up!
The great, round sun, like the yolk of some mighty egg, BREAKING through
cracked and splintered clouds. But we have said "daybreak" so often
that we do not see the picture any more, it has become only
another word for dawn. The poet must be constantly seeking new pictures
to make his readers feel the vitality of his thought.

Many of the poems in this volume are written in what
the French call "Vers Libre", a nomenclature more suited
to French use and to French versification than to ours. I prefer to call them
poems in "unrhymed cadence", for that conveys their exact meaning
to an English ear. They are built upon "organic rhythm",
or the rhythm of the speaking voice with its necessity for breathing,
rather than upon a strict metrical system. They differ from
ordinary prose rhythms by being more curved, and containing more stress.
The stress, and exceedingly marked curve, of any regular metre
is easily perceived. These poems, built upon cadence, are more subtle,
but the laws they follow are not less fixed. Merely chopping
prose lines into lengths does not produce cadence, it is constructed upon
mathematical and absolute laws of balance and time. In the preface
to his "Poems", Henley speaks of "those unrhyming rhythms in which
I had tried to quintessentialize, as (I believe) one scarce can do in rhyme."
The desire to "quintessentialize", to head-up an emotion
until it burns white-hot, seems to be an integral part of the modern temper,
and certainly "unrhymed cadence" is unique in its power of expressing this.

Three of these poems are written in a form which, so far as I know,
has never before been attempted in English. M. Paul Fort is its inventor,
and the results it has yielded to him are most beautiful and satisfactory.
Perhaps it is more suited to the French language than to English.
But I found it the only medium in which these particular poems
could be written. It is a fluid and changing form, now prose, now verse,
and permitting a great variety of treatment.

But the reader will see that I have not entirely abandoned
the more classic English metres. I cannot see why, because certain manners
suit certain emotions and subjects, it should be considered imperative
for an author to employ no others. Schools are for those
who can confine themselves within them. Perhaps it is a weakness in me
that I cannot.

In conclusion, I would say that these remarks are in answer to many questions
asked me by people who have happened to read some of these poems
in periodicals. They are not for the purpose of forestalling criticism,
nor of courting it; and they deal, as I said in the beginning, solely with
the question of technique. For the more important part of the book,
the poems must speak for themselves.

Amy Lowell.
May 19, 1914.


Sword Blades and Poppy Seed

Sword Blades and Poppy Seed

Sword Blades

The Captured Goddess
The Precinct. Rochester
The Cyclists
Sunshine through a Cobwebbed Window
A London Thoroughfare. 2 A.M.
The Coal Picker
A Petition
A Blockhead
The Last Quarter of the Moon
A Tale of Starvation
The Foreigner
A Gift
The Bungler
Fool's Money Bags
Miscast I
Miscast II
The Tree of Scarlet Berries
The Taxi
The Giver of Stars
The Temple
Epitaph of a Young Poet Who Died Before Having Achieved Success
In Answer to a Request

Poppy Seed

The Great Adventure of Max Breuck
Sancta Maria, Succurre Miseris
After Hearing a Waltz by Bartok
Clear, with Light, Variable Winds
The Basket
In a Castle
The Book of Hours of Sister Clotilde
The Exeter Road
The Shadow
The Forsaken
Late September
The Pike
The Blue Scarf
White and Green
A Lady
In a Garden
A Tulip Garden

Sword Blades and Poppy Seed

Sword Blades and Poppy Seed

A drifting, April, twilight sky,
A wind which blew the puddles dry,
And slapped the river into waves
That ran and hid among the staves
Of an old wharf. A watery light
Touched bleak the granite bridge, and white
Without the slightest tinge of gold,
The city shivered in the cold.
All day my thoughts had lain as dead,
Unborn and bursting in my head.
From time to time I wrote a word
Which lines and circles overscored.
My table seemed a graveyard, full
Of coffins waiting burial.
I seized these vile abortions, tore
Them into jagged bits, and swore
To be the dupe of hope no more.
Into the evening straight I went,
Starved of a day's accomplishment.
Unnoticing, I wandered where
The city gave a space for air,
And on the bridge's parapet
I leant, while pallidly there set
A dim, discouraged, worn-out sun.
Behind me, where the tramways run,
Blossomed bright lights, I turned to leave,
When someone plucked me by the sleeve.
"Your pardon, Sir, but I should be
Most grateful could you lend to me
A carfare, I have lost my purse."
The voice was clear, concise, and terse.
I turned and met the quiet gaze
Of strange eyes flashing through the haze.

The man was old and slightly bent,
Under his cloak some instrument
Disarranged its stately line,
He rested on his cane a fine
And nervous hand, an almandine
Smouldered with dull-red flames, sanguine
It burned in twisted gold, upon
His finger. Like some Spanish don,
Conferring favours even when
Asking an alms, he bowed again
And waited. But my pockets proved
Empty, in vain I poked and shoved,
No hidden penny lurking there
Greeted my search. "Sir, I declare
I have no money, pray forgive,
But let me take you where you live."
And so we plodded through the mire
Where street lamps cast a wavering fire.
I took no note of where we went,
His talk became the element
Wherein my being swam, content.
It flashed like rapiers in the night
Lit by uncertain candle-light,
When on some moon-forsaken sward
A quarrel dies upon a sword.
It hacked and carved like a cutlass blade,
And the noise in the air the broad words made
Was the cry of the wind at a window-pane
On an Autumn night of sobbing rain.
Then it would run like a steady stream
Under pinnacled bridges where minarets gleam,
Or lap the air like the lapping tide
Where a marble staircase lifts its wide
Green-spotted steps to a garden gate,
And a waning moon is sinking straight
Down to a black and ominous sea,
While a nightingale sings in a lemon tree.

I walked as though some opiate
Had stung and dulled my brain, a state
Acute and slumbrous. It grew late.
We stopped, a house stood silent, dark.
The old man scratched a match, the spark
Lit up the keyhole of a door,
We entered straight upon a floor
White with finest powdered sand
Carefully sifted, one might stand
Muddy and dripping, and yet no trace
Would stain the boards of this kitchen-place.
From the chimney, red eyes sparked the gloom,
And a cricket's chirp filled all the room.
My host threw pine-cones on the fire
And crimson and scarlet glowed the pyre
Wrapped in the golden flame's desire.
The chamber opened like an eye,
As a half-melted cloud in a Summer sky
The soul of the house stood guessed, and shy
It peered at the stranger warily.
A little shop with its various ware
Spread on shelves with nicest care.
Pitchers, and jars, and jugs, and pots,
Pipkins, and mugs, and many lots
Of lacquered canisters, black and gold,
Like those in which Chinese tea is sold.
Chests, and puncheons, kegs, and flasks,
Goblets, chalices, firkins, and casks.
In a corner three ancient amphorae leaned
Against the wall, like ships careened.
There was dusky blue of Wedgewood ware,
The carved, white figures fluttering there
Like leaves adrift upon the air.
Classic in touch, but emasculate,
The Greek soul grown effeminate.
The factory of Sevres had lent
Elegant boxes with ornament
Culled from gardens where fountains splashed
And golden carp in the shadows flashed,
Nuzzling for crumbs under lily-pads,
Which ladies threw as the last of fads.
Eggshell trays where gay beaux knelt,
Hand on heart, and daintily spelt
Their love in flowers, brittle and bright,
Artificial and fragile, which told aright
The vows of an eighteenth-century knight.
The cruder tones of old Dutch jugs
Glared from one shelf, where Toby mugs
Endlessly drank the foaming ale,
Its froth grown dusty, awaiting sale.
The glancing light of the burning wood
Played over a group of jars which stood
On a distant shelf, it seemed the sky
Had lent the half-tones of his blazonry
To paint these porcelains with unknown hues
Of reds dyed purple and greens turned blues,
Of lustres with so evanescent a sheen
Their colours are felt, but never seen.
Strange winged dragons writhe about
These vases, poisoned venoms spout,
Impregnate with old Chinese charms;
Sealed urns containing mortal harms,
They fill the mind with thoughts impure,
Pestilent drippings from the ure
Of vicious thinkings. "Ah, I see,"
Said I, "you deal in pottery."
The old man turned and looked at me.
Shook his head gently. "No," said he.

Then from under his cloak he took the thing
Which I had wondered to see him bring
Guarded so carefully from sight.
As he laid it down it flashed in the light,
A Toledo blade, with basket hilt,
Damascened with arabesques of gilt,
Or rather gold, and tempered so
It could cut a floating thread at a blow.
The old man smiled, "It has no sheath,
'Twas a little careless to have it beneath
My cloak, for a jostle to my arm
Would have resulted in serious harm.
But it was so fine, I could not wait,
So I brought it with me despite its state."
"An amateur of arms," I thought,
"Bringing home a prize which he has bought."
"You care for this sort of thing, Dear Sir?"
"Not in the way which you infer.
I need them in business, that is all."
And he pointed his finger at the wall.
Then I saw what I had not noticed before.
The walls were hung with at least five score
Of swords and daggers of every size
Which nations of militant men could devise.
Poisoned spears from tropic seas,
That natives, under banana trees,
Smear with the juice of some deadly snake.
Blood-dipped arrows, which savages make
And tip with feathers, orange and green,
A quivering death, in harlequin sheen.
High up, a fan of glancing steel
Was formed of claymores in a wheel.
Jewelled swords worn at kings' levees
Were suspended next midshipmen's dirks, and these
Elbowed stilettos come from Spain,
Chased with some splendid Hidalgo's name.
There were Samurai swords from old Japan,
And scimitars from Hindoostan,
While the blade of a Turkish yataghan
Made a waving streak of vitreous white
Upon the wall, in the firelight.
Foils with buttons broken or lost
Lay heaped on a chair, among them tossed
The boarding-pike of a privateer.
Against the chimney leaned a queer
Two-handed weapon, with edges dull
As though from hacking on a skull.
The rusted blood corroded it still.
My host took up a paper spill
From a heap which lay in an earthen bowl,
And lighted it at a burning coal.
At either end of the table, tall
Wax candles were placed, each in a small,
And slim, and burnished candlestick
Of pewter. The old man lit each wick,
And the room leapt more obviously
Upon my mind, and I could see
What the flickering fire had hid from me.
Above the chimney's yawning throat,
Shoulder high, like the dark wainscote,
Was a mantelshelf of polished oak
Blackened with the pungent smoke
Of firelit nights; a Cromwell clock
Of tarnished brass stood like a rock
In the midst of a heaving, turbulent sea
Of every sort of cutlery.
There lay knives sharpened to any use,
The keenest lancet, and the obtuse
And blunted pruning bill-hook; blades
Of razors, scalpels, shears; cascades
Of penknives, with handles of mother-of-pearl,
And scythes, and sickles, and scissors; a whirl
Of points and edges, and underneath
Shot the gleam of a saw with bristling teeth.
My head grew dizzy, I seemed to hear
A battle-cry from somewhere near,
The clash of arms, and the squeal of balls,
And the echoless thud when a dead man falls.
A smoky cloud had veiled the room,
Shot through with lurid glares; the gloom
Pounded with shouts and dying groans,
With the drip of blood on cold, hard stones.
Sabres and lances in streaks of light
Gleamed through the smoke, and at my right
A creese, like a licking serpent's tongue,
Glittered an instant, while it stung.
Streams, and points, and lines of fire!
The livid steel, which man's desire
Had forged and welded, burned white and cold.
Every blade which man could mould,
Which could cut, or slash, or cleave, or rip,
Or pierce, or thrust, or carve, or strip,
Or gash, or chop, or puncture, or tear,
Or slice, or hack, they all were there.
Nerveless and shaking, round and round,
I stared at the walls and at the ground,
Till the room spun like a whipping top,
And a stern voice in my ear said, "Stop!
I sell no tools for murderers here.
Of what are you thinking! Please clear
Your mind of such imaginings.
Sit down. I will tell you of these things."

He pushed me into a great chair
Of russet leather, poked a flare
Of tumbling flame, with the old long sword,
Up the chimney; but said no word.
Slowly he walked to a distant shelf,
And brought back a crock of finest delf.
He rested a moment a blue-veined hand
Upon the cover, then cut a band
Of paper, pasted neatly round,
Opened and poured. A sliding sound
Came from beneath his old white hands,
And I saw a little heap of sands,
Black and smooth. What could they be:
"Pepper," I thought. He looked at me.
"What you see is poppy seed.
Lethean dreams for those in need."
He took up the grains with a gentle hand
And sifted them slowly like hour-glass sand.
On his old white finger the almandine
Shot out its rays, incarnadine.
"Visions for those too tired to sleep.
These seeds cast a film over eyes which weep.
No single soul in the world could dwell,
Without these poppy-seeds I sell."
For a moment he played with the shining stuff,
Passing it through his fingers. Enough
At last, he poured it back into
The china jar of Holland blue,
Which he carefully carried to its place.
Then, with a smile on his aged face,
He drew up a chair to the open space
'Twixt table and chimney. "Without preface,
Young man, I will say that what you see
Is not the puzzle you take it to be."
"But surely, Sir, there is something strange
In a shop with goods at so wide a range
Each from the other, as swords and seeds.
Your neighbours must have greatly differing needs."
"My neighbours," he said, and he stroked his chin,
"Live everywhere from here to Pekin.
But you are wrong, my sort of goods
Is but one thing in all its moods."
He took a shagreen letter case
From his pocket, and with charming grace
Offered me a printed card.
I read the legend, "Ephraim Bard.
Dealer in Words." And that was all.
I stared at the letters, whimsical
Indeed, or was it merely a jest.
He answered my unasked request:
"All books are either dreams or swords,
You can cut, or you can drug, with words.
My firm is a very ancient house,
The entries on my books would rouse
Your wonder, perhaps incredulity.
I inherited from an ancestry
Stretching remotely back and far,
This business, and my clients are
As were those of my grandfather's days,
Writers of books, and poems, and plays.
My swords are tempered for every speech,
For fencing wit, or to carve a breach
Through old abuses the world condones.
In another room are my grindstones and hones,
For whetting razors and putting a point
On daggers, sometimes I even anoint
The blades with a subtle poison, so
A twofold result may follow the blow.
These are purchased by men who feel
The need of stabbing society's heel,
Which egotism has brought them to think
Is set on their necks. I have foils to pink
An adversary to quaint reply,
And I have customers who buy
Scalpels with which to dissect the brains
And hearts of men. Ultramundanes
Even demand some finer kinds
To open their own souls and minds.
But the other half of my business deals
With visions and fancies. Under seals,
Sorted, and placed in vessels here,
I keep the seeds of an atmosphere.
Each jar contains a different kind
Of poppy seed. From farthest Ind
Come the purple flowers, opium filled,
From which the weirdest myths are distilled;
My orient porcelains contain them all.
Those Lowestoft pitchers against the wall
Hold a lighter kind of bright conceit;
And those old Saxe vases, out of the heat
On that lowest shelf beside the door,
Have a sort of Ideal, "couleur d'or".
Every castle of the air
Sleeps in the fine black grains, and there
Are seeds for every romance, or light
Whiff of a dream for a summer night.
I supply to every want and taste."
'Twas slowly said, in no great haste
He seemed to push his wares, but I
Dumfounded listened. By and by
A log on the fire broke in two.
He looked up quickly, "Sir, and you?"
I groped for something I should say;
Amazement held me numb. "To-day
You sweated at a fruitless task."
He spoke for me, "What do you ask?
How can I serve you?" "My kind host,
My penniless state was not a boast;
I have no money with me." He smiled.
"Not for that money I beguiled
You here; you paid me in advance."
Again I felt as though a trance
Had dimmed my faculties. Again
He spoke, and this time to explain.
"The money I demand is Life,
Your nervous force, your joy, your strife!"
What infamous proposal now
Was made me with so calm a brow?
Bursting through my lethargy,
Indignantly I hurled the cry:
"Is this a nightmare, or am I
Drunk with some infernal wine?
I am no Faust, and what is mine
Is what I call my soul! Old Man!
Devil or Ghost! Your hellish plan
Revolts me. Let me go." "My child,"
And the old tones were very mild,
"I have no wish to barter souls;
My traffic does not ask such tolls.
I am no devil; is there one?
Surely the age of fear is gone.
We live within a daylight world
Lit by the sun, where winds unfurled
Sweep clouds to scatter pattering rain,
And then blow back the sun again.
I sell my fancies, or my swords,
To those who care far more for words,
Ideas, of which they are the sign,
Than any other life-design.
Who buy of me must simply pay
Their whole existence quite away:
Their strength, their manhood, and their prime,
Their hours from morning till the time
When evening comes on tiptoe feet,
And losing life, think it complete;
Must miss what other men count being,
To gain the gift of deeper seeing;
Must spurn all ease, all hindering love,
All which could hold or bind; must prove
The farthest boundaries of thought,
And shun no end which these have brought;
Then die in satisfaction, knowing
That what was sown was worth the sowing.
I claim for all the goods I sell
That they will serve their purpose well,
And though you perish, they will live.
Full measure for your pay I give.
To-day you worked, you thought, in vain.
What since has happened is the train
Your toiling brought. I spoke to you
For my share of the bargain, due."
"My life! And is that all you crave
In pay? What even childhood gave!
I have been dedicate from youth.
Before my God I speak the truth!"
Fatigue, excitement of the past
Few hours broke me down at last.
All day I had forgot to eat,
My nerves betrayed me, lacking meat.
I bowed my head and felt the storm
Plough shattering through my prostrate form.
The tearless sobs tore at my heart.
My host withdrew himself apart;
Busied among his crockery,
He paid no farther heed to me.
Exhausted, spent, I huddled there,
Within the arms of the old carved chair.

