Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Books, poems, drama…

The Poems of William Watson by William Watson

Part 4 out of 4

Adobe PDF icon
Download this document as a .pdf
File size: 0.3 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

With conflagration: roofs enfurnaced, yet
Unmolten,--columns and cupolas flanked with fire,
Yet standing unconsumed
Of the fierce fervency,--and higher
Than all, their fringes goldenly illumed,
Dishevelled clouds, like massed empurpled smoke
From smouldering forges fumed:
Till suddenly the bright spell broke
With the sun sinking through some palace-floor
And vanishing wholly. Then the city woke,
Her mighty Fire-Dream o'er,
As who from out a sleep is raised
Of terrible loveliness, lasting hardly more
Than one most monumental moment; dazed
He looketh, having come
Forth of one world and witless gazed
Into another: ev'n so looked, for some
Brief while, the city--amazed, immobile, dumb.

A SONG OF THREE SINGERS

I

Wave and wind and willow-tree
Speak a speech that no man knoweth;
Tree that sigheth, wind that bloweth,
Wave that floweth to the sea:
Wave and wind and willow-tree.

Peerless perfect poets ye,
Singing songs all songs excelling,
Fine as crystal music dwelling
In a welling fountain free:
Peerless perfect poets three!

II

Wave and wind and willow-tree
Know not aught of poets' rhyming,
Yet they make a silver-chiming
Sunward-climbing minstrelsy,
Soother than all songs that be.

Blows the wind it knows not why,
Flows the wave it knows not whither,
And the willow swayeth hither
Swayeth thither witlessly,
Nothing knowing save to sigh.

LOVE'S ASTROLOGY

I know not if they erred
Who thought to see
The tale of all the times to be,
Star-character'd;
I know not, neither care,
If fools or knaves they were.

But this I know: last night
On me there shone
_Two stars_ that made all stars look wan
And shamed quite,
Wherefrom the soul of me
Divined her destiny.

THREE FLOWERS

I made a little song about the rose
And sang it for the rose to hear,
Nor ever marked until the music's close
A lily that was listening near.

The red red rose flushed redder with delight,
And like a queen her head she raised.
The white white lily blanched a paler white,
For anger that she was not praised.

Turning I left the rose unto her pride,
The lily to her enviousness,
And soon upon the grassy ground espied
A daisy all companionless.

Doubtless no flattered flower is this, I deemed;
And not so graciously it grew
As rose or lily: but methought it seemed
More thankful for the sun and dew.

_Dear love, my sweet small flower that grew'st among
The grass, from all the flowers apart,--
Forgive me that I gave the rose my song,
Ere thou, the daisy, hadst my heart!_

THREE ETERNITIES

Lo, thou and I, my love,
And the sad stars above,--
Thou and I, I and thou!
Ah could we lie as now
Ever and aye, my love,
Hand within hand, my love,
Heart within heart, my dove,
Through night and day
For ever!

Lo, thou and I, my love,
Up in the sky above,
Where the sun makes his home
And the gods are, my love,
One day may wander from
Star unto star, my love,--
Soul within soul, my love,
Yonder afar
For ever!

Lo, thou and I, my love,
Some time shall lie, my love,
Knowing not night from day,
Knowing not toil from rest,--
Breast unto breast, my love,
Even as now for aye:
Clay within clay, my love,
Clay within clay
For ever!

LOVE OUTLOVED

I

Love cometh and love goeth,
And he is wise who knoweth
Whither and whence love flies:
But wise and yet more wise
Are they that heed not whence he flies or whither
Who hither speeds to-day, to-morrow thither;
Like to the wind that as it listeth blows,
And man doth hear the sound thereof, but knows
Nor whence it comes nor whither yet it goes.

