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The Collected Poems of Rupert Brooke by Rupert Brooke [British Poet -- 1887-1915.]

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The Collected Poems of Rupert Brooke
by Rupert Brooke [British Poet -- 1887-1915.]

[Note on text: Italicized stanzas will be indented 5 spaces.
Stanzas that are italicized AND indented will be indented 10 spaces.
Italicized words or phrases will be capitalised.
Lines longer than 75 characters have been broken,
and the continuation is indented two spaces. This etext was transcribed
from the 1915 edition of Rupert Brooke's collected poems.]

[A new Appendix is included in this etext, consisting of poems
ABOUT or TO Rupert Brooke.]

The Collected Poems of Rupert Brooke

Born at Rugby, August 3, 1887
Fellow of King's College, Cambridge, 1913
Sub-Lieutenant, R.N.V.R., September, 1914
Antwerp Expedition, October, 1914
Sailed with British Mediterranean Expeditionary Force, February 28, 1915
Died in the Aegean, April 23, 1915

The Collected Poems of Rupert Brooke
with an introduction by George Edward Woodberry
and a biographical note by Margaret Lavington



Rupert Brooke was both fair to see and winning in his ways. There was
at the first contact both bloom and charm; and most of all there was life.
To use the word his friends describe him by, he was "vivid".
This vitality, though manifold in expression, is felt primarily
in his sensations -- surprise mingled with delight --

"One after one, like tasting a sweet food."

This is life's "first fine rapture". It makes him patient to
name over those myriad things (each of which seems like a fresh discovery)
curious but potent, and above all common, that he "loved", --
he the "Great Lover". Lover of what, then? Why, of

"White plates and cups clean-gleaming,
Ringed with blue lines," --

and the like, through thirty lines of exquisite words; and he is captivated
by the multiple brevity of these vignettes of sense, keen, momentary,
ecstatic with the morning dip of youth in the wonderful stream.
The poem is a catalogue of vital sensations and "dear names" as well.
"All these have been my loves."

The spring of these emotions is the natural body, but it sends pulsations
far into the spirit. The feeling rises in direct observation,
but it is soon aware of the "outlets of the sky".
He sees objects practically unrelated, and links them in strings;
or he sees them pictorially; or, he sees pictures immersed as it were
in an atmosphere of thought. When the process is complete,
the thought suggests the picture and is its origin.
Then the Great Lover revisits the bottom of the monstrous world,
and imaginatively and thoughtfully recreates that strange under-sea,
whose glooms and gleams and muds are well known to him as
a strong and delighted swimmer; or, at the last, drifts through the dream
of a South Sea lagoon, still with a philosophical question in his mouth.
Yet one can hardly speak of "completion". These are real first flights.
What we have in this volume is not so much a work of art
as an artist in his birth trying the wings of genius.

The poet loves his new-found element. He clings to mortality;
to life, not thought; or, as he puts it, to the concrete, --
let the abstract "go pack!" "There's little comfort in the wise," he ends.
But in the unfolding of his precocious spirit, the literary control
comes uppermost; his boat, finding its keel, swings to the helm of mind.
How should it be otherwise for a youth well-born, well-bred,
in college air? Intellectual primacy showed itself to him
in many wandering "loves", fine lover that he was; but in the end
he was an intellectual lover, and the magnet seems to have been
especially powerful in the ghosts of the men of "wit", Donne, Marvell --
erudite lords of language, poets in another world than ours,
a less "ample ether", a less "divine air", our fathers thought,
but poets of "eternity". A quintessential drop of intellect
is apt to be in poetic blood. How Platonism fascinates the poets,
like a shining bait! Rupert Brooke will have none of it;
but at a turn of the verse he is back at it, examining, tasting, refusing.
In those alternate drives of the thought in his South Sea idyl
(clever as tennis play) how he slips from phenomenon to idea and reverses,
happy with either, it seems, "were t'other dear charmer away".
How bravely he tries to free himself from the cling of earth,
at the close of the "Great Lover"! How little he succeeds!
His muse knew only earthly tongues, -- so far as he understood.

Why this persistent cling to mortality, -- with its quick-coming cry
against death and its heaped anathemas on the transformations of decay?
It is the old story once more: -- the vision of the first poets,
the world that "passes away". The poetic eye of Keats saw it, --

"Beauty that must die,
And Joy whose hand is ever at his lips
Bidding adieu."

The reflective mind of Arnold meditated it, --

"the world that seems
To lie before us like a land of dreams,
So various, so beautiful, so new,
Hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light,
Nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain." --

So Rupert Brooke, --

"But the best I've known,
Stays here, and changes, breaks, grows old, is blown
About the winds of the world, and fades from brains
Of living men, and dies.
Nothing remains."

And yet, --

"Oh, never a doubt but somewhere I shall wake;"

again, --

"the light,
Returning, shall give back the golden hours,
Ocean a windless level. . . ."

again, best of all, in the last word, --

"Still may Time hold some golden space
Where I'll unpack that scented store
Of song and flower and sky and face,
And count, and touch, and turn them o'er,
Musing upon them."

He cannot forego his sensations, that "box of compacted sweets".
He even forefeels a ghostly landscape where two shall go wandering
through the night, "alone". So the faith that broke its chrysalis
in the first disillusionment of boyhood, in "Second Best",
beautiful with the burden of Greek lyricism, ends triumphant
with the spirit still unsubdued. --

"Proud, then, clear-eyed and laughing, go to greet
Death as a friend."

So go, "with unreluctant tread". But in the disillusionment of beauty
and of love there is an older tone. With what bitter savor, with what
grossness of diction, caught from the Elizabethan and satirical elements
in his culture, he spends anger in words! He reacts, he rebels, he storms.
A dozen poems hardly exhaust his gall. It is not merely
that beauty and joy and love are transient, now, but in their going
they are corrupted into their opposites, -- ugliness, pain, indifference.
And his anger once stilled by speech, what lassitude follows!

Life, in this volume, is hardly less evident by its ecstasy
than by its collapse. It is a book of youth, sensitive, vigorous, sound;
but it is the fruit of intensity, and bears the traits.
The search for solitude, the relief from crowds, the open door into nature;
the sense of flight and escape; the repeated thought of safety,
the insistent fatigue, the cry for sleep; -- all these bear confession
in their faces. "Flight", "Town and Country", "The Voice", are eloquent
of what they leave untold; and the climax of "Retrospect", --

"And I should sleep, and I should sleep," --

or the sestet of "Waikiki", or the whole fainting sonnet
entitled "A Memory", belong to the nadir of vitality. At moments
weariness set in like a spiritual tide. I associate, too, with such moods,
psychologically at least, his visions of the "arrested moment", as in
"Dining-Room Tea", -- a sort of trance state -- or in the pendant sonnet.
Analogous moods are not infrequent in the great poets. Rupert Brooke
seems to have faltered, nervously, at times; these poems mirror faithfully
such moments. But even when the image of life, imaginative or real,
falters so, how essentially vital it still is, and clothed in an exquisite
body of words like the traditional "rainbow hues of the dying fish"!
For I cannot express too strongly my admiration of the literary sense
of this young poet, and my delight in it. "All these have been my loves,"
he says, if I may repeat the phrase; but he seems to have loved the words,
as much as the things, -- "dear names", he adds. The born man of letters
speaks there. So, when his pulse is at its lowest,
he cannot forget the beautiful surface of his South Sea idyls
or of versified English gardens and lanes. He cared as much
for the expression as for the thing, which is what makes a man of letters.
So fixed is this habit that his art, truly, is independent
of his bodily state. In his poems of "collapse" as in those of "ecstasy"
he seems to me equally master of his mood, -- like those poets who are
"for all time". His literary skill in verse was ripe, how long so ever
he might have to live.


To come, then, to art, which is above personality, what of that? Art is,
at most, but the mortal relic of genius; yet it is true of it that,
like Ozymandias' statue, "nothing beside remains". Rupert Brooke was
already perfected in verbal and stylistic execution. He might have grown
in variety, richness and significance, in scope and in detail, no doubt;
but as an artisan in metrical words and pauses, he was past apprenticeship.
He was still a restless experimenter, but in much he was a master.
In the brief stroke of description, which he inherited from
his early attachment to the concrete; in the rush of words,
especially verbs; in the concatenation of objects, the flow of things
`en masse' through his verse, still with the impulse of "the bright speed"
he had at the source; in his theatrical impersonation of abstractions,
as in "The Funeral of Youth", where for once the abstract and the concrete
are happily fused; -- in all these there are the elements, and in the last
there is the perfection, of mastery. For one thing, he knew how to end.
It is with him a dramatic secret. The brief stroke does this work
time and time again in his verse, nowhere better than in
"at dead YOUTH's funeral:" all were there, --

"All, except only LOVE -- LOVE had died long ago."

The poem is like a vision of an old time MASQUE: --

"The sweet lad RHYME" ----
"ARDOUR, the sunlight on his greying hair" ----
"BEAUTY . . . pale in her black; dry-eyed, she stood alone."

How vivid! The lines owe something to his eye for costume, for staging;
but, as mere picture writing, it is as firm as if carved on an obelisk.
And as he reconciled concrete and abstract here, so he had left
his short breath, in those earlier lines, behind, and had come into
the long sweep and open water of great style: --

"And light on waving grass, he knows not when,
And feet that ran, but where, he cannot tell."

Or; --

"And feel, who have laid our groping hands away;
And see, no longer blinded by our eyes,"

Or, more briefly, --

"In wise majestic melancholy train."

And this, --

"And evening hush broken by homing wings,"

Such lines as these, apart from their beauty, are in the best manner
of English poetic style. So, in many minor ways, he shuffled
contrast and climax, and the like, adept in the handling
of poetic rhetoric that he had come to be; but in three ways
he was conspicuously successful in his art.

The first of these -- they are all in the larger forms of art --
is the dramatic sonnet, by which I do not mean merely
a sonnet in dialogue or advancing by simple contrast;
but one in which there may be these things, but also there is
a tragic reversal or its equivalent. Not to consider it too curiously,
take "The Hill". This sonnet is beautiful in action and diction;
its eloquence speeds it on with a lift; the situation is
the very crest of life; then, --

"We shall go down with unreluctant tread,
Rose-crowned into the darkness! . . . Proud we were,
And laughed, that had such brave true things to say.
-- And then you suddenly cried and turned away."

The dramatic sonnet in English has not gone beyond that, for beauty,
for brevity, for tragic effect, -- nor, I add, for unspoken loyalty
to reality. Reality was, perhaps, what he most dearly wished for;
here he achieved it. In many another sonnet he won the laurel;
but if I were to venture to choose, it is in the dramatic handling
of the sonnet that he is most individual and characteristic.

The second great success of his genius, formally considered,
lay in the narrative idyl, either in the Miltonic way of flashing bits
of English country landscape before the eye, as in "Grantchester",
or by applying essentially the same method to the water world of fishes
or the South Sea world, both on a philosophic background.
These are all master poems of a kaleidoscopic beauty and charm,
where the brief pictures play in and out of a woven veil of thought,
irony, mood, with a delightful intellectual pleasuring.
He thoroughly enjoys doing the poetical magic. Such bits of
English retreats or Pacific paradises, so full of idyllic charm,
exquisite in image and movement, are among the rarest of poetic treasures.
The thought of Milton and of Marvell only adds an old world charm
to the most modern of the works of the Muses. What lightness of touch,
what ease of movement, what brilliancy of hue! What vivacity throughout!
Even in "Retrospect", what actuality!

And the third success is what I should call the "melange". That is,
the method of indiscrimination by which he gathers up experience,
and pours it out again in language, with full disregard
of its relative values. His good taste saves him from what in another
would be shipwreck, but this indifference to values, this apparent lack
of selection in material, while at times it gives a huddled flow,
more than anything else "modernizes" the verse. It yields, too,
an effect of abundant vitality, and it makes facile the change
from grave to gay and the like. The "melange", as I call it,
is rather an innovation in English verse, and to be found only rarely.
It exists, however; and especially it was dear to Keats in his youth.
It is by excellent taste, and by style, that the poet here overcomes
its early difficulties.

In these three formal ways, besides in minor matters, it appears to me
that Rupert Brooke, judged by the most orthodox standards,
had succeeded in poetry.


But in his first notes, if I may indulge my private taste,
I find more of the intoxication of the god. These early poems
are the lyrical cries and luminous flares of a dawn, no doubt;
but they are incarnate of youth. Capital among them is "Blue Evening".
It is original and complete. In its whispering embraces of sense,
in the terror of seizure of the spirit, in the tranquil euthanasia
of the end by the touch of speechless beauty, it seems to me a true symbol
of life whole and entire. It is beautiful in language and feeling,
with an extraordinary clarity and rise of power; and, above all,
though rare in experience, it is real. A young poet's poem;
but it has a quality never captured by perfect art. A poem for poets,
no doubt; but that is the best kind. So, too, the poem,
entitled "Sleeping Out", charms me and stirs me with
its golden clangors and crying flames of emotion as it mounts up
to "the white one flame", to "the laughter and the lips of light".
It is like a holy Italian picture, -- remote, inaccessible, alone.
The "white flame" seems to have had a mystic meaning to the boy;
it occurs repeatedly. And another poem, -- not to make
too long a story of my private enthusiasms -- "Ante Aram", --
wakes all my classical blood, --

"voice more sweet than the far plaint of viols is,
Or the soft moan of any grey-eyed lute player."

But these things are arcana.


There is a grave in Scyros, amid the white and pinkish marble of the isle,
the wild thyme and the poppies, near the green and blue waters.
There Rupert Brooke was buried. Thither have gone the thoughts
of his countrymen, and the hearts of the young especially.
It will long be so. For a new star shines in the English heavens.
G. E. W.
Beverly, Mass., October, 1915.



Second Best
Day That I Have Loved
Sleeping Out: Full Moon
In Examination
Pine-Trees and the Sky: Evening
The Vision of the Archangels
On the Death of Smet-Smet, the Hippopotamus-Goddess
The Song of the Pilgrims
The Song of the Beasts
Ante Aram
The Call
The Wayfarers
The Beginning


Sonnet: "Oh! Death will find me, long before I tire"
Sonnet: "I said I splendidly loved you; it's not true"
The Fish
Thoughts on the Shape of the Human Body
The Hill
The One Before the Last
The Jolly Company
The Life Beyond
Lines Written in the Belief That the Ancient Roman Festival of the Dead
Was Called Ambarvalia
Dead Men's Love
Town and Country
Menelaus and Helen
Blue Evening
The Charm
The Voice
Dining-Room Tea
The Goddess in the Wood
A Channel Passage
Day and Night


Choriambics -- I
Choriambics -- II


I. Peace
II. Safety
III. The Dead
IV. The Dead
V. The Soldier
The Treasure

The South Seas

Tiare Tahiti
The Great Lover
There's Wisdom in Women
He Wonders Whether to Praise or to Blame Her
A Memory (From a sonnet-sequence)
One Day
Sonnet (Suggested by some of the Proceedings
of the Society for Psychical Research)

Other Poems

The Busy Heart
The Chilterns
The Night Journey
Beauty and Beauty
The Way That Lovers Use
Mary and Gabriel
The Funeral of Youth: Threnody


The Old Vicarage, Grantchester


The Dance
Sometimes Even Now
Sonnet: In Time of Revolt
A Letter to a Live Poet
Fragment on Painters
The True Beatitude
Sonnet Reversed
It's not Going to Happen Again
The Little Dog's Day
Rupert Brooke (A Biographical Note)


Second Best

Here in the dark, O heart;
Alone with the enduring Earth, and Night,
And Silence, and the warm strange smell of clover;
Clear-visioned, though it break you; far apart
From the dead best, the dear and old delight;
Throw down your dreams of immortality,
O faithful, O foolish lover!
Here's peace for you, and surety; here the one
Wisdom -- the truth! -- "All day the good glad sun
Showers love and labour on you, wine and song;
The greenwood laughs, the wind blows, all day long
Till night." And night ends all things.
Then shall be
No lamp relumed in heaven, no voices crying,
Or changing lights, or dreams and forms that hover!
(And, heart, for all your sighing,
That gladness and those tears are over, over. . . .)

And has the truth brought no new hope at all,
Heart, that you're weeping yet for Paradise?
Do they still whisper, the old weary cries?
Proud, then, clear-eyed and laughing, go to greet
Death as a friend!

Exile of immortality, strongly wise,
Strain through the dark with undesirous eyes
To what may lie beyond it. Sets your star,
O heart, for ever! Yet, behind the night,
Waits for the great unborn, somewhere afar,
Some white tremendous daybreak. And the light,
Returning, shall give back the golden hours,
Ocean a windless level, Earth a lawn
Spacious and full of sunlit dancing-places,
And laughter, and music, and, among the flowers,
The gay child-hearts of men, and the child-faces
O heart, in the great dawn!

Day That I Have Loved

Tenderly, day that I have loved, I close your eyes,
And smooth your quiet brow, and fold your thin dead hands.
The grey veils of the half-light deepen; colour dies.
I bear you, a light burden, to the shrouded sands,

Where lies your waiting boat, by wreaths of the sea's making
Mist-garlanded, with all grey weeds of the water crowned.
There you'll be laid, past fear of sleep or hope of waking;
And over the unmoving sea, without a sound,

Faint hands will row you outward, out beyond our sight,
Us with stretched arms and empty eyes on the far-gleaming
And marble sand. . . .
Beyond the shifting cold twilight,
Further than laughter goes, or tears, further than dreaming,
There'll be no port, no dawn-lit islands! But the drear
Waste darkening, and, at length, flame ultimate on the deep.
Oh, the last fire -- and you, unkissed, unfriended there!
Oh, the lone way's red ending, and we not there to weep!

(We found you pale and quiet, and strangely crowned with flowers,
Lovely and secret as a child. You came with us,
Came happily, hand in hand with the young dancing hours,
High on the downs at dawn!) Void now and tenebrous,

The grey sands curve before me. . . .
From the inland meadows,
Fragrant of June and clover, floats the dark, and fills
The hollow sea's dead face with little creeping shadows,
And the white silence brims the hollow of the hills.

Close in the nest is folded every weary wing,
Hushed all the joyful voices; and we, who held you dear,
Eastward we turn and homeward, alone, remembering . . .
Day that I loved, day that I loved, the Night is here!

Sleeping Out: Full Moon

They sleep within. . . .
I cower to the earth, I waking, I only.
High and cold thou dreamest, O queen, high-dreaming and lonely.

We have slept too long, who can hardly win
The white one flame, and the night-long crying;
The viewless passers; the world's low sighing
With desire, with yearning,
To the fire unburning,
To the heatless fire, to the flameless ecstasy! . . .

Helpless I lie.
And around me the feet of thy watchers tread.
There is a rumour and a radiance of wings above my head,
An intolerable radiance of wings. . . .

All the earth grows fire,
White lips of desire
Brushing cool on the forehead, croon slumbrous things.
Earth fades; and the air is thrilled with ways,
Dewy paths full of comfort. And radiant bands,
The gracious presence of friendly hands,
Help the blind one, the glad one, who stumbles and strays,
Stretching wavering hands, up, up, through the praise
Of a myriad silver trumpets, through cries,
To all glory, to all gladness, to the infinite height,
To the gracious, the unmoving, the mother eyes,
And the laughter, and the lips, of light.

In Examination

Lo! from quiet skies
In through the window my Lord the Sun!
And my eyes
Were dazzled and drunk with the misty gold,
The golden glory that drowned and crowned me
Eddied and swayed through the room . . .
Around me,
To left and to right,
Hunched figures and old,
Dull blear-eyed scribbling fools, grew fair,
Ringed round and haloed with holy light.
Flame lit on their hair,
And their burning eyes grew young and wise,
Each as a God, or King of kings,
White-robed and bright
(Still scribbling all);
And a full tumultuous murmur of wings
Grew through the hall;
And I knew the white undying Fire,
And, through open portals,
Gyre on gyre,
Archangels and angels, adoring, bowing,
And a Face unshaded . . .
Till the light faded;
And they were but fools again, fools unknowing,
Still scribbling, blear-eyed and stolid immortals.

Pine-Trees and the Sky: Evening

I'd watched the sorrow of the evening sky,
And smelt the sea, and earth, and the warm clover,
And heard the waves, and the seagull's mocking cry.

And in them all was only the old cry,
That song they always sing -- "The best is over!
You may remember now, and think, and sigh,
O silly lover!"
And I was tired and sick that all was over,
And because I,
For all my thinking, never could recover
One moment of the good hours that were over.
And I was sorry and sick, and wished to die.

Then from the sad west turning wearily,
I saw the pines against the white north sky,
Very beautiful, and still, and bending over
Their sharp black heads against a quiet sky.
And there was peace in them; and I
Was happy, and forgot to play the lover,
And laughed, and did no longer wish to die;
Being glad of you, O pine-trees and the sky!


Creeps in half wanton, half asleep,
One with a fat wide hairless face.
He likes love-music that is cheap;
Likes women in a crowded place;
And wants to hear the noise they're making.

His heavy eyelids droop half-over,
Great pouches swing beneath his eyes.
He listens, thinks himself the lover,
Heaves from his stomach wheezy sighs;
He likes to feel his heart's a-breaking.

The music swells. His gross legs quiver.
His little lips are bright with slime.
The music swells. The women shiver.
And all the while, in perfect time,
His pendulous stomach hangs a-shaking.

The Vision of the Archangels

Slowly up silent peaks, the white edge of the world,
Trod four archangels, clear against the unheeding sky,
Bearing, with quiet even steps, and great wings furled,
A little dingy coffin; where a child must lie,
It was so tiny. (Yet, you had fancied, God could never
Have bidden a child turn from the spring and the sunlight,
And shut him in that lonely shell, to drop for ever
Into the emptiness and silence, into the night. . . .)

They then from the sheer summit cast, and watched it fall,
Through unknown glooms, that frail black coffin -- and therein
God's little pitiful Body lying, worn and thin,
And curled up like some crumpled, lonely flower-petal --
Till it was no more visible; then turned again
With sorrowful quiet faces downward to the plain.


Swiftly out from the friendly lilt of the band,
The crowd's good laughter, the loved eyes of men,
I am drawn nightward; I must turn again
Where, down beyond the low untrodden strand,
There curves and glimmers outward to the unknown
The old unquiet ocean. All the shade
Is rife with magic and movement. I stray alone
Here on the edge of silence, half afraid,

Waiting a sign. In the deep heart of me
The sullen waters swell towards the moon,
And all my tides set seaward.
From inland
Leaps a gay fragment of some mocking tune,
That tinkles and laughs and fades along the sand,
And dies between the seawall and the sea.

On the Death of Smet-Smet, the Hippopotamus-Goddess

Song of a tribe of the ancient Egyptians

(The Priests within the Temple)
She was wrinkled and huge and hideous? She was our Mother.
She was lustful and lewd? -- but a God; we had none other.
In the day She was hidden and dumb, but at nightfall moaned in the shade;
We shuddered and gave Her Her will in the darkness; we were afraid.

(The People without)
She sent us pain,
And we bowed before Her;
She smiled again
And bade us adore Her.
She solaced our woe
And soothed our sighing;
And what shall we do
Now God is dying?

(The Priests within)
She was hungry and ate our children; -- how should we stay Her?
She took our young men and our maidens; -- ours to obey Her.
We were loathed and mocked and reviled of all nations; that was our pride.
She fed us, protected us, loved us, and killed us; now She has died.

(The People without)
She was so strong;
But death is stronger.
She ruled us long;
But Time is longer.
She solaced our woe
And soothed our sighing;
And what shall we do
Now God is dying?

The Song of the Pilgrims

(Halted around the fire by night, after moon-set,
they sing this beneath the trees.)

What light of unremembered skies
Hast thou relumed within our eyes,
Thou whom we seek, whom we shall find? . . .
A certain odour on the wind,
Thy hidden face beyond the west,
These things have called us; on a quest
Older than any road we trod,
More endless than desire. . . .
Far God,
Sigh with thy cruel voice, that fills
The soul with longing for dim hills
And faint horizons! For there come
Grey moments of the antient dumb
Sickness of travel, when no song
Can cheer us; but the way seems long;
And one remembers. . . .
Ah! the beat
Of weary unreturning feet,
And songs of pilgrims unreturning! . . .
The fires we left are always burning
On the old shrines of home. Our kin
Have built them temples, and therein
Pray to the Gods we know; and dwell
In little houses lovable,
Being happy (we remember how!)
And peaceful even to death. . . .
O Thou,
God of all long desirous roaming,
Our hearts are sick of fruitless homing,
And crying after lost desire.
Hearten us onward! as with fire
Consuming dreams of other bliss.
The best Thou givest, giving this
Sufficient thing -- to travel still
Over the plain, beyond the hill,
Unhesitating through the shade,
Amid the silence unafraid,
Till, at some sudden turn, one sees
Against the black and muttering trees
Thine altar, wonderfully white,
Among the Forests of the Night.

The Song of the Beasts

(Sung, on one night, in the cities, in the darkness.)

Come away! Come away!
Ye are sober and dull through the common day,
But now it is night!
It is shameful night, and God is asleep!
(Have you not felt the quick fires that creep
Through the hungry flesh, and the lust of delight,
And hot secrets of dreams that day cannot say?).
The house is dumb;
The night calls out to you. Come, ah, come!
Down the dim stairs, through the creaking door,
Naked, crawling on hands and feet
-- It is meet! it is meet!
Ye are men no longer, but less and more,
Beast and God. . . . Down the lampless street,
By little black ways, and secret places,
In the darkness and mire,
Faint laughter around, and evil faces
By the star-glint seen -- ah! follow with us!
For the darkness whispers a blind desire,
And the fingers of night are amorous.
Keep close as we speed,
Though mad whispers woo you, and hot hands cling,
And the touch and the smell of bare flesh sting,
Soft flank by your flank, and side brushing side --
TO-NIGHT never heed!
Unswerving and silent follow with me,
Till the city ends sheer,
And the crook'd lanes open wide,
Out of the voices of night,
Beyond lust and fear,
To the level waters of moonlight,
To the level waters, quiet and clear,
To the black unresting plains of the calling sea.


Because God put His adamantine fate
Between my sullen heart and its desire,
I swore that I would burst the Iron Gate,
Rise up, and curse Him on His throne of fire.
Earth shuddered at my crown of blasphemy,
But Love was as a flame about my feet;
Proud up the Golden Stair I strode; and beat
Thrice on the Gate, and entered with a cry --

All the great courts were quiet in the sun,
And full of vacant echoes: moss had grown
Over the glassy pavement, and begun
To creep within the dusty council-halls.
An idle wind blew round an empty throne
And stirred the heavy curtains on the walls.

Ante Aram

Before thy shrine I kneel, an unknown worshipper,
Chanting strange hymns to thee and sorrowful litanies,
Incense of dirges, prayers that are as holy myrrh.

Ah, goddess, on thy throne of tears and faint low sighs,
Weary at last to theeward come the feet that err,
And empty hearts grown tired of the world's vanities.

How fair this cool deep silence to a wanderer
Deaf with the roar of winds along the open skies!
Sweet, after sting and bitter kiss of sea-water,

The pale Lethean wine within thy chalices!
I come before thee, I, too tired wanderer,
To heed the horror of the shrine, the distant cries,

And evil whispers in the gloom, or the swift whirr
Of terrible wings -- I, least of all thy votaries,
With a faint hope to see the scented darkness stir,

And, parting, frame within its quiet mysteries
One face, with lips than autumn-lilies tenderer,
And voice more sweet than the far plaint of viols is,

Or the soft moan of any grey-eyed lute-player.


(From the train between Bologna and Milan, second class.)

Opposite me two Germans snore and sweat.
Through sullen swirling gloom we jolt and roar.
We have been here for ever: even yet
A dim watch tells two hours, two aeons, more.
The windows are tight-shut and slimy-wet
With a night's foetor. There are two hours more;
Two hours to dawn and Milan; two hours yet.
Opposite me two Germans sweat and snore. . . .

One of them wakes, and spits, and sleeps again.
The darkness shivers. A wan light through the rain
Strikes on our faces, drawn and white. Somewhere
A new day sprawls; and, inside, the foul air
Is chill, and damp, and fouler than before. . . .
Opposite me two Germans sweat and snore.

The Call

Out of the nothingness of sleep,
The slow dreams of Eternity,
There was a thunder on the deep:
I came, because you called to me.

I broke the Night's primeval bars,
I dared the old abysmal curse,
And flashed through ranks of frightened stars
Suddenly on the universe!

The eternal silences were broken;
Hell became Heaven as I passed. --
What shall I give you as a token,
A sign that we have met, at last?

I'll break and forge the stars anew,
Shatter the heavens with a song;
Immortal in my love for you,
Because I love you, very strong.

Your mouth shall mock the old and wise,
Your laugh shall fill the world with flame,
I'll write upon the shrinking skies
The scarlet splendour of your name,

Till Heaven cracks, and Hell thereunder
Dies in her ultimate mad fire,
And darkness falls, with scornful thunder,
On dreams of men and men's desire.

Then only in the empty spaces,
Death, walking very silently,
Shall fear the glory of our faces
Through all the dark infinity.

So, clothed about with perfect love,
The eternal end shall find us one,
Alone above the Night, above
The dust of the dead gods, alone.

The Wayfarers

Is it the hour? We leave this resting-place
Made fair by one another for a while.
Now, for a god-speed, one last mad embrace;
The long road then, unlit by your faint smile.
Ah! the long road! and you so far away!
Oh, I'll remember! but . . . each crawling day
Will pale a little your scarlet lips, each mile
Dull the dear pain of your remembered face.

. . . Do you think there's a far border town, somewhere,
The desert's edge, last of the lands we know,
Some gaunt eventual limit of our light,
In which I'll find you waiting; and we'll go
Together, hand in hand again, out there,
Into the waste we know not, into the night?

The Beginning

Some day I shall rise and leave my friends
And seek you again through the world's far ends,
You whom I found so fair
(Touch of your hands and smell of your hair!),
My only god in the days that were.
My eager feet shall find you again,
Though the sullen years and the mark of pain
Have changed you wholly; for I shall know
(How could I forget having loved you so?),
In the sad half-light of evening,
The face that was all my sunrising.
So then at the ends of the earth I'll stand
And hold you fiercely by either hand,
And seeing your age and ashen hair
I'll curse the thing that once you were,
Because it is changed and pale and old
(Lips that were scarlet, hair that was gold!),
And I loved you before you were old and wise,
When the flame of youth was strong in your eyes,
-- And my heart is sick with memories.


Sonnet: "Oh! Death will find me, long before I tire"

Oh! Death will find me, long before I tire
Of watching you; and swing me suddenly
Into the shade and loneliness and mire
Of the last land! There, waiting patiently,

One day, I think, I'll feel a cool wind blowing,
See a slow light across the Stygian tide,
And hear the Dead about me stir, unknowing,
And tremble. And I shall know that you have died,

And watch you, a broad-browed and smiling dream,
Pass, light as ever, through the lightless host,
Quietly ponder, start, and sway, and gleam --
Most individual and bewildering ghost! --

And turn, and toss your brown delightful head
Amusedly, among the ancient Dead.

Sonnet: "I said I splendidly loved you; it's not true"

I said I splendidly loved you; it's not true.
Such long swift tides stir not a land-locked sea.
On gods or fools the high risk falls -- on you --
The clean clear bitter-sweet that's not for me.
Love soars from earth to ecstasies unwist.
Love is flung Lucifer-like from Heaven to Hell.
But -- there are wanderers in the middle mist,
Who cry for shadows, clutch, and cannot tell
Whether they love at all, or, loving, whom:
An old song's lady, a fool in fancy dress,
Or phantoms, or their own face on the gloom;
For love of Love, or from heart's loneliness.
Pleasure's not theirs, nor pain. They doubt, and sigh,
And do not love at all. Of these am I.


I think if you had loved me when I wanted;
If I'd looked up one day, and seen your eyes,
And found my wild sick blasphemous prayer granted,
And your brown face, that's full of pity and wise,
Flushed suddenly; the white godhead in new fear
Intolerably so struggling, and so shamed;
Most holy and far, if you'd come all too near,
If earth had seen Earth's lordliest wild limbs tamed,
Shaken, and trapped, and shivering, for MY touch --
Myself should I have slain? or that foul you?
But this the strange gods, who had given so much,
To have seen and known you, this they might not do.
One last shame's spared me, one black word's unspoken;
And I'm alone; and you have not awoken.


When the white flame in us is gone,
And we that lost the world's delight
Stiffen in darkness, left alone
To crumble in our separate night;

When your swift hair is quiet in death,
And through the lips corruption thrust
Has stilled the labour of my breath --
When we are dust, when we are dust! --

Not dead, not undesirous yet,
Still sentient, still unsatisfied,
We'll ride the air, and shine, and flit,
Around the places where we died,

And dance as dust before the sun,
And light of foot, and unconfined,
Hurry from road to road, and run
About the errands of the wind.

And every mote, on earth or air,
Will speed and gleam, down later days,
And like a secret pilgrim fare
By eager and invisible ways,

Nor ever rest, nor ever lie,
Till, beyond thinking, out of view,
One mote of all the dust that's I
Shall meet one atom that was you.

Then in some garden hushed from wind,
Warm in a sunset's afterglow,
The lovers in the flowers will find
A sweet and strange unquiet grow

Upon the peace; and, past desiring,
So high a beauty in the air,
And such a light, and such a quiring,
And such a radiant ecstasy there,

They'll know not if it's fire, or dew,
Or out of earth, or in the height,
Singing, or flame, or scent, or hue,
Or two that pass, in light, to light,

Out of the garden, higher, higher. . . .
But in that instant they shall learn
The shattering ecstasy of our fire,
And the weak passionless hearts will burn

And faint in that amazing glow,
Until the darkness close above;
And they will know -- poor fools, they'll know! --
One moment, what it is to love.


When love has changed to kindliness --
Oh, love, our hungry lips, that press
So tight that Time's an old god's dream
Nodding in heaven, and whisper stuff
Seven million years were not enough
To think on after, make it seem
Less than the breath of children playing,
A blasphemy scarce worth the saying,
A sorry jest, "When love has grown
To kindliness -- to kindliness!" . . .
And yet -- the best that either's known
Will change, and wither, and be less,
At last, than comfort, or its own
Remembrance. And when some caress
Tendered in habit (once a flame
All heaven sang out to) wakes the shame
Unworded, in the steady eyes
We'll have, -- THAT day, what shall we do?
Being so noble, kill the two
Who've reached their second-best? Being wise,
Break cleanly off, and get away.
Follow down other windier skies
New lures, alone? Or shall we stay,
Since this is all we've known, content
In the lean twilight of such day,
And not remember, not lament?
That time when all is over, and
Hand never flinches, brushing hand;
And blood lies quiet, for all you're near;
And it's but spoken words we hear,
Where trumpets sang; when the mere skies
Are stranger and nobler than your eyes;
And flesh is flesh, was flame before;
And infinite hungers leap no more
In the chance swaying of your dress;
And love has changed to kindliness.


As those of old drank mummia
To fire their limbs of lead,
Making dead kings from Africa
Stand pandar to their bed;

Drunk on the dead, and medicined
With spiced imperial dust,
In a short night they reeled to find
Ten centuries of lust.

So I, from paint, stone, tale, and rhyme,
Stuffed love's infinity,
And sucked all lovers of all time
To rarify ecstasy.

Helen's the hair shuts out from me
Verona's livid skies;
Gypsy the lips I press; and see
Two Antonys in your eyes.

The unheard invisible lovely dead
Lie with us in this place,
And ghostly hands above my head
Close face to straining face;

Their blood is wine along our limbs;
Their whispering voices wreathe
Savage forgotten drowsy hymns
Under the names we breathe;

Woven from their tomb, and one with it,
The night wherein we press;
Their thousand pitchy pyres have lit
Your flaming nakedness.

For the uttermost years have cried and clung
To kiss your mouth to mine;
And hair long dust was caught, was flung,
Hand shaken to hand divine,

And Life has fired, and Death not shaded,
All Time's uncounted bliss,
And the height o' the world has flamed and faded,
Love, that our love be this!

The Fish

In a cool curving world he lies
And ripples with dark ecstasies.
The kind luxurious lapse and steal
Shapes all his universe to feel
And know and be; the clinging stream
Closes his memory, glooms his dream,
Who lips the roots o' the shore, and glides
Superb on unreturning tides.
Those silent waters weave for him
A fluctuant mutable world and dim,
Where wavering masses bulge and gape
Mysterious, and shape to shape
Dies momently through whorl and hollow,
And form and line and solid follow
Solid and line and form to dream
Fantastic down the eternal stream;
An obscure world, a shifting world,
Bulbous, or pulled to thin, or curled,
Or serpentine, or driving arrows,
Or serene slidings, or March narrows.
There slipping wave and shore are one,
And weed and mud. No ray of sun,
But glow to glow fades down the deep
(As dream to unknown dream in sleep);
Shaken translucency illumes
The hyaline of drifting glooms;
The strange soft-handed depth subdues
Drowned colour there, but black to hues,
As death to living, decomposes --
Red darkness of the heart of roses,
Blue brilliant from dead starless skies,
And gold that lies behind the eyes,
The unknown unnameable sightless white
That is the essential flame of night,
Lustreless purple, hooded green,
The myriad hues that lie between
Darkness and darkness! . . .

And all's one.
Gentle, embracing, quiet, dun,
The world he rests in, world he knows,
Perpetual curving. Only -- grows
An eddy in that ordered falling,
A knowledge from the gloom, a calling
Weed in the wave, gleam in the mud --
The dark fire leaps along his blood;
Dateless and deathless, blind and still,
The intricate impulse works its will;
His woven world drops back; and he,
Sans providence, sans memory,
Unconscious and directly driven,
Fades to some dank sufficient heaven.

O world of lips, O world of laughter,
Where hope is fleet and thought flies after,
Of lights in the clear night, of cries
That drift along the wave and rise
Thin to the glittering stars above,
You know the hands, the eyes of love!
The strife of limbs, the sightless clinging,
The infinite distance, and the singing
Blown by the wind, a flame of sound,
The gleam, the flowers, and vast around
The horizon, and the heights above --
You know the sigh, the song of love!

But there the night is close, and there
Darkness is cold and strange and bare;
And the secret deeps are whisperless;
And rhythm is all deliciousness;
And joy is in the throbbing tide,
Whose intricate fingers beat and glide
In felt bewildering harmonies
Of trembling touch; and music is
The exquisite knocking of the blood.
Space is no more, under the mud;
His bliss is older than the sun.
Silent and straight the waters run.
The lights, the cries, the willows dim,
And the dark tide are one with him.

Thoughts on the Shape of the Human Body

How can we find? how can we rest? how can
We, being gods, win joy, or peace, being man?
We, the gaunt zanies of a witless Fate,
Who love the unloving and lover hate,
Forget the moment ere the moment slips,
Kiss with blind lips that seek beyond the lips,
Who want, and know not what we want, and cry
With crooked mouths for Heaven, and throw it by.
Love's for completeness! No perfection grows
'Twixt leg, and arm, elbow, and ear, and nose,
And joint, and socket; but unsatisfied
Sprawling desires, shapeless, perverse, denied.
Finger with finger wreathes; we love, and gape,
Fantastic shape to mazed fantastic shape,
Straggling, irregular, perplexed, embossed,
Grotesquely twined, extravagantly lost
By crescive paths and strange protuberant ways
From sanity and from wholeness and from grace.
How can love triumph, how can solace be,
Where fever turns toward fever, knee toward knee?
Could we but fill to harmony, and dwell
Simple as our thought and as perfectible,
Rise disentangled from humanity
Strange whole and new into simplicity,
Grow to a radiant round love, and bear
Unfluctuant passion for some perfect sphere,
Love moon to moon unquestioning, and be
Like the star Lunisequa, steadfastly
Following the round clear orb of her delight,
Patiently ever, through the eternal night!