A long half-hour dragged away,
And then I heard a kind voice say,
"The day will soon be dawning, when
You must begin to work again.
Here are the things which you require."
By the fading light of the dying fire,
And by the guttering candle's flare,
I saw the old man standing there.
He handed me a packet, tied
With crimson tape, and sealed. "Inside
Are seeds of many differing flowers,
To occupy your utmost powers
Of storied vision, and these swords
Are the finest which my shop affords.
Go home and use them; do not spare
Yourself; let that be all your care.
Whatever you have means to buy
Be very sure I can supply."
He slowly walked to the window, flung
It open, and in the grey air rung
The sound of distant matin bells.
I took my parcels. Then, as tells
An ancient mumbling monk his beads,
I tried to thank for his courteous deeds
My strange old friend. "Nay, do not talk,"
He urged me, "you have a long walk
Before you. Good-by and Good-day!"
And gently sped upon my way
I stumbled out in the morning hush,
As down the empty street a flush
Ran level from the rising sun.
Another day was just begun.

Sword Blades

The Captured Goddess

Over the housetops,
Above the rotating chimney-pots,
I have seen a shiver of amethyst,
And blue and cinnamon have flickered
A moment,
At the far end of a dusty street.

Through sheeted rain
Has come a lustre of crimson,
And I have watched moonbeams
Hushed by a film of palest green.

It was her wings,
Who stepped over the clouds,
And laid her rainbow feathers
Aslant on the currents of the air.

I followed her for long,
With gazing eyes and stumbling feet.
I cared not where she led me,
My eyes were full of colours:
Saffrons, rubies, the yellows of beryls,
And the indigo-blue of quartz;
Flights of rose, layers of chrysoprase,
Points of orange, spirals of vermilion,
The spotted gold of tiger-lily petals,
The loud pink of bursting hydrangeas.
I followed,
And watched for the flashing of her wings.

In the city I found her,
The narrow-streeted city.
In the market-place I came upon her,
Bound and trembling.
Her fluted wings were fastened to her sides with cords,
She was naked and cold,
For that day the wind blew
Without sunshine.

Men chaffered for her,
They bargained in silver and gold,
In copper, in wheat,
And called their bids across the market-place.

The Goddess wept.

Hiding my face I fled,
And the grey wind hissed behind me,
Along the narrow streets.

The Precinct. Rochester

The tall yellow hollyhocks stand,
Still and straight,
With their round blossoms spread open,
In the quiet sunshine.
And still is the old Roman wall,
Rough with jagged bits of flint,
And jutting stones,
Old and cragged,
Quite still in its antiquity.
The pear-trees press their branches against it,
And feeling it warm and kindly,
The little pears ripen to yellow and red.
They hang heavy, bursting with juice,
Against the wall.
So old, so still!

The sky is still.
The clouds make no sound
As they slide away
Beyond the Cathedral Tower,
To the river,
And the sea.
It is very quiet,
Very sunny.
The myrtle flowers stretch themselves in the sunshine,
But make no sound.
The roses push their little tendrils up,
And climb higher and higher.
In spots they have climbed over the wall.
But they are very still,
They do not seem to move.
And the old wall carries them
Without effort, and quietly
Ripens and shields the vines and blossoms.

A bird in a plane-tree
Sings a few notes,
Cadenced and perfect
They weave into the silence.
The Cathedral bell knocks,
One, two, three, and again,
And then again.
It is a quiet sound,
Calling to prayer,
Hardly scattering the stillness,
Only making it close in more densely.
The gardener picks ripe gooseberries
For the Dean's supper to-night.
It is very quiet,
Very regulated and mellow.
But the wall is old,
It has known many days.
It is a Roman wall,
Left-over and forgotten.

Beyond the Cathedral Close
Yelp and mutter the discontents of people not mellow,
Not well-regulated.
People who care more for bread than for beauty,
Who would break the tombs of saints,
And give the painted windows of churches
To their children for toys.
People who say:
"They are dead, we live!
The world is for the living."

Fools! It is always the dead who breed.
Crush the ripe fruit, and cast it aside,
Yet its seeds shall fructify,
And trees rise where your huts were standing.
But the little people are ignorant,
They chaffer, and swarm.
They gnaw like rats,
And the foundations of the Cathedral are honeycombed.

The Dean is in the Chapter House;
He is reading the architect's bill
For the completed restoration of the Cathedral.
He will have ripe gooseberries for supper,
And then he will walk up and down the path
By the wall,
And admire the snapdragons and dahlias,
Thinking how quiet and peaceful
The garden is.
The old wall will watch him,
Very quietly and patiently it will watch.
For the wall is old,
It is a Roman wall.

The Cyclists

Spread on the roadway,
With open-blown jackets,
Like black, soaring pinions,
They swoop down the hillside,
The Cyclists.

Seeming dark-plumaged
Birds, after carrion,
Careening and circling,
Over the dying
Of England.

She lies with her bosom
Beneath them, no longer
The Dominant Mother,
The Virile -- but rotting
Before time.

The smell of her, tainted,
Has bitten their nostrils.
Exultant they hover,
And shadow the sun with

Sunshine through a Cobwebbed Window

What charm is yours, you faded old-world tapestries,
Of outworn, childish mysteries,
Vague pageants woven on a web of dream!
And we, pushing and fighting in the turbid stream
Of modern life, find solace in your tarnished broideries.

Old lichened halls, sun-shaded by huge cedar-trees,
The layered branches horizontal stretched, like Japanese
Dark-banded prints. Carven cathedrals, on a sky
Of faintest colour, where the gothic spires fly
And sway like masts, against a shifting breeze.

Worm-eaten pages, clasped in old brown vellum, shrunk
From over-handling, by some anxious monk.
Or Virgin's Hours, bright with gold and graven
With flowers, and rare birds, and all the Saints of Heaven,
And Noah's ark stuck on Ararat, when all the world had sunk.

They soothe us like a song, heard in a garden, sung
By youthful minstrels, on the moonlight flung
In cadences and falls, to ease a queen,
Widowed and childless, cowering in a screen
Of myrtles, whose life hangs with all its threads unstrung.

A London Thoroughfare. 2 A.M.

They have watered the street,
It shines in the glare of lamps,
Cold, white lamps,
And lies
Like a slow-moving river,
Barred with silver and black.
Cabs go down it,
And then another.
Between them I hear the shuffling of feet.
Tramps doze on the window-ledges,
Night-walkers pass along the sidewalks.
The city is squalid and sinister,
With the silver-barred street in the midst,
A river leading nowhere.

Opposite my window,
The moon cuts,
Clear and round,
Through the plum-coloured night.
She cannot light the city;
It is too bright.
It has white lamps,
And glitters coldly.

I stand in the window and watch the moon.
She is thin and lustreless,
But I love her.
I know the moon,
And this is an alien city.


To Ezra Pound

With much friendship and admiration and some differences of opinion

The Poet took his walking-stick
Of fine and polished ebony.
Set in the close-grained wood
Were quaint devices;
Patterns in ambers,
And in the clouded green of jades.
The top was of smooth, yellow ivory,
And a tassel of tarnished gold
Hung by a faded cord from a hole
Pierced in the hard wood,
Circled with silver.
For years the Poet had wrought upon this cane.
His wealth had gone to enrich it,
His experiences to pattern it,
His labour to fashion and burnish it.
To him it was perfect,
A work of art and a weapon,
A delight and a defence.
The Poet took his walking-stick
And walked abroad.

Peace be with you, Brother.

The Poet came to a meadow.
Sifted through the grass were daisies,
Open-mouthed, wondering, they gazed at the sun.
The Poet struck them with his cane.
The little heads flew off, and they lay
Dying, open-mouthed and wondering,
On the hard ground.
"They are useless. They are not roses," said the Poet.

Peace be with you, Brother. Go your ways.

The Poet came to a stream.
Purple and blue flags waded in the water;
In among them hopped the speckled frogs;
The wind slid through them, rustling.
The Poet lifted his cane,
And the iris heads fell into the water.
They floated away, torn and drowning.
"Wretched flowers," said the Poet,
"They are not roses."

Peace be with you, Brother. It is your affair.

The Poet came to a garden.
Dahlias ripened against a wall,
Gillyflowers stood up bravely for all their short stature,
And a trumpet-vine covered an arbour
With the red and gold of its blossoms.
Red and gold like the brass notes of trumpets.
The Poet knocked off the stiff heads of the dahlias,
And his cane lopped the gillyflowers at the ground.
Then he severed the trumpet-blossoms from their stems.
Red and gold they lay scattered,
Red and gold, as on a battle field;
Red and gold, prone and dying.
"They were not roses," said the Poet.

Peace be with you, Brother.
But behind you is destruction, and waste places.

The Poet came home at evening,
And in the candle-light
He wiped and polished his cane.
The orange candle flame leaped in the yellow ambers,
And made the jades undulate like green pools.
It played along the bright ebony,
And glowed in the top of cream-coloured ivory.
But these things were dead,
Only the candle-light made them seem to move.
"It is a pity there were no roses," said the Poet.

Peace be with you, Brother. You have chosen your part.

The Coal Picker

He perches in the slime, inert,
Bedaubed with iridescent dirt.
The oil upon the puddles dries
To colours like a peacock's eyes,
And half-submerged tomato-cans
Shine scaly, as leviathans
Oozily crawling through the mud.
The ground is here and there bestud
With lumps of only part-burned coal.
His duty is to glean the whole,
To pick them from the filth, each one,
To hoard them for the hidden sun
Which glows within each fiery core
And waits to be made free once more.
Their sharp and glistening edges cut
His stiffened fingers. Through the smut
Gleam red the wounds which will not shut.
Wet through and shivering he kneels
And digs the slippery coals; like eels
They slide about. His force all spent,
He counts his small accomplishment.
A half-a-dozen clinker-coals
Which still have fire in their souls.
Fire! And in his thought there burns
The topaz fire of votive urns.
He sees it fling from hill to hill,
And still consumed, is burning still.
Higher and higher leaps the flame,
The smoke an ever-shifting frame.
He sees a Spanish Castle old,
With silver steps and paths of gold.
From myrtle bowers comes the plash
Of fountains, and the emerald flash
Of parrots in the orange trees,
Whose blossoms pasture humming bees.
He knows he feeds the urns whose smoke
Bears visions, that his master-stroke
Is out of dirt and misery
To light the fire of poesy.
He sees the glory, yet he knows
That others cannot see his shows.
To them his smoke is sightless, black,
His votive vessels but a pack
Of old discarded shards, his fire
A peddler's; still to him the pyre
Is incensed, an enduring goal!
He sighs and grubs another coal.


How should I sing when buffeting salt waves
And stung with bitter surges, in whose might
I toss, a cockleshell? The dreadful night
Marshals its undefeated dark and raves
In brutal madness, reeling over graves
Of vanquished men, long-sunken out of sight,
Sent wailing down to glut the ghoulish sprite
Who haunts foul seaweed forests and their caves.
No parting cloud reveals a watery star,
My cries are washed away upon the wind,
My cramped and blistering hands can find no spar,
My eyes with hope o'erstrained, are growing blind.
But painted on the sky great visions burn,
My voice, oblation from a shattered urn!


From out the dragging vastness of the sea,
Wave-fettered, bound in sinuous, seaweed strands,
He toils toward the rounding beach, and stands
One moment, white and dripping, silently,
Cut like a cameo in lazuli,
Then falls, betrayed by shifting shells, and lands
Prone in the jeering water, and his hands
Clutch for support where no support can be.
So up, and down, and forward, inch by inch,
He gains upon the shore, where poppies glow
And sandflies dance their little lives away.
The sucking waves retard, and tighter clinch
The weeds about him, but the land-winds blow,
And in the sky there blooms the sun of May.


Be patient with you?
When the stooping sky
Leans down upon the hills
And tenderly, as one who soothing stills
An anguish, gathers earth to lie
Embraced and girdled. Do the sun-filled men
Feel patience then?

Be patient with you?
When the snow-girt earth
Cracks to let through a spurt
Of sudden green, and from the muddy dirt
A snowdrop leaps, how mark its worth
To eyes frost-hardened, and do weary men
Feel patience then?

Be patient with you?
When pain's iron bars
Their rivets tighten, stern
To bend and break their victims; as they turn,
Hopeless, there stand the purple jars
Of night to spill oblivion. Do these men
Feel patience then?

Be patient with you?
You! My sun and moon!
My basketful of flowers!
My money-bag of shining dreams! My hours,
Windless and still, of afternoon!
You are my world and I your citizen.
What meaning can have patience then?


Be not angry with me that I bear
Your colours everywhere,
All through each crowded street,
And meet
The wonder-light in every eye,
As I go by.

Each plodding wayfarer looks up to gaze,
Blinded by rainbow haze,
The stuff of happiness,
No less,
Which wraps me in its glad-hued folds
Of peacock golds.

Before my feet the dusty, rough-paved way
Flushes beneath its gray.
My steps fall ringed with light,
So bright,
It seems a myriad suns are strown
About the town.

Around me is the sound of steepled bells,
And rich perfumed smells
Hang like a wind-forgotten cloud,
And shroud
Me from close contact with the world.
I dwell impearled.

You blazon me with jewelled insignia.
A flaming nebula
Rims in my life. And yet
You set
The word upon me, unconfessed
To go unguessed.

A Petition

I pray to be the tool which to your hand
Long use has shaped and moulded till it be
Apt for your need, and, unconsideringly,
You take it for its service. I demand
To be forgotten in the woven strand
Which grows the multi-coloured tapestry
Of your bright life, and through its tissues lie
A hidden, strong, sustaining, grey-toned band.
I wish to dwell around your daylight dreams,
The railing to the stairway of the clouds,
To guard your steps securely up, where streams
A faery moonshine washing pale the crowds
Of pointed stars. Remember not whereby
You mount, protected, to the far-flung sky.

A Blockhead

Before me lies a mass of shapeless days,
Unseparated atoms, and I must
Sort them apart and live them. Sifted dust
Covers the formless heap. Reprieves, delays,
There are none, ever. As a monk who prays
The sliding beads asunder, so I thrust
Each tasteless particle aside, and just
Begin again the task which never stays.
And I have known a glory of great suns,
When days flashed by, pulsing with joy and fire!
Drunk bubbled wine in goblets of desire,
And felt the whipped blood laughing as it runs!
Spilt is that liquor, my too hasty hand
Threw down the cup, and did not understand.


Dearest, forgive that with my clumsy touch
I broke and bruised your rose.
I hardly could suppose
It were a thing so fragile that my clutch
Could kill it, thus.

It stood so proudly up upon its stem,
I knew no thought of fear,
And coming very near
Fell, overbalanced, to your garment's hem,
Tearing it down.

Now, stooping, I upgather, one by one,
The crimson petals, all
Outspread about my fall.
They hold their fragrance still, a blood-red cone
Of memory.

And with my words I carve a little jar
To keep their scented dust,
Which, opening, you must
Breathe to your soul, and, breathing, know me far
More grieved than you.


An arid daylight shines along the beach
Dried to a grey monotony of tone,
And stranded jelly-fish melt soft upon
The sun-baked pebbles, far beyond their reach
Sparkles a wet, reviving sea. Here bleach
The skeletons of fishes, every bone
Polished and stark, like traceries of stone,
The joints and knuckles hardened each to each.
And they are dead while waiting for the sea,
The moon-pursuing sea, to come again.
Their hearts are blown away on the hot breeze.
Only the shells and stones can wait to be
Washed bright. For living things, who suffer pain,
May not endure till time can bring them ease.


Happiness, to some, elation;
Is, to others, mere stagnation.
Days of passive somnolence,
At its wildest, indolence.
Hours of empty quietness,
No delight, and no distress.

Happiness to me is wine,
Effervescent, superfine.
Full of tang and fiery pleasure,
Far too hot to leave me leisure
For a single thought beyond it.
Drunk! Forgetful! This the bond: it
Means to give one's soul to gain
Life's quintessence. Even pain
Pricks to livelier living, then
Wakes the nerves to laugh again,
Rapture's self is three parts sorrow.
Although we must die to-morrow,
Losing every thought but this;
Torn, triumphant, drowned in bliss.

Happiness: We rarely feel it.
I would buy it, beg it, steal it,
Pay in coins of dripping blood
For this one transcendent good.

The Last Quarter of the Moon

How long shall I tarnish the mirror of life,
A spatter of rust on its polished steel!
The seasons reel
Like a goaded wheel.
Half-numb, half-maddened, my days are strife.

The night is sliding towards the dawn,
And upturned hills crouch at autumn's knees.
A torn moon flees
Through the hemlock trees,
The hours have gnawed it to feed their spawn.

Pursuing and jeering the misshapen thing
A rabble of clouds flares out of the east.
Like dogs unleashed
After a beast,
They stream on the sky, an outflung string.

A desolate wind, through the unpeopled dark,
Shakes the bushes and whistles through empty nests,
And the fierce unrests
I keep as guests
Crowd my brain with corpses, pallid and stark.

Leave me in peace, O Spectres, who haunt
My labouring mind, I have fought and failed.
I have not quailed,
I was all unmailed
And naked I strove, 'tis my only vaunt.

The moon drops into the silver day
As waking out of her swoon she comes.
I hear the drums
Of millenniums
Beating the mornings I still must stay.

The years I must watch go in and out,
While I build with water, and dig in air,
And the trumpets blare
Hollow despair,
The shuddering trumpets of utter rout.

An atom tossed in a chaos made
Of yeasting worlds, which bubble and foam.
Whence have I come?
What would be home?
I hear no answer. I am afraid!

I crave to be lost like a wind-blown flame.
Pushed into nothingness by a breath,
And quench in a wreath
Of engulfing death
This fight for a God, or this devil's game.

A Tale of Starvation

There once was a man whom the gods didn't love,
And a disagreeable man was he.
He loathed his neighbours, and his neighbours hated him,
And he cursed eternally.

He damned the sun, and he damned the stars,
And he blasted the winds in the sky.
He sent to Hell every green, growing thing,
And he raved at the birds as they fly.

His oaths were many, and his range was wide,
He swore in fancy ways;
But his meaning was plain: that no created thing
Was other than a hurt to his gaze.

He dwelt all alone, underneath a leaning hill,
And windows toward the hill there were none,
And on the other side they were white-washed thick,
To keep out every spark of the sun.

When he went to market he walked all the way
Blaspheming at the path he trod.
He cursed at those he bought of, and swore at those he sold to,
By all the names he knew of God.

For his heart was soured in his weary old hide,
And his hopes had curdled in his breast.
His friend had been untrue, and his love had thrown him over
For the chinking money-bags she liked best.

The rats had devoured the contents of his grain-bin,
The deer had trampled on his corn,
His brook had shrivelled in a summer drought,
And his sheep had died unshorn.

His hens wouldn't lay, and his cow broke loose,
And his old horse perished of a colic.
In the loft his wheat-bags were nibbled into holes
By little, glutton mice on a frolic.

So he slowly lost all he ever had,
And the blood in his body dried.
Shrunken and mean he still lived on,
And cursed that future which had lied.

One day he was digging, a spade or two,
As his aching back could lift,
When he saw something glisten at the bottom of the trench,
And to get it out he made great shift.

So he dug, and he delved, with care and pain,
And the veins in his forehead stood taut.
At the end of an hour, when every bone cracked,
He gathered up what he had sought.

A dim old vase of crusted glass,
Prismed while it lay buried deep.
Shifting reds and greens, like a pigeon's neck,
At the touch of the sun began to leap.

It was dull in the tree-shade, but glowing in the light;
Flashing like an opal-stone,
Carved into a flagon; and the colours glanced and ran,
Where at first there had seemed to be none.

It had handles on each side to bear it up,
And a belly for the gurgling wine.
Its neck was slender, and its mouth was wide,
And its lip was curled and fine.

The old man saw it in the sun's bright stare
And the colours started up through the crust,
And he who had cursed at the yellow sun
Held the flask to it and wiped away the dust.

And he bore the flask to the brightest spot,
Where the shadow of the hill fell clear;
And he turned the flask, and he looked at the flask,
And the sun shone without his sneer.

Then he carried it home, and put it on a shelf,
But it was only grey in the gloom.
So he fetched a pail, and a bit of cloth,
And he went outside with a broom.

And he washed his windows just to let the sun
Lie upon his new-found vase;
And when evening came, he moved it down
And put it on a table near the place

Where a candle fluttered in a draught from the door.
The old man forgot to swear,
Watching its shadow grown a mammoth size,
Dancing in the kitchen there.

He forgot to revile the sun next morning
When he found his vase afire in its light.
And he carried it out of the house that day,
And kept it close beside him until night.

And so it happened from day to day.
The old man fed his life
On the beauty of his vase, on its perfect shape.
And his soul forgot its former strife.

And the village-folk came and begged to see
The flagon which was dug from the ground.
And the old man never thought of an oath, in his joy
At showing what he had found.

One day the master of the village school
Passed him as he stooped at toil,
Hoeing for a bean-row, and at his side
Was the vase, on the turned-up soil.

"My friend," said the schoolmaster, pompous and kind,
"That's a valuable thing you have there,
But it might get broken out of doors,
It should meet with the utmost care.

What are you doing with it out here?"
"Why, Sir," said the poor old man,
"I like to have it about, do you see?
To be with it all I can."

"You will smash it," said the schoolmaster, sternly right,
"Mark my words and see!"
And he walked away, while the old man looked
At his treasure despondingly.

Then he smiled to himself, for it was his!
He had toiled for it, and now he cared.
Yes! loved its shape, and its subtle, swift hues,
Which his own hard work had bared.

He would carry it round with him everywhere,
As it gave him joy to do.
A fragile vase should not stand in a bean-row!
Who would dare to say so? Who?

Then his heart was rested, and his fears gave way,
And he bent to his hoe again. . . .
A clod rolled down, and his foot slipped back,
And he lurched with a cry of pain.

For the blade of the hoe crashed into glass,
And the vase fell to iridescent sherds.
The old man's body heaved with slow, dry sobs.
He did not curse, he had no words.

He gathered the fragments, one by one,
And his fingers were cut and torn.
Then he made a hole in the very place
Whence the beautiful vase had been borne.

He covered the hole, and he patted it down,
Then he hobbled to his house and shut the door.
He tore up his coat and nailed it at the windows
That no beam of light should cross the floor.

He sat down in front of the empty hearth,
And he neither ate nor drank.
In three days they found him, dead and cold,
And they said: "What a queer old crank!"

The Foreigner

Have at you, you Devils!
My back's to this tree,
For you're nothing so nice
That the hind-side of me
Would escape your assault.
Come on now, all three!

Here's a dandified gentleman,
Rapier at point,
And a wrist which whirls round
Like a circular joint.
A spatter of blood, man!
That's just to anoint

And make supple your limbs.
'Tis a pity the silk
Of your waistcoat is stained.
Why! Your heart's full of milk,
And so full, it spills over!
I'm not of your ilk.

You said so, and laughed
At my old-fashioned hose,
At the cut of my hair,
At the length of my nose.
To carve it to pattern
I think you propose.

Your pardon, young Sir,
But my nose and my sword
Are proving themselves
In quite perfect accord.
I grieve to have spotted
Your shirt. On my word!

And hullo! You Bully!
That blade's not a stick
To slash right and left,
And my skull is too thick
To be cleft with such cuffs
Of a sword. Now a lick

Down the side of your face.
What a pretty, red line!
Tell the taverns that scar
Was an honour. Don't whine
That a stranger has marked you.
* * * * *
The tree's there, You Swine!

Did you think to get in
At the back, while your friends
Made a little diversion
In front? So it ends,
With your sword clattering down
On the ground. 'Tis amends

I make for your courteous
Reception of me,
A foreigner, landed
From over the sea.
Your welcome was fervent
I think you'll agree.

My shoes are not buckled
With gold, nor my hair
Oiled and scented, my jacket's
Not satin, I wear
Corded breeches, wide hats,
And I make people stare!

So I do, but my heart
Is the heart of a man,
And my thoughts cannot twirl
In the limited span
'Twixt my head and my heels,
As some other men's can.

I have business more strange
Than the shape of my boots,
And my interests range
From the sky, to the roots
Of this dung-hill you live in,
You half-rotted shoots

Of a mouldering tree!
Here's at you, once more.
You Apes! You Jack-fools!
You can show me the door,
And jeer at my ways,
But you're pinked to the core.

And before I have done,
I will prick my name in
With the front of my steel,
And your lily-white skin
Shall be printed with me.
For I've come here to win!


My cup is empty to-night,
Cold and dry are its sides,
Chilled by the wind from the open window.
Empty and void, it sparkles white in the moonlight.
The room is filled with the strange scent
Of wistaria blossoms.
They sway in the moon's radiance
And tap against the wall.
But the cup of my heart is still,
And cold, and empty.

When you come, it brims
Red and trembling with blood,
Heart's blood for your drinking;
To fill your mouth with love
And the bitter-sweet taste of a soul.

A Gift

See! I give myself to you, Beloved!
My words are little jars
For you to take and put upon a shelf.
Their shapes are quaint and beautiful,
And they have many pleasant colours and lustres
To recommend them.
Also the scent from them fills the room
With sweetness of flowers and crushed grasses.

When I shall have given you the last one,
You will have the whole of me,
But I shall be dead.

The Bungler

You glow in my heart
Like the flames of uncounted candles.
But when I go to warm my hands,
My clumsiness overturns the light,
And then I stumble
Against the tables and chairs.

Fool's Money Bags

Outside the long window,
With his head on the stone sill,
The dog is lying,
Gazing at his Beloved.
His eyes are wet and urgent,
And his body is taut and shaking.
It is cold on the terrace;
A pale wind licks along the stone slabs,
But the dog gazes through the glass
And is content.

The Beloved is writing a letter.
Occasionally she speaks to the dog,
But she is thinking of her writing.
Does she, too, give her devotion to one
Not worthy?

Miscast I

I have whetted my brain until it is like a Damascus blade,
So keen that it nicks off the floating fringes of passers-by,
So sharp that the air would turn its edge
Were it to be twisted in flight.
Licking passions have bitten their arabesques into it,
And the mark of them lies, in and out,
With the beauty of corroded copper patterning white steel.
My brain is curved like a scimitar,
And sighs at its cutting
Like a sickle mowing grass.

But of what use is all this to me!
I, who am set to crack stones
In a country lane!

Miscast II

My heart is like a cleft pomegranate
Bleeding crimson seeds
And dripping them on the ground.
My heart gapes because it is ripe and over-full,
And its seeds are bursting from it.

But how is this other than a torment to me!
I, who am shut up, with broken crockery,
In a dark closet!


I have been temperate always,
But I am like to be very drunk
With your coming.
There have been times
I feared to walk down the street
Lest I should reel with the wine of you,
And jerk against my neighbours
As they go by.
I am parched now, and my tongue is horrible in my mouth,
But my brain is noisy
With the clash and gurgle of filling wine-cups.


I will mix me a drink of stars, --
Large stars with polychrome needles,
Small stars jetting maroon and crimson,
Cool, quiet, green stars.
I will tear them out of the sky,
And squeeze them over an old silver cup,
And I will pour the cold scorn of my Beloved into it,
So that my drink shall be bubbled with ice.

It will lap and scratch
As I swallow it down;
And I shall feel it as a serpent of fire,
Coiling and twisting in my belly.
His snortings will rise to my head,
And I shall be hot, and laugh,
Forgetting that I have ever known a woman.

The Tree of Scarlet Berries

The rain gullies the garden paths
And tinkles on the broad sides of grass blades.
A tree, at the end of my arm, is hazy with mist.
Even so, I can see that it has red berries,
A scarlet fruit,
Filmed over with moisture.
It seems as though the rain,
Dripping from it,
Should be tinged with colour.
I desire the berries,
But, in the mist, I only scratch my hand on the thorns.
Probably, too, they are bitter.


Hold your apron wide
That I may pour my gifts into it,
So that scarcely shall your two arms hinder them
From falling to the ground.

I would pour them upon you
And cover you,
For greatly do I feel this need
Of giving you something,
Even these poor things.

Dearest of my Heart!

The Taxi

When I go away from you
The world beats dead
Like a slackened drum.
I call out for you against the jutted stars
And shout into the ridges of the wind.
Streets coming fast,
One after the other,
Wedge you away from me,
And the lamps of the city prick my eyes
So that I can no longer see your face.
Why should I leave you,
To wound myself upon the sharp edges of the night?

The Giver of Stars

Hold your soul open for my welcoming.
Let the quiet of your spirit bathe me
With its clear and rippled coolness,
That, loose-limbed and weary, I find rest,
Outstretched upon your peace, as on a bed of ivory.

Let the flickering flame of your soul play all about me,
That into my limbs may come the keenness of fire,
The life and joy of tongues of flame,
And, going out from you, tightly strung and in tune,
I may rouse the blear-eyed world,
And pour into it the beauty which you have begotten.

The Temple

Between us leapt a gold and scarlet flame.
Into the hollow of the cupped, arched blue
Of Heaven it rose. Its flickering tongues up-drew
And vanished in the sunshine. How it came
We guessed not, nor what thing could be its name.
From each to each had sprung those sparks which flew
Together into fire. But we knew
The winds would slap and quench it in their game.
And so we graved and fashioned marble blocks
To treasure it, and placed them round about.
With pillared porticos we wreathed the whole,
And roofed it with bright bronze. Behind carved locks
Flowered the tall and sheltered flame. Without,
The baffled winds thrust at a column's bole.

Epitaph of a Young Poet Who Died Before Having Achieved Success

Beneath this sod lie the remains
Of one who died of growing pains.

In Answer to a Request

You ask me for a sonnet. Ah, my Dear,
Can clocks tick back to yesterday at noon?
Can cracked and fallen leaves recall last June
And leap up on the boughs, now stiff and sere?

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