II

O sweet my sometime loved and worshipt one
A day thou gavest me
That rose full-orbed in starlike happiness
And lit our heaven that other stars had none:--
Sole as that westering sphere companionless
When twilight is begun
And the dead sun transfigureth the sea:
A day so bright
Methought the very shadow, from its light
Thrown, were enough to bless
(Albeit with but a shadow's benison)
The unborn days its dark posterity.
Methought our love, though dead, should be
Fair as in life, by memory
Embalmed, a rose with bloom for aye unblown.
But lo the forest is with faded leaves
And our two hearts with faded loves bestrown,
And in mine ear the weak wind grieves
And uttereth moan:
"Shed leaves and fallen, fallen loves and shed,
And those are dead and these are more than dead;
And those have known
The springtime, these the lovetime, overthrown,
With all fair times and pleasureful that be."
And shall not we, O Time, and shall not we
Thy strong self see
Brought low and vanquished,
And made to bow the knee
And bow the head
To one that is when thou and thine are fled,
The silent-eyed austere Eternity?

III

Behold a new song still the lark doth sing
Each morning when he riseth from the grass,
And no man sigheth for the song that was,
The melody that yestermorn did bring.
The rose dies and the lily, and no man mourns
That nevermore the selfsame flower returns:
For well we know a thousand flowers will spring,
A thousand birds make music on the wing.
Ay me! fair things and sweet are birds and flowers,
The scent of lily and rose in gardens still,
The babble of beaked mouths that speak no ill:
And love is sweeter yet than flower or bird,
Or any odor smelled or ditty heard--
Love is another and a sweeter thing.
But when the music ceaseth in Love's bowers,
Who listeneth well shall hear the silence stirred
With aftermoan of many a fretful string:
For when Love harpeth to the hollow hours,
His gladdest notes make saddest echoing.

VANISHINGS

As one whose eyes have watched the stricken day
Swoon to its crimson death adown the sea,
Turning his face to eastward suddenly
Sees a lack-lustre world all chill and gray,--
Then, wandering sunless whitherso he may,
Feels the first dubious dumb obscurity,
And vague foregloomings of the Dark to be,
Close like a sadness round his glimmering way;
So I, from drifting dreambound on and on
About strange isles of utter bliss, in seas
Whose waves are unimagined melodies,
Rose and beheld the dreamless world anew:
Sad were the fields, and dim with splendours gone
The strait sky-glimpses fugitive and few.

BEETHOVEN

O Master, if immortals suffer aught
Of sadness like to ours, and in like sighs
And with like overflow of darkened eyes
Disburden them, I know not; but methought,
What time to day mine ear the utterance caught
Whereby in manifold melodious wise
Thy heart's unrestful infelicities
Rose like a sea with easeless winds distraught,
That thine seemed angel's grieving, as of one
Strayed somewhere out of heaven, and uttering
Lone moan and alien wail: because he hath
Failed to remember the remounting path,
And singing, weeping, can but weep and sing
Ever, through vasts forgotten of the sun.

GOD-SEEKING

God-seeking thou hast journeyed far and nigh.
On dawn-lit mountain-tops thy soul did yearn
To hear His trailing garments wander by;
And where 'mid thunderous glooms great sunsets burn,
Vainly thou sought'st His shadow on sea and sky;
Or gazing up, at noontide, could'st discern
Only a neutral heaven's indifferent eye
And countenance austerely taciturn.

Yet whom thou soughtest I have found at last;
Neither where tempest dims the world below
Nor where the westering daylight reels aghast
In conflagrations of red overthrow:
But where this virgin brooklet silvers past,
And yellowing either bank the king-cups blow.

SKYFARING

Drifting through vacant spaces vast of sleep,
One overtook me like a flying star
And whirled me onward in his glistering car.
From shade to shade the winged steeds did leap,
And clomb the midnight like a mountain-steep;
Till that vague world where men and women are,
Ev'n as a rushlight down the gulfs afar,
Paled and went out, upswallowed of the deep.

Then I to that ethereal charioteer:
"O whither through the vastness are we bound?
O bear me back to yonder blinded sphere!"
Therewith I heard the ends of night resound;
And, wakened by ten thousand echoes, found
That far-off planet lying all-too near.

Book of the day: