The Answer

When I go back to earth
And all my joyous body
Puts off the red and white
That once had been so proud,
If men should pass above
With false and feeble pity,
My dust will find a voice
To answer them aloud:

“Be still, I am content,
Take back your poor compassion,
Joy was a flame in me
Too steady to destroy;
Lithe as a bending reed
Loving the storm that sways her—
I found more joy in sorrow
Than you could find in joy.”


The Voice

Atoms as old as stars,
Mutation on mutation,
Millions and millions of cells
Dividing yet still the same,
From air and changing earth,
From ancient Eastern rivers,
From turquoise tropic seas,
Unto myself I came.

My spirit like my flesh
Sprang from a thousand sources,
From cave-man, hunter and shepherd,
From Karnak, Cyprus, Rome;
The living thoughts in me
Spring from dead men and women,
Forgotten time out of mind
And many as bubbles of foam.

Here for a moment’s space
Into the light out of darkness,
I come and they come with me
Finding words with my breath;
From the wisdom of many life-times
I hear them cry: “Forever
Seek for Beauty, she only
Fights with man against Death!”


By the Sea

Beside an ebbing northern sea
While stars awaken one by one,
We walk together, I and he.

He woos me with an easy grace
That proves him only half sincere;
A light smile flickers on his face.

To him love-making is an art,
And as a flutist plays a flute,
So does he play upon his heart

A music varied to his whim.
He has no use for love of mine,
He would not have me answer him.

To hide my eyes within the night
I watch the changeful lighthouse gleam
Alternately with red and white.

My laughter smites upon my ears,
So one who cries and wakes from sleep
Knows not it is himself he hears.

What if my voice should let him know
The mocking words were all a sham,
And lips that laugh could tremble so?

What if I lost the power to lie,
And he should only hear his name
In one low, broken cry?


April Song

Willow, in your April gown
Delicate and gleaming,
Do you mind in years gone by
All my dreaming?

Spring was like a call to me
That I could not answer,
I was chained to loneliness,
I, the dancer.

Willow, twinkling in the sun,
Still your leaves and hear me,
I can answer spring at last,
Love is near me!


Blue Squills

How many million Aprils came
Before I ever knew
How white a cherry bough could be,
A bed of squills, how blue!

And many a dancing April
When life is done with me,
Will lift the blue flame of the flower
And the white flame of the tree.

Oh burn me with your beauty, then,
Oh hurt me, tree and flower,
Lest in the end death try to take
Even this glistening hour.

O shaken flowers, O shimmering trees,
O sunlit white and blue,
Wound me, that I, through endless sleep,
May bear the scar of you.


The Storm

I thought of you when I was wakened
By a wind that made me glad and afraid
Of the rushing, pouring sound of the sea
That the great trees made.

One thought in my mind went over and over
While the darkness shook and the leaves were thinned—
I thought it was you who had come to find me,
You were the wind.


The Inn of Earth

I came to the crowded Inn of Earth,
And called for a cup of wine,
But the Host went by with averted eye
From a thirst as keen as mine.

Then I sat down with weariness
And asked a bit of bread,
But the Host went by with averted eye
And never a word he said.

While always from the outer night
The waiting souls came in
With stifled cries of sharp surprise
At all the light and din.

“Then give me a bed to sleep,” I said,
“For midnight comes apace”—
But the Host went by with averted eye
And I never saw his face.

“Since there is neither food nor rest,
I go where I fared before”—
But the Host went by with averted eye
And barred the outer door.


A Fantasy

Her voice is like clear water
That drips upon a stone
In forests far and silent
Where Quiet plays alone.

Her thoughts are like the lotus
Abloom by sacred streams
Beneath the temple arches
Where Quiet sits and dreams.

Her kisses are the roses
That glow while dusk is deep
In Persian garden closes
Where Quiet falls asleep.


In Spring, Santa Barbara

I have been happy two weeks together,
My love is coming home to me,
Gold and silver is the weather
And smooth as lapis is the sea.

The earth has turned its brown to green
After three nights of humming rain,
And in the valleys peck and preen
Linnets with a scarlet stain.

High in the mountains all alone
The wild swans whistle on the lakes,
But I have been as still as stone,
My heart sings only when it breaks.


Refuge

From my spirit’s gray defeat,
From my pulse’s flagging beat,
From my hopes that turned to sand
Sifting through my close-clenched hand,
From my own fault’s slavery,
If I can sing, I still am free.

For with my singing I can make
A refuge for my spirit’s sake,
A house of shining words, to be
My fragile immortality.


Tonight

The moon is a curving flower of gold,
The sky is still and blue;
The moon was made for the sky to hold,
And I for you.

The moon is a flower without a stem,
The sky is luminous;
Eternity was made for them,
Tonight for us.


The Song Maker

I made a hundred little songs
That told the joy and pain of love,
And sang them blithely, though I knew
No whit thereof.

I was a weaver deaf and blind;
A miracle was wrought for me,
But I have lost my skill to weave
Since I can see.

For while I sang—ah swift and strange!
Love passed and touched me on the brow,
And I who made so many songs
Am silent now.


Joy

I am wild, I will sing to the trees,
I will sing to the stars in the sky,
I love, I am loved, he is mine,
Now at last I can die!

I am sandaled with wind and with flame,
I have heart-fire and singing to give,
I can tread on the grass or the stars,
Now at last I can live!


In a Garden

The world is resting without sound or motion,
Behind the apple tree the sun goes down
Painting with fire the spires and the windows
In the elm-shaded town.

Beyond the calm Connecticut the hills lie
Silvered with haze as fruits still fresh with bloom,
The swallows weave in flight across the zenith
On an aerial loom.

Into the garden peace comes back with twilight,
Peace that since noon had left the purple phlox,
The heavy-headed asters, the late roses
And swaying hollyhocks.

For at high-noon I heard from this same garden
The far-off murmur as when many come;
Up from the village surged the blind and beating
Red music of a drum;

And the hysterical sharp fife that shattered
The brittle autumn air,
While they came, the young men marching
Past the village square…

Across the calm Connecticut the hills change
To violet, the veils of dusk are deep—
Earth takes her children’s many sorrows calmly
And stills herself to sleep.


Summer Night, Riverside

In the wild, soft summer darkness
How many and many a night we two together
Sat in the park and watched the Hudson
Wearing her lights like golden spangles
Glinting on black satin.
The rail along the curving pathway
Was low in a happy place to let us cross,
And down the hill a tree that dripped with bloom
Sheltered us,
While your kisses and the flowers,
Falling, falling,
Tangled my hair…

The frail white stars moved slowly over the sky.

And now, far off
In the fragrant darkness
The tree is tremulous again with bloom,
For June comes back.

Tonight what girl
Dreamily before her mirror shakes from her hair
This year’s blossoms, clinging in its coils?


The New Moon

Day, you have bruised and beaten me,
As rain beats down the bright, proud sea,
Beaten my body, bruised my soul,
Left me nothing lovely or whole—
Yet I have wrested a gift from you,
Day that dies in dusky blue:

For suddenly over the factories
I saw a moon in the cloudy seas—
A wisp of beauty all alone
In a world as hard and gray as stone—
Oh who could be bitter and want to die
When a maiden moon wakes up in the sky?


The Star

A white star born in the evening glow
Looked to the round green world below,
And saw a pool in a wooded place
That held like a jewel her mirrored face.
She said to the pool: “Oh, wondrous deep,
I love you, I give you my light to keep.
Oh, more profound than the moving sea
That never has shown myself to me!
Oh, fathomless as the sky is far,
Hold forever your tremulous star!”

But out of the woods as night grew cool
A brown pig came to the little pool;
It grunted and splashed and waded in
And the deepest place but reached its chin.
The water gurgled with tender glee
And the mud churned up in it turbidly.

The star grew pale and hid her face
In a bit of floating cloud like lace.


The Years

Tonight I close my eyes and see
A strange procession passing me—
The years before I saw your face
Go by me with a wistful grace;
They pass, the sensitive, shy years,
As one who strives to dance, half blind with tears.

The years went by and never knew
That each one brought me nearer you;
Their path was narrow and apart
And yet it led me to your heart—
Oh, sensitive, shy years, oh, lonely years,
That strove to sing with voices drowned in tears.


Song Making

My heart cried like a beaten child
Ceaselessly all night long;
I had to take my own cries
And thread them into a song.

One was a cry at black midnight
And one when the first cock crew—
My heart was like a beaten child,
But no one ever knew.

Life, you have put me in your debt
And I must serve you long—
But oh, the debt is terrible
That must be paid in song.


I Would Live in Your Love

I would live in your love as the sea-grasses live in the sea,
Borne up by each wave as it passes, drawn down by each wave that recedes;
I would empty my soul of the dreams that have gathered in me,
I would beat with your heart as it beats, I would follow your soul as it leads.


Thoughts

When I can make my thoughts come forth
To walk like ladies up and down,
Each one puts on before the glass
Her most becoming hat and gown.

But oh, the shy and eager thoughts
That hide and will not get them dressed,
Why is it that they always seem
So much more lovely than the rest?


The Sea Wind

I am a pool in a peaceful place,
I greet the great sky face to face,
I know the stars and the stately moon
And the wind that runs with rippling shoon—
But why does it always bring to me
The far-off, beautiful sound of the sea?

The marsh grass weaves me a wall of green,
But the wind comes whispering in between,
In the dead of night when the sky is deep
The wind comes waking me out of sleep—
Why does it always bring to me
The far-off, terrible call of the sea?


Sea Longing

A thousand miles beyond this sun-steeped wall
Somewhere the waves creep cool along the sand,
The ebbing tide forsakes the listless land
With the old murmur, long and musical;
The windy waves mount up and curve and fall,
And round the rocks the foam blows up like snow,—
Though I am inland far, I hear and know,
For I was born the sea’s eternal thrall.
I would that I were there and over me
The cold insistence of the tide would roll,
Quenching this burning thing men call the soul,—
Then with the ebbing I should drift and be
Less than the smallest shell along the shoal,
Less than the seagulls calling to the sea.


Central Park at Dusk

Buildings above the leafless trees
Loom high as castles in a dream,
While one by one the lamps come out
To thread the twilight with a gleam.

There is no sign of leaf or bud,
A hush is over everything—
Silent as women wait for love,
The world is waiting for the spring.


If I must go to heaven’s end
Climbing the ages like a stair,
Be near me and forever bend
With the same eyes above me there;
Time will fly past us like leaves flying,
We shall not heed, for we shall be
Beyond living, beyond dying,
Knowing and known unchangeably.


A Song of the Princess

The princess has her lovers,
A score of knights has she,
And each can sing a madrigal,
And praise her gracefully.

But Love that is so bitter
Hath put within her heart
A longing for the scornful knight
Who silent stands apart.

And though the others praise and plead,
She maketh no reply,
Yet for a single word from him,
I ween that she would die.


May

The wind is tossing the lilacs,
The new leaves laugh in the sun,
And the petals fall on the orchard wall,
But for me the spring is done.

Beneath the apple blossoms
I go a wintry way,
For love that smiled in April
Is false to me in May.


Driftwood

My forefathers gave me
My spirit’s shaken flame,
The shape of hands, the beat of heart,
The letters of my name.

But it was my lovers,
And not my sleeping sires,
Who gave the flame its changeful
And iridescent fires;

As the driftwood burning
Learned its jewelled blaze
From the sea’s blue splendor
Of colored nights and days.


Wood Song

I heard a wood thrush in the dusk
Twirl three notes and make a star—
My heart that walked with bitterness
Came back from very far.

Three shining notes were all he had,
And yet they made a starry call—
I caught life back against my breast
And kissed it, scars and all.


November

The world is tired, the year is old,
The fading leaves are glad to die,
The wind goes shivering with cold
Where the brown reeds are dry.

Our love is dying like the grass,
And we who kissed grow coldly kind,
Half glad to see our old love pass
Like leaves along the wind.


The Prayer

My answered prayer came up to me,
And in the silence thus spake he:
“O you who prayed for me to come,
Your greeting is but cold and dumb.”

My heart made answer: “You are fair,
But I have prayed too long to care.
Why came you not when all was new,
And I had died for joy of you.”


The Cloud

I am a cloud in the heaven’s height,
The stars are lit for my delight,
Tireless and changeful, swift and free,
I cast my shadow on hill and sea—
But why do the pines on the mountain’s crest
Call to me always, “Rest, rest”?

I throw my mantle over the moon
And I blind the sun on his throne at noon,
Nothing can tame me, nothing can bind,
I am a child of the heartless wind—
But oh the pines on the mountain’s crest
Whispering always, “Rest, rest.”


In a Restaurant

The darkened street was muffled with the snow,
The falling flakes had made your shoulders white,
And when we found a shelter from the night
Its glamor fell upon us like a blow.
The clash of dishes and the viol and bow
Mingled beneath the fever of the light.
The heat was full of savors, and the bright
Laughter of women lured the wine to flow.
A little child ate nothing while she sat
Watching a woman at a table there
Lean to a kiss beneath a drooping hat.
The hour went by, we rose and turned to go,
The somber street received us from the glare,
And once more on your shoulders fell the snow.


Crowned

I wear a crown invisible and clear,
And go my lifted royal way apart
Since you have crowned me softly in your heart
With love that is half ardent, half austere;
And as a queen disguised might pass anear
The bitter crowd that barters in a mart,
Veiling her pride while tears of pity start,
I hide my glory through a jealous fear.
My crown shall stay a sweet and secret thing
Kept pure with prayer at evensong and morn,
And when you come to take it from my head,
I shall not weep, nor will a word be said,
But I shall kneel before you, oh my king,
And bind my brow forever with a thorn.


The Lighted Window

He said:
“In the winter dusk
When the pavements were gleaming with rain,
I walked through a dingy street
Hurried, harassed,
Thinking of all my problems that never are solved.
Suddenly out of the mist, a flaring gas-jet
Shone from a huddled shop.
I saw through the bleary window
A mass of playthings:
False-faces hung on strings,
Valentines, paper and tinsel,
Tops of scarlet and green,
Candy, marbles, jacks—
A confusion of color
Pathetically gaudy and cheap.
All of my boyhood
Rushed back.
Once more these things were treasures
Wildly desired.
With covetous eyes I looked again at the marbles,
The precious agates, the pee-wees, the chinies—
Then I passed on.

In the winter dusk,
The pavements were gleaming with rain;
There in the lighted window
I left my boyhood.”


A little while when I am gone
My life will live in music after me,
As spun foam lifted and borne on
After the wave is lost in the full sea.

A while these nights and days will burn
In song with the bright frailty of foam,
Living in light before they turn
Back to the nothingness that is their home.


Spring

In Central Park the lovers sit,
On every hilly path they stroll,
Each thinks his love is infinite,
And crowns his soul.

But we are cynical and wise,
We walk a careful foot apart,
You make a little joke that tries
To hide your heart.

Give over, we have laughed enough;
Oh dearest and most foolish friend,
Why do you wage a war with love
To lose your battle in the end?


Peace

Peace flows into me
As the tide to the pool by the shore;
It is mine forevermore,
It will not ebb like the sea.

I am the pool of blue
That worships the vivid sky;
My hopes were heaven-high,
They are all fulfilled in you.

I am the pool of gold
When sunset burns and dies—
You are my deepening skies;
Give me your stars to hold.


Leaves

One by one, like leaves from a tree,
All my faiths have forsaken me;
But the stars above my head
Burn in white and delicate red,
And beneath my feet the earth
Brings the sturdy grass to birth.
I who was content to be
But a silken-singing tree,
But a rustle of delight
In the wistful heart of night—
I have lost the leaves that knew
Touch of rain and weight of dew.
Blinded by a leafy crown
I looked neither up nor down—
But the little leaves that die
Have left me room to see the sky;
Now for the first time I know
Stars above and earth below.


In the Train

Fields beneath a quilt of snow
From which the rocks and stubble peep,
And in the west a shy white star
That shivers as it wakes from sleep.

The restless rumble of the train,
The drowsy people in the car,
Steel blue twilight in the world,
And in my heart a timid star.


Because

Oh, because you never tried
To bow my will or break my pride,
And nothing of the cave-man made
You want to keep me half afraid,
Nor ever with a conquering air
You thought to draw me unaware—
Take me, for I love you more
Than I ever loved before.

And since the body’s maidenhood
Alone were neither rare nor good
Unless with it I gave to you
A spirit still untrammeled, too,
Take my dreams and take my mind
That were masterless as wind;
And “Master!” I shall say to you
Since you never asked me to.


On the Death of Swinburne

He trod the earth but yesterday,
And now he treads the stars.
He left us in the April time
He praised so often in his rhyme,
He left the singing and the lyre and went his way.

He drew new music from our tongue,
A music subtly wrought,
And moulded words to his desire,
As wind doth mould a wave of fire;
From strangely fashioned harps slow golden tones he wrung.

I think the singing understands
That he who sang is still,
And Iseult cries that he is dead,—
Does not Dolores bow her head
And Fragoletta weep and wring her little hands?

New singing now the singer hears
To lyre and lute and harp;
Catullus waits to welcome him,
And through the twilight sweet and dim,
Sappho’s forgotten songs are falling on his ears.


Dooryard Roses

I have come the selfsame path
To the selfsame door,
Years have left the roses there
Burning as before.

While I watch them in the wind
Quick the hot tears start—
Strange so frail a flame outlasts
Fire in the heart.


The Mother of a Poet

She is too kind, I think, for mortal things,
Too gentle for the gusty ways of earth;
God gave to her a shy and silver mirth,
And made her soul as clear
And softly singing as an orchard spring’s
In sheltered hollows all the sunny year—
A spring that through the leaning grass looks up
And holds all heaven in its clarid cup,
Mirror to holy meadows high and blue
With stars like drops of dew.

I love to think that never tears at night
Have made her eyes less bright;
That all her girlhood through
Never a cry of love made over-tense
Her voice’s innocence;
That in her hands have lain,
Flowers beaten by the rain,
And little birds before they learned to sing
Drowned in the sudden ecstasy of spring.

I love to think that with a wistful wonder
She held her baby warm against her breast;
That never any fear awoke whereunder
She shuddered at her gift, or trembled lest
Through the great doors of birth
Here to a windy earth
She lured from heaven a half-unwilling guest.

She caught and kept his first vague flickering smile,
The faint upleaping of his spirit’s fire;
And for a long sweet while
In her was all he asked of earth or heaven—
But in the end how far,
Past every shaken star,
Should leap at last that arrow-like desire,
His full-grown manhood’s keen
Ardor toward the unseen
Dark mystery beyond the Pleiads seven.
And in her heart she heard
His first dim-spoken word—
She only of them all could understand,
Flushing to feel at last
The silence over-past,
Thrilling as though her hand had touched God’s hand.
But in the end how many words
Winged on a flight she could not follow,
Farther than skyward lark or swallow,
His lips should free to lands she never knew;
Braver than white sea-faring birds
With a fearless melody,
Flying over a shining sea,
A star-white song between the blue and blue.

Oh I have seen a lake as clear and fair
As it were molten air,
Lifting a lily upward to the sun.
How should the water know the glowing heart
That ever to the heaven lifts its fire,
A golden and unchangeable desire?
The water only knows
The faint and rosy glows
Of under-petals, opening apart.
Yet in the soul of earth,
Deep in the primal ground,
Its searching roots are wound,
And centuries have struggled toward its birth.
So, in the man who sings,
All of the voiceless horde
From the cold dawn of things
Have their reward;
All in whose pulses ran
Blood that is his at last,
From the first stooping man
Far in the winnowed past.
Out of the tumult of their love and mating
Each one created, seeing life was good—
Dumb, till at last the song that they were waiting
Breaks like brave April through a wintry wood.


The Tree of Song

I sang my songs for the rest,
For you I am still;
The tree of my song is bare
On its shining hill.

For you came like a lordly wind,
And the leaves were whirled
Far as forgotten things
Past the rim of the world.

The tree of my song stands bare
Against the blue—
I gave my songs to the rest,
Myself to you.


The Wanderer

I saw the sunset-colored sands,
The Nile like flowing fire between,
Where Rameses stares forth serene,
And Ammon’s heavy temple stands.

I saw the rocks where long ago,
Above the sea that cries and breaks,
Swift Perseus with Medusa’s snakes
Set free the maiden white like snow.

And many skies have covered me,
And many winds have blown me forth,
And I have loved the green, bright north,
And I have loved the cold, sweet sea.

But what to me are north and south,
And what the lure of many lands,
Since you have leaned to catch my hands
And lay a kiss upon my mouth.


A Ballad of Two Knights

Two knights rode forth at early dawn
A-seeking maids to wed,
Said one, “My lady must be fair,
With gold hair on her head.”

Then spake the other knight-at-arms:
“I care not for her face,
But she I love must be a dove
For purity and grace.”

And each knight blew upon his horn
And went his separate way,
And each knight found a lady-love
Before the fall of day.

But she was brown who should have had
The shining yellow hair—
I ween the knights forgot their words
Or else they ceased to care.

For he who wanted purity
Brought home a wanton wild,
And when each saw the other knight
I ween that each knight smiled.


Youth and the Pilgrim

Gray pilgrim, you have journeyed far,
I pray you tell to me
Is there a land where Love is not,
By shore of any sea?

For I am weary of the god,
And I would flee from him
Though I must take a ship and go
Beyond the ocean’s rim.

“I know a port where Love is not,
The ship is in your hand,
Then plunge your sword within your breast
And you will reach the land.”


To Cleïs

“I have a fair daughter with a form like a golden flower,
Cleïs, the beloved.”
—Sapphic fragment

When the dusk was wet with dew,
Cleïs, did the muses nine
Listen in a silent line
While your mother sang to you?

Did they weep or did they smile
When she crooned to still your cries,
She, a muse in human guise,
Who forsook her lyre awhile?

Did you feel her wild heart beat?
Did the warmth of all the sun
Through your little body run
When she kissed your hands and feet?

Did your fingers, babywise,
Touch her face and touch her hair,
Did you think your mother fair,
Could you bear her burning eyes?

Are the songs that soothed your fears
Vanished like a vanished flame,
Save the line where shines your name
Starlike down the graying years?

Cleïs speaks no word to me,
For the land where she has gone
Lieth mute at dusk and dawn
Like a windless tideless sea.


Dust

When I went to look at what had long been hidden,
A jewel laid long ago in a secret place,
I trembled, for I thought to see its dark deep fire—
But only a pinch of dust blew up in my face.

I almost gave my life long ago for a thing
That has gone to dust now, stinging my eyes—
It is strange how often a heart must be broken
Before the years can make it wise.


The Net

I made you many and many a song,
Yet never one told all you are—
It was as though a net of words
Were flung to catch a star;

It was as though I curved my hand
And dipped sea-water eagerly,
Only to find it lost the blue
Dark splendor of the sea.


Marianna Alcoforando

The Portuguese Nun—1640–1723

The sparrows wake beneath the convent eaves;
I think I have not slept the whole night through.
But I am old; the aged scarcely know
The times they wake and sleep, for life burns down;
They breathe the calm of death before they die.
The long night ends, the day comes creeping in,
Showing the sorrows that the darkness hid,
The bended head of Christ, the blood, the thorns,
The wall’s gray stains of damp, the pallet bed
Where little Sister Marta dreams of saints,
Waking with arms outstretched imploringly
That seek to stay a vision’s vanishing.
I never had a vision, yet for me
Our Lady smiled while all the convent slept
One winter midnight hushed around with snow—
I thought she might be kinder than the rest,
And so I came to kneel before her feet,
Sick with love’s sorrow and love’s bitterness.
But when I would have made the blessed sign,
I found the water frozen in the font,
And touched but ice within the carved stone.
The saints had hid themselves away from me,
Leaving the windows black against the night;
And when I sank upon the altar steps,
Before the Virgin Mother and her Child,
The last, pale, low-burnt taper flickered out,
But in the darkness, smooth and fathomless,
Still twinkled like a star the holy lamp
That cast a dusky glow upon her face.
Then through the numbing cold peace fell on me,
Submission and the gracious gift of tears,
For when I looked, Oh! blessed miracle,
Her lips had parted and Our Lady smiled!
And then I knew that Love is worth its pain
And that my heart was richer for his sake,
Since lack of love is bitterest of all.

The day is broad awake—the first long beam
Of level sun finds Sister Marta’s face,
And trembling there it lights a timid smile
Upon the lips that say so many prayers,
And have no words for hate and none for love.
But when she passes where her prayers have gone,
Will God not smile a little sadly then,
And send her back with gentle words to earth
That she may hold a child against her breast
And feel its little hands upon her hair?
We weep before the Blessed Mother’s shrine,
To think upon her sorrows, but her joys
What nun could ever know a tithing of?
The precious hours she watched above His sleep
Were worth the fearful anguish of the end.
Yea, lack of love is bitterest of all;
Yet I have felt what thing it is to know
One thought forever, sleeping or awake;
To say one name whose sweetness grows so strange
That it might work a spell on those who weep;
To feel the weight of love upon my heart
So heavy that the blood can scarcely flow.
Love comes to some unlooked-for, quietly,
As when at twilight, with a soft surprise,
We see the new-born crescent in the blue;
And unto others love is planet-like,
A cold and placid gleam that wavers not,
And there are those who wait the call of love
Expectant of his coming, as we watch
To see the east grow pallid ere the moon
Lifts up her flower-like head against the night.
Love came to me as comes a cruel sun,
That on some rain-drenched morning, when the leaves
Are bowed beneath their clinging weight of drops,
Tears through the mist, and burns with fervent heat
The tender grasses and the meadow flowers;
Then suddenly the heavy clouds close in
And through the dark the thunder’s muttering
Is drowned amid the dashing of the rain.

But I have seen my day grow calm again.
The sun sets slowly on a peaceful world,
And sheds a quiet light across the fields.


The Metropolitan Tower

We walked together in the dusk
To watch the tower grow dimly white,
And saw it lift against the sky
Its flower of amber light.

You talked of half a hundred things,
I kept each little word you said;
And when at last the hour was full,
I saw the light turn red.

You did not know the time had come,
You did not see the sudden flower,
Nor know that in my heart Love’s birth
Was reckoned from that hour.


Beyond the dim Hesperides,
The girl who sang them long ago
Could never dream that over seas,
Beyond the dim Hesperides,
The wind would blow such songs as these—
I wonder now if she can know,
Beyond the dim Hesperides,
The girl who sang them long ago?


From the Sea

All beauty calls you to me, and you seem,
Past twice a thousand miles of shifting sea,
To reach me. You are as the wind I breathe
Here on the ship’s sun-smitten topmost deck,
With only light between the heavens and me.
I feel your spirit and I close my eyes,
Knowing the bright hair blowing in the sun,
The eager whisper and the searching eyes.

Listen, I love you. Do not turn your face
Nor touch me. Only stand and watch awhile
The blue unbroken circle of the sea.
Look far away and let me ease my heart
Of words that beat in it with broken wing.
Look far away, and if I say too much,
Forget that I am speaking. Only watch,
How like a gull that sparkling sinks to rest,
The foam-crest drifts along a happy wave
Toward the bright verge, the boundary of the world.

I am so weak a thing, praise me for this,
That in some strange way I was strong enough
To keep my love unuttered and to stand
Although I longed to kneel to you that night
You looked at me with ever-calling eyes.
Was I not calm? And if you guessed my love
You thought it something delicate and free,
Soft as the sound of fir-trees in the wind,
Fleeting as phosphorescent stars in foam.
Yet in my heart there was a beating storm
Bending my thoughts before it, and I strove
To say too little lest I say too much,
And from my eyes to drive love’s happy shame.
Yet when I heard your name the first far time
It seemed like other names to me, and I
Was all unconscious, as a dreaming river
That nears at last its long predestined sea;
And when you spoke to me, I did not know
That to my life’s high altar came its priest.
But now I know between my God and me
You stand forever, nearer God than I,
And in your hands with faith and utter joy
I would that I could lay my woman’s soul.

Oh, my love
To whom I cannot come with any gift
Of body or of soul, I pass and go.
But sometimes when you hear blown back to you
My wistful, far-off singing touched with tears,
Know that I sang for you alone to hear,
And that I wondered if the wind would bring
To him who tuned my heart its distant song.
So might a woman who in loneliness
Had borne a child, dreaming of days to come,
Wonder if it would please its father’s eyes.
But long before I ever heard your name,
Always the undertone’s unchanging note
In all my singing had prefigured you,
Foretold you as a spark foretells a flame.
Yet I was free as an untethered cloud
In the great space between the sky and sea,
And might have blown before the wind of joy
Like a bright banner woven by the sun.
I did not know the longing in the night—
You who have waked me cannot give me sleep.
All things in all the world can rest, but I,
Even the smooth brief respite of a wave
When it gives up its broken crown of foam,
Even that little rest I may not have.
And yet all quiet loves of friends, all joy
In all the piercing beauty of the world
I would give up—go blind forevermore,
Rather than have God blot from out my soul
Remembrance of your voice that said my name.

For us no starlight stilled the April fields,
No birds awoke in darkling trees for us,
Yet where we walked the city’s street that night
Felt in our feet the singing fire of spring,
And in our path we left a trail of light
Soft as the phosphorescence of the sea
When night submerges in the vessel’s wake
A heaven of unborn evanescent stars.


To Rose

Rose, when I remember you,
Little lady, scarcely two,
I am suddenly aware
Of the angels in the air.
All your softly gracious ways
Make an island in my days
Where my thoughts fly back to be
Sheltered from too strong a sea.
All your luminous delight
Shines before me in the night
When I grope for sleep and find
Only shadows in my mind.

Rose, when I remember you,
White and glowing, pink and new,
With so swift a sense of fun
Although life has just begun;
With so sure a pride of place
In your very infant face,
I should like to make a prayer
To the angels in the air:
“If an angel ever brings
Me a baby in her wings,
Please be certain that it grows
Very, very much like Rose.”


At Night

We are apart; the city grows quiet between us,
She hushes herself, for midnight makes heavy her eyes,
The tangle of traffic is ended, the cars are empty,
Five streets divide us, and on them the moonlight lies.

Oh are you asleep, or lying awake, my lover?
Open your dreams to my love and your heart to my words,
I send you my thoughts—the air between us is laden,
My thoughts fly in at your window, a flock of wild birds.


Spring Rain

I thought I had forgotten,
But it all came back again
Tonight with the first spring thunder
In a rush of rain.

I remembered a darkened doorway
Where we stood while the storm swept by,
Thunder gripping the earth
And lightning scrawled on the sky.

The passing motor buses swayed,
For the street was a river of rain,
Lashed into little golden waves
In the lamp light’s stain.

With the wild spring rain and thunder
My heart was wild and gay;
Your eyes said more to me that night
Than your lips would ever say…

I thought I had forgotten,
But it all came back again
Tonight with the first spring thunder
In a rush of rain.


June Night

Oh Earth, you are too dear tonight,
How can I sleep while all around
Floats rainy fragrance and the far
Deep voice of the ocean that talks to the ground?

Oh Earth, you gave me all I have,
I love you, I love you,—oh what have I
That I can give you in return—
Except my body after I die?


Only in sleep I see their faces,
Children I played with when I was a child,
Louise comes back with her brown hair braided,
Annie with ringlets warm and wild.

Only in sleep Time is forgotten—
What may have come to them, who can know?
Yet we played last night as long ago,
And the doll-house stood at the turn of the stair.

The years had not sharpened their smooth round faces,
I met their eyes and found them mild—
Do they, too, dream of me, I wonder,
And for them am I too a child?


Longing

I am not sorry for my soul
That it must go unsatisfied,
For it can live a thousand times,
Eternity is deep and wide.

I am not sorry for my soul,
But oh, my body that must go
Back to a little drift of dust
Without the joy it longed to know.


Night in Arizona

The moon is a charring ember
Dying into the dark;
Off in the crouching mountains
Coyotes bark.

The stars are heavy in heaven,
Too great for the sky to hold—
What if they fell and shattered
The earth with gold?

No lights are over the mesa,
The wind is hard and wild,
I stand at the darkened window
And cry like a child.


Deep in the Night

Deep in the night the cry of a swallow,
Under the stars he flew,
Keen as pain was his call to follow
Over the world to you.

Love in my heart is a cry forever
Lost as the swallow’s flight,
Seeking for you and never, never
Stilled by the stars at night.


The Flight

Look back with longing eyes and know that I will follow,
Lift me up in your love as a light wind lifts a swallow,
Let our flight be far in sun or blowing rain—
But what if I heard my first love calling me again?

Hold me on your heart as the brave sea holds the foam,
Take me far away to the hills that hide your home;
Peace shall thatch the roof and love shall latch the door—
But what if I heard my first love calling me once more?


White Fog

Heaven-invading hills are drowned
In wide moving waves of mist,
Phlox before my door are wound
In dripping wreaths of amethyst.

Ten feet away the solid earth
Changes into melting cloud,
There is a hush of pain and mirth,
No bird has heart to speak aloud.

Here in a world without a sky,
Without the ground, without the sea,
The one unchanging thing is I,
Myself remains to comfort me.


Pain

Waves are the sea’s white daughters,
And raindrops the children of rain,
But why for my shimmering body
Have I a mother like Pain?

Night is the mother of stars,
And wind the mother of foam—
The world is brimming with beauty,
But I must stay at home.


Grandfather’s Love

They said he sent his love to me,
They wouldn’t put it in my hand,
And when I asked them where it was
They said I couldn’t understand.

I thought they must have hidden it,
I hunted for it all the day,
And when I told them so at night
They smiled and turned their heads away.

They say that love is something kind,
That I can never see or touch.
I wish he’d sent me something else,
I like his cough-drops twice as much.


Guenevere

I was a queen, and I have lost my crown;
A wife, and I have broken all my vows;
A lover, and I ruined him I loved:—
There is no other havoc left to do.
A little month ago I was a queen,
And mothers held their babies up to see
When I came riding out of Camelot.
The women smiled, and all the world smiled too.
And now, what woman’s eyes would smile on me?
I still am beautiful, and yet what child
Would think of me as some high, heaven-sent thing,
An angel, clad in gold and miniver?
The world would run from me, and yet am I
No different from the queen they used to love.
If water, flowing silver over stones,
Is forded, and beneath the horses’ feet
Grows turbid suddenly, it clears again,
And men will drink it with no thought of harm.
Yet I am branded for a single fault.

I was the flower amid a toiling world,
Where people smiled to see one happy thing,
And they were proud and glad to raise me high;
They only asked that I should be right fair,
A little kind, and gowned wondrously,
And surely it were little praise to me
If I had pleased them well throughout my life.

I was a queen, the daughter of a king.
The crown was never heavy on my head,
It was my right, and was a part of me.
The women thought me proud, the men were kind,
And bowed right gallantly to kiss my hand,
And watched me as I passed them calmly by,
Along the halls I shall not tread again.
What if, tonight, I should revisit them?
The warders at the gates, the kitchen-maids,
The very beggars would stand off from me,
And I, their queen, would climb the stairs alone,
Pass through the banquet-hall, a loathed thing,
And seek my chambers for a hiding-place,
And I should find them but a sepulchre,
The very rushes rotted on the floors,
The fire in ashes on the freezing hearth.
I was a queen, and he who loved me best
Made me a woman for a night and day,
And now I go unqueened forevermore.
A queen should never dream on summer eves,
When hovering spells are heavy in the dusk:—
I think no night was ever quite so still,
So smoothly lit with red along the west,
So deeply hushed with quiet through and through.
And strangely clear, and deeply dyed with light,
The trees stood straight against a paling sky,
With Venus burning lamp-like in the west.

I walked alone amid a thousand flowers,
That drooped their heads and drowsed beneath the dew,
And all my thoughts were quieted to sleep.
Behind me, on the walk, I heard a step—
I did not know my heart could tell his tread,
I did not know I loved him till that hour.
Within my breast I felt a wild, sick pain,
The garden reeled a little, I was weak,
And quick he came behind me, caught my arms,
That ached beneath his touch; and then I swayed,
My head fell backward and I saw his face.

All this grows bitter that was once so sweet,
And many mouths must drain the dregs of it.
But none will pity me, nor pity him
Whom Love so lashed, and with such cruel thongs.


A Boy

Out of the noise of tired people working,
Harried with thoughts of war and lists of dead,
His beauty met me like a fresh wind blowing,
Clean boyish beauty and high-held head.

Eyes that told secrets, lips that would not tell them,
Fearless and shy the young unwearied eyes—
Men die by millions now, because God blunders,
Yet to have made this boy he must be wise.


Over the Roofs

I

Oh chimes set high on the sunny tower
Ring on, ring on unendingly,
Make all the hours a single hour,
For when the dusk begins to flower,
The man I love will come to me! …

But no, go slowly as you will,
I should not bid you hasten so,
For while I wait for love to come,
Some other girl is standing dumb,
Fearing her love will go.

II

Oh white steam over the roofs, blow high!
Oh chimes in the tower ring clear and free !
Oh sun awake in the covered sky,
For the man I love, loves me! …

Oh drifting steam disperse and die,
Oh tower stand shrouded toward the south,—
Fate heard afar my happy cry,
And laid her finger on my mouth.

III

The dusk was blue with blowing mist,
The lights were spangles in a veil,
And from the clamor far below
Floated faint music like a wail.

It voiced what I shall never speak,
My heart was breaking all night long,
But when the dawn was hard and gray,
My tears distilled into a song.

IV

I said, “I have shut my heart
As one shuts an open door,
That Love may starve therein
And trouble me no more.”

But over the roofs there came
The wet new wind of May,
And a tune blew up from the curb
Where the street-pianos play.

My room was white with the sun
And Love cried out in me,
“I am strong, I will break your heart
Unless you set me free.”


The Unseen

Death went up the hall
Unseen by every one,
Trailing twilight robes
Past the nurse and the nun.

He paused at every door
And listened to the breath
Of those who did not know
How near they were to Death.

Death went up the hall
Unseen by nurse and nun;
He passed by many a door—
But he entered one.


Dew

I dream that he is mine,
I dream that he is true,
And all his words I keep
As rose-leaves hold the dew.

O little thirsty rose,
O little heart beware,
Lest you should hope to hold
A hundred roses’ share.


Message

I heard a cry in the night,
A thousand miles it came,
Sharp as a flash of light,
My name, my name!

It was your voice I heard,
You waked and loved me so—
I send you back this word,
I know, I know!


Alchemy

I lift my heart as spring lifts up
A yellow daisy to the rain;
My heart will be a lovely cup
Although it holds but pain.

For I shall learn from flower and leaf
That color every drop they hold,
To change the lifeless wine of grief
To living gold.


At Night

Love said, “Wake still and think of me,”
Sleep, “Close your eyes till break of day,”
But Dreams came by and smilingly
Gave both to Love and Sleep their way.


Nahant

Bowed as an elm under the weight of its beauty,
So earth is bowed, under her weight of splendor,
Molten sea, richness of leaves and the burnished
Bronze of sea-grasses.

Clefts in the cliff shelter the purple sand-peas
And chicory flowers bluer than the ocean
Flinging its foam high, white fire in sunshine,
Jewels of water.

Joyous thunder of blown waves on the ledges,
Make me forget war and the dark war-sorrow—
Against the sky a sentry paces the sea-cliff
Slim in his khaki.


Lessons

Unless I learn to ask no help
From any other soul but mine,
To seek no strength in waving reeds
Nor shade beneath a straggling pine;
Unless I learn to look at Grief
Unshrinking from her tear-blind eyes,
And take from Pleasure fearlessly
Whatever gifts will make me wise—
Unless I learn these things on earth,
Why was I ever given birth?


A Winter Bluejay

Crisply the bright snow whispered,
Crunching beneath our feet;
Behind us as we walked along the parkway,
Our shadows danced,
Fantastic shapes in vivid blue.
Across the lake the skaters
Flew to and fro,
With sharp turns weaving
A frail invisible net.
In ecstasy the earth
Drank the silver sunlight;
In ecstasy the skaters
Drank the wine of speed;
In ecstasy we laughed
Drinking the wine of love.
Had not the music of our joy
Sounded its highest note?
But no,
For suddenly, with lifted eyes you said,
“Oh look!”
There, on the black bough of a snow flecked maple,
Fearless and gay as our love,
A bluejay cocked his crest!
Oh who can tell the range of joy
Or set the bounds of beauty?


I hid three words within my heart,
That longed to fly to him,
At dawn they woke me with a start,
They sang till day was dim.

And now at last I let them fly,
As little birds should do,
And he will know the first is “I",
The others “Love” and “You".


The Lamp

If I can bear your love like a lamp before me,
When I go down the long steep Road of Darkness,
I shall not fear the everlasting shadows,
Nor cry in terror.

If I can find out God, then I shall find Him,
If none can find Him, then I shall sleep soundly,
Knowing how well on earth your love sufficed me,
A lamp in darkness.


Oh you are coming, coming, coming,
How will hungry Time put by the hours till then?—
But why does it anger my heart to long so
For one man out of the world of men?

Oh I would live in myself only
And build my life lightly and still as a dream—
Are not my thoughts clearer than your thoughts
And colored like stones in a running stream?

Now the slow moon brightens in heaven,
The stars are ready, the night is here—
Oh why must I lose myself to love you,
My dear?


Places

Places I love come back to me like music,
Hush me and heal me when I am very tired;
I see the oak woods at Saxton’s flaming
In a flare of crimson by the frost newly fired;
And I am thirsty for the spring in the valley
As for a kiss ungiven and long desired.

I know a bright world of snowy hills at Boonton,
A blue and white dazzling light on everything one sees,
The ice-covered branches of the hemlocks sparkle
Bending low and tinkling in the sharp thin breeze,
And iridescent crystals fall and crackle on the snow-crust
With the winter sun drawing cold blue shadows from the trees.

Violet now, in veil on veil of evening
The hills across from Cromwell grow dreamy and far;
A wood-thrush is singing soft as a viol
In the heart of the hollow where the dark pools are;
The primrose has opened her pale yellow flowers
And heaven is lighting star after star.

Places I love come back to me like music—
Mid-ocean, midnight, the waves buzz drowsily;
In the ship’s deep churning the eerie phosphorescence
Is like the souls of people who were drowned at sea,
And I can hear a man’s voice, speaking, hushed, insistent,
At midnight, in mid-ocean, hour on hour to me.


I Remembered

There never was a mood of mine,
Gay or heart-broken, luminous or dull,
But you could ease me of its fever
And give it back to me more beautiful.

In many another soul I broke the bread,
And drank the wine and played the happy guest,
But I was lonely, I remembered you;
The heart belongs to him who knew it best.


Lovely Chance

O lovely chance, what can I do
To give my gratefulness to you?
You rise between myself and me
With a wise persistency;
I would have broken body and soul,
But by your grace, still I am whole.
Many a thing you did to save me,
Many a holy gift you gave me,
Music and friends and happy love
More than my dearest dreaming of;
And now in this wide twilight hour
With earth and heaven a dark, blue flower,
In a humble mood I bless
Your wisdom—and your waywardness.
You brought me even here, where I
Live on a hill against the sky
And look on mountains and the sea
And a thin white moon in the pepper tree.


A Minuet of Mozart’s

Across the dimly lighted room
The violin drew wefts of sound,
Airily they wove and wound
And glimmered gold against the gloom.

I watched the music turn to light,
But at the pausing of the bow,
The web was broken and the glow
Was drowned within the wave of night.


I thought of you and how you love this beauty,
And walking up the long beach all alone
I heard the waves breaking in measured thunder
As you and I once heard their monotone.

Around me were the echoing dunes, beyond me
The cold and sparkling silver of the sea—
We two will pass through death and ages lengthen
Before you hear that sound again with me.


Sappho

I

Midnight, and in the darkness not a sound,
So, with hushed breathing, sleeps the autumn night;
Only the white immortal stars shall know,
Here in the house with the low-lintelled door,
How, for the last time, I have lit the lamp.
I think you are not wholly careless now,
Walls that have sheltered me so many an hour,
Bed that has brought me ecstasy and sleep,
Floors that have borne me when a gale of joy
Lifted my soul and made me half a god.
Farewell! Across the threshold many feet
Shall pass, but never Sappho’s feet again.
Girls shall come in whom love has made aware
Of all their swaying beauty—they shall sing,
But never Sappho’s voice, like golden fire,
Shall seek for heaven through your echoing rafters.
There shall be swallows bringing back the spring
Over the long blue meadows of the sea,
And south-wind playing on the reeds of rain,
But never Sappho’s whisper in the night,
Never her love-cry when the lover comes.
Farewell! I close the door and make it fast.

The little street lies meek beneath the moon,
Running, as rivers run, to meet the sea.
I too go seaward and shall not return.
Oh garlands on the doorposts that I pass,
Woven of asters and of autumn leaves,
I make a prayer for you: Cypris be kind,
That every lover may be given love.
I shall not hasten lest the paving stones
Should echo with my sandals and awake
Those who are warm beneath the cloak of sleep,
Lest they should rise and see me and should say,
“Whither goes Sappho lonely in the night?”
Whither goes Sappho? Whither all men go,
But they go driven, straining back with fear,
And Sappho goes as lightly as a leaf
Blown from brown autumn forests to the sea.