Voices out of the shade that cried,
And long noon in the hot calm places,
And children's play by the wayside,
And country eyes, and quiet faces --
All these were round my steady paces.

Those that I could have loved went by me;
Cool gardened homes slept in the sun;
I heard the whisper of water nigh me,
Saw hands that beckoned, shone, were gone
In the green and gold. And I went on.

For if my echoing footfall slept,
Soon a far whispering there'd be
Of a little lonely wind that crept
From tree to tree, and distantly
Followed me, followed me. . . .

But the blue vaporous end of day
Brought peace, and pursuit baffled quite,
Where between pine-woods dipped the way.
I turned, slipped in and out of sight.
I trod as quiet as the night.

The pine-boles kept perpetual hush;
And in the boughs wind never swirled.
I found a flowering lowly bush,
And bowed, slid in, and sighed and curled,
Hidden at rest from all the world.

Safe! I was safe, and glad, I knew!
Yet -- with cold heart and cold wet brows
I lay. And the dark fell. . . . There grew
Meward a sound of shaken boughs;
And ceased, above my intricate house;

And silence, silence, silence found me. . . .
I felt the unfaltering movement creep
Among the leaves. They shed around me
Calm clouds of scent, that I did weep;
And stroked my face. I fell asleep.

The Hill

Breathless, we flung us on the windy hill,
Laughed in the sun, and kissed the lovely grass.
You said, "Through glory and ecstasy we pass;
Wind, sun, and earth remain, the birds sing still,
When we are old, are old. . . ." "And when we die
All's over that is ours; and life burns on
Through other lovers, other lips," said I,
-- "Heart of my heart, our heaven is now, is won!"

"We are Earth's best, that learnt her lesson here.
Life is our cry. We have kept the faith!" we said;
"We shall go down with unreluctant tread
Rose-crowned into the darkness!" . . . Proud we were,
And laughed, that had such brave true things to say.
-- And then you suddenly cried, and turned away.

The One Before the Last

I dreamt I was in love again
With the One Before the Last,
And smiled to greet the pleasant pain
Of that innocent young past.

But I jumped to feel how sharp had been
The pain when it did live,
How the faded dreams of Nineteen-ten
Were Hell in Nineteen-five.

The boy's woe was as keen and clear,
The boy's love just as true,
And the One Before the Last, my dear,
Hurt quite as much as you.

* * * * *

Sickly I pondered how the lover
Wrongs the unanswering tomb,
And sentimentalizes over
What earned a better doom.

Gently he tombs the poor dim last time,
Strews pinkish dust above,
And sighs, "The dear dead boyish pastime!
But THIS -- ah, God! -- is Love!"

-- Better oblivion hide dead true loves,
Better the night enfold,
Than men, to eke the praise of new loves,
Should lie about the old!

* * * * *

Oh! bitter thoughts I had in plenty.
But here's the worst of it --
I shall forget, in Nineteen-twenty,
YOU ever hurt abit!

The Jolly Company

The stars, a jolly company,
I envied, straying late and lonely;
And cried upon their revelry:
"O white companionship! You only
In love, in faith unbroken dwell,
Friends radiant and inseparable!"

Light-heart and glad they seemed to me
And merry comrades (EVEN SO

But I, remembering, pitied well
And loved them, who, with lonely light,
In empty infinite spaces dwell,
Disconsolate. For, all the night,
I heard the thin gnat-voices cry,
Star to faint star, across the sky.

The Life Beyond

He wakes, who never thought to wake again,
Who held the end was Death. He opens eyes
Slowly, to one long livid oozing plain
Closed down by the strange eyeless heavens. He lies;
And waits; and once in timeless sick surmise
Through the dead air heaves up an unknown hand,
Like a dry branch. No life is in that land,
Himself not lives, but is a thing that cries;
An unmeaning point upon the mud; a speck
Of moveless horror; an Immortal One
Cleansed of the world, sentient and dead; a fly
Fast-stuck in grey sweat on a corpse's neck.

I thought when love for you died, I should die.
It's dead. Alone, most strangely, I live on.

Lines Written in the Belief That the Ancient Roman Festival of the Dead
Was Called Ambarvalia

Swings the way still by hollow and hill,
And all the world's a song;
"She's far," it sings me, "but fair," it rings me,
"Quiet," it laughs, "and strong!"

Oh! spite of the miles and years between us,
Spite of your chosen part,
I do remember; and I go
With laughter in my heart.

So above the little folk that know not,
Out of the white hill-town,
High up I clamber; and I remember;
And watch the day go down.

Gold is my heart, and the world's golden,
And one peak tipped with light;
And the air lies still about the hill
With the first fear of night;

Till mystery down the soundless valley
Thunders, and dark is here;
And the wind blows, and the light goes,
And the night is full of fear,

And I know, one night, on some far height,
In the tongue I never knew,
I yet shall hear the tidings clear
From them that were friends of you.

They'll call the news from hill to hill,
Dark and uncomforted,
Earth and sky and the winds; and I
Shall know that you are dead.

I shall not hear your trentals,
Nor eat your arval bread;
For the kin of you will surely do
Their duty by the dead.

Their little dull greasy eyes will water;
They'll paw you, and gulp afresh.
They'll sniffle and weep, and their thoughts will creep
Like flies on the cold flesh.

They will put pence on your grey eyes,
Bind up your fallen chin,
And lay you straight, the fools that loved you
Because they were your kin.

They will praise all the bad about you,
And hush the good away,
And wonder how they'll do without you,
And then they'll go away.

But quieter than one sleeping,
And stranger than of old,
You will not stir for weeping,
You will not mind the cold;

But through the night the lips will laugh not,
The hands will be in place,
And at length the hair be lying still
About the quiet face.

With snuffle and sniff and handkerchief,
And dim and decorous mirth,
With ham and sherry, they'll meet to bury
The lordliest lass of earth.

The little dead hearts will tramp ungrieving
Behind lone-riding you,
The heart so high, the heart so living,
Heart that they never knew.

I shall not hear your trentals,
Nor eat your arval bread,
Nor with smug breath tell lies of death
To the unanswering dead.

With snuffle and sniff and handkerchief,
The folk who loved you not
Will bury you, and go wondering
Back home. And you will rot.

But laughing and half-way up to heaven,
With wind and hill and star,
I yet shall keep, before I sleep,
Your Ambarvalia.

Dead Men's Love

There was a damned successful Poet;
There was a Woman like the Sun.
And they were dead. They did not know it.
They did not know their time was done.
They did not know his hymns
Were silence; and her limbs,
That had served Love so well,
Dust, and a filthy smell.

And so one day, as ever of old,
Hands out, they hurried, knee to knee;
On fire to cling and kiss and hold
And, in the other's eyes, to see
Each his own tiny face,
And in that long embrace
Feel lip and breast grow warm
To breast and lip and arm.

So knee to knee they sped again,
And laugh to laugh they ran, I'm told,
Across the streets of Hell . . .
And then
They suddenly felt the wind blow cold,
And knew, so closely pressed,
Chill air on lip and breast,
And, with a sick surprise,
The emptiness of eyes.

Town and Country

Here, where love's stuff is body, arm and side
Are stabbing-sweet 'gainst chair and lamp and wall.
In every touch more intimate meanings hide;
And flaming brains are the white heart of all.

Here, million pulses to one centre beat:
Closed in by men's vast friendliness, alone,
Two can be drunk with solitude, and meet
On the sheer point where sense with knowing's one.

Here the green-purple clanging royal night,
And the straight lines and silent walls of town,
And roar, and glare, and dust, and myriad white
Undying passers, pinnacle and crown

Intensest heavens between close-lying faces
By the lamp's airless fierce ecstatic fire;
And we've found love in little hidden places,
Under great shades, between the mist and mire.

Stay! though the woods are quiet, and you've heard
Night creep along the hedges. Never go
Where tangled foliage shrouds the crying bird,
And the remote winds sigh, and waters flow!

Lest -- as our words fall dumb on windless noons,
Or hearts grow hushed and solitary, beneath
Unheeding stars and unfamiliar moons,
Or boughs bend over, close and quiet as death, --

Unconscious and unpassionate and still,
Cloud-like we lean and stare as bright leaves stare,
And gradually along the stranger hill
Our unwalled loves thin out on vacuous air,

And suddenly there's no meaning in our kiss,
And your lit upward face grows, where we lie,
Lonelier and dreadfuller than sunlight is,
And dumb and mad and eyeless like the sky.


For moveless limbs no pity I crave,
That never were swift! Still all I prize,
Laughter and thought and friends, I have;
No fool to heave luxurious sighs
For the woods and hills that I never knew.
The more excellent way's yet mine! And you

Flower-laden come to the clean white cell,
And we talk as ever -- am I not the same?
With our hearts we love, immutable,
You without pity, I without shame.
We talk as of old; as of old you go
Out under the sky, and laughing, I know,

Flit through the streets, your heart all me;
Till you gain the world beyond the town.
Then -- I fade from your heart, quietly;
And your fleet steps quicken. The strong down
Smiles you welcome there; the woods that love you
Close lovely and conquering arms above you.

O ever-moving, O lithe and free!
Fast in my linen prison I press
On impassable bars, or emptily
Laugh in my great loneliness.
And still in the white neat bed I strive
Most impotently against that gyve;
Being less now than a thought, even,
To you alone with your hills and heaven.

Menelaus and Helen


Hot through Troy's ruin Menelaus broke
To Priam's palace, sword in hand, to sate
On that adulterous whore a ten years' hate
And a king's honour. Through red death, and smoke,
And cries, and then by quieter ways he strode,
Till the still innermost chamber fronted him.
He swung his sword, and crashed into the dim
Luxurious bower, flaming like a god.

High sat white Helen, lonely and serene.
He had not remembered that she was so fair,
And that her neck curved down in such a way;
And he felt tired. He flung the sword away,
And kissed her feet, and knelt before her there,
The perfect Knight before the perfect Queen.


So far the poet. How should he behold
That journey home, the long connubial years?
He does not tell you how white Helen bears
Child on legitimate child, becomes a scold,
Haggard with virtue. Menelaus bold
Waxed garrulous, and sacked a hundred Troys
'Twixt noon and supper. And her golden voice
Got shrill as he grew deafer. And both were old.

Often he wonders why on earth he went
Troyward, or why poor Paris ever came.
Oft she weeps, gummy-eyed and impotent;
Her dry shanks twitch at Paris' mumbled name.
So Menelaus nagged; and Helen cried;
And Paris slept on by Scamander side.


How should I know? The enormous wheels of will
Drove me cold-eyed on tired and sleepless feet.
Night was void arms and you a phantom still,
And day your far light swaying down the street.
As never fool for love, I starved for you;
My throat was dry and my eyes hot to see.
Your mouth so lying was most heaven in view,
And your remembered smell most agony.

Love wakens love! I felt your hot wrist shiver
And suddenly the mad victory I planned
Flashed real, in your burning bending head. . . .
My conqueror's blood was cool as a deep river
In shadow; and my heart beneath your hand
Quieter than a dead man on a bed.


When I see you, who were so wise and cool,
Gazing with silly sickness on that fool
You've given your love to, your adoring hands
Touch his so intimately that each understands,
I know, most hidden things; and when I know
Your holiest dreams yield to the stupid bow
Of his red lips, and that the empty grace
Of those strong legs and arms, that rosy face,
Has beaten your heart to such a flame of love,
That you have given him every touch and move,
Wrinkle and secret of you, all your life,
-- Oh! then I know I'm waiting, lover-wife,
For the great time when love is at a close,
And all its fruit's to watch the thickening nose
And sweaty neck and dulling face and eye,
That are yours, and you, most surely, till you die!
Day after day you'll sit with him and note
The greasier tie, the dingy wrinkling coat;
As prettiness turns to pomp, and strength to fat,
And love, love, love to habit!
And after that,
When all that's fine in man is at an end,
And you, that loved young life and clean, must tend
A foul sick fumbling dribbling body and old,
When his rare lips hang flabby and can't hold
Slobber, and you're enduring that worst thing,
Senility's queasy furtive love-making,
And searching those dear eyes for human meaning,
Propping the bald and helpless head, and cleaning
A scrap that life's flung by, and love's forgotten, --
Then you'll be tired; and passion dead and rotten;
And he'll be dirty, dirty!
O lithe and free
And lightfoot, that the poor heart cries to see,
That's how I'll see your man and you! --

But you
-- Oh, when THAT time comes, you'll be dirty too!

Blue Evening

My restless blood now lies a-quiver,
Knowing that always, exquisitely,
This April twilight on the river
Stirs anguish in the heart of me.

For the fast world in that rare glimmer
Puts on the witchery of a dream,
The straight grey buildings, richly dimmer,
The fiery windows, and the stream

With willows leaning quietly over,
The still ecstatic fading skies . . .
And all these, like a waiting lover,
Murmur and gleam, lift lustrous eyes,

Drift close to me, and sideways bending
Whisper delicious words.
But I
Stretch terrible hands, uncomprehending,
Shaken with love; and laugh; and cry.

My agony made the willows quiver;
I heard the knocking of my heart
Die loudly down the windless river,
I heard the pale skies fall apart,

And the shrill stars' unmeaning laughter,
And my voice with the vocal trees
Weeping. And Hatred followed after,
Shrilling madly down the breeze.

In peace from the wild heart of clamour,
A flower in moonlight, she was there,

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