Here on the rock Zeus lifted from the waves,
I shall await the waking of the dawn,
Lying beneath the weight of dark as one
Lies breathless, till the lover shall awake.
And with the sun the sea shall cover me—
I shall be less than the dissolving foam
Murmuring and melting on the ebbing tide;
I shall be less than spindrift, less than shells;
And yet I shall be greater than the gods,
For destiny no more can bow my soul
As rain bows down the watch-fires on the hills.
Yes, if my soul escape it shall aspire
To the white heaven as flame that has its will.
I go not bitterly, not dumb with pain,
Not broken by the ache of love—I go
As one grown tired lies down and hopes to sleep.
Yet they shall say: “It was for Cercolas;
She died because she could not bear her love.”
They shall remember how we used to walk
Here on the cliff beneath the oleanders
In the long limpid twilight of the spring,
Looking toward Lemnos, where the amber sky
Was pierced with the faint arrow of a star.
How should they know the wind of a new beauty
Sweeping my soul had winnowed it with song?
I have been glad though love should come or go,
Happy as trees that find a wind to sway them,
Happy again when it has left them rest.
Others shall say, “Grave Dica wrought her death.
She would not lift her lips to take a kiss,
Or ever lift her eyes to take a smile.
She was a pool the winter paves with ice
That the wild hunter in the hills must leave
With thirst unslaked in the brief southward sun.”
Ah Dica, it is not for thee I go;
And not for Phaon, though his ship lifts sail
Here in the windless harbor for the south.
Oh, darkling deities that guard the Nile,
Watch over one whose gods are far away.
Egypt, be kind to him, his eyes are deep—
Yet they are wrong who say it was for him.
How should they know that Sappho lived and died
Faithful to love, not faithful to the lover,
Never transfused and lost in what she loved,
Never so wholly loving nor at peace.
I asked for something greater than I found,
And every time that love has made me weep,
I have rejoiced that love could be so strong;
For I have stood apart and watched my soul
Caught in the gust of passion, as a bird
With baffled wings against the dusty whirlwind
Struggles and frees itself to find the sky.
It is not for a single god I go;
I have grown weary of the winds of heaven.
I will not be a reed to hold the sound
Of whatsoever breath the gods may blow,
Turning my torment into music for them.
They gave me life; the gift was bountiful,
I lived with the swift singing strength of fire,
Seeking for beauty as a flame for fuel—
Beauty in all things and in every hour.
The gods have given life—I gave them song;
The debt is paid and now I turn to go.

The breath of dawn blows the stars out like lamps,
There is a rim of silver on the sea,
As one grown tired who hopes to sleep, I go.

II

Oh Litis, little slave, why will you sleep?
These long Egyptian noons bend down your head
Bowed like the yarrow with a yellow bee.
There, lift your eyes no man has ever kindled,
Dark eyes that wait like faggots for the fire.
See how the temple’s solid square of shade
Points north to Lesbos, and the splendid sea
That you have never seen, oh evening-eyed.
Yet have you never wondered what the Nile
Is seeking always, restless and wild with spring
And no less in the winter, seeking still?
How shall I tell you? Can you think of fields
Greater than Gods could till, more blue than night
Sown over with the stars; and delicate
With filmy nets of foam that come and go?
It is more cruel and more compassionate
Than harried earth. It takes with unconcern
And quick forgetting, rapture of the rain
And agony of thunder, the moon’s white
Soft-garmented virginity, and then
The insatiable ardor of the sun.
And me it took. But there is one more strong,
Love, that came laughing from the elder seas,
The Cyprian, the mother of the world;
She gave me love who only asked for death—
I who had seen much sorrow in men’s eyes
And in my own too sorrowful a fire.
I was a sister of the stars, and yet
Shaken with pain; sister of birds and yet
The wings that bore my soul were very tired.
I watched the careless spring too many times
Light her green torches in a hungry wind;
Too many times I watched them flare, and then
Fall to forsaken embers in the autumn.
And I was sick of all things—even song.
In the dull autumn dawn I turned to death,
Buried my living body in the sea,
The strong cold sea that takes and does not give—
But there is one more strong, the Cyprian.
Litis, to wake from sleep and find your eyes
Met in their first fresh upward gaze by love,
Filled with love’s happy shame from other eyes,
Dazzled with tenderness and drowned in light
As though you looked unthinking at the sun,
Oh Litis, that is joy! But if you came
Not from the sunny shallow pool of sleep,
But from the sea of death, the strangling sea
Of night and nothingness, and waked to find
Love looking down upon you, glad and still,
Strange and yet known forever, that is peace.
So did he lean above me. Not a word
He spoke; I only heard the morning sea
Singing against his happy ship, the keen
And straining joy of wind-awakened sails
And songs of mariners, and in myself
The precious pain of arms that held me fast.
They warmed the cold sea out of all my blood;
I slept, feeling his eyes above my sleep.
There on the ship with wines and olives laden,
Led by the stars to far invisible ports,
Egypt and islands of the inner seas,
Love came to me, and Cercolas was love.

III

The twilight’s inner flame grows blue and deep,
And in my Lesbos, over leagues of sea,
The temples glimmer moon-wise in the trees.
Twilight has veiled the little flower-face
Here on my heart, but still the night is kind
And leaves her warm sweet weight against my breast.
Am I that Sappho who would run at dusk
Along the surges creeping up the shore
When tides came in to ease the hungry beach,
And running, running till the night was black,
Would fall forespent upon the chilly sand
And quiver with the winds from off the sea?
Ah quietly the shingle waits the tides
Whose waves are stinging kisses, but to me
Love brought no peace, nor darkness any rest.
I crept and touched the foam with fevered hands
And cried to Love, from whom the sea is sweet,
From whom the sea is bitterer than death.
Ah, Aphrodite, if I sing no more
To thee, God’s daughter, powerful as God,
It is that thou hast made my life too sweet
To hold the added sweetness of a song.
There is a quiet at the heart of love,
And I have pierced the pain and come to peace
I hold my peace, my Cleïs, on my heart;
And softer than a little wild bird’s wing
Are kisses that she pours upon my mouth.
Ah never anymore when spring like fire
Will flicker in the newly opened leaves,
Shall I steal forth to seek for solitude
Beyond the lure of light Alcaeus’ lyre,
Beyond the sob that stilled Erinna’s voice.
Ah, never with a throat that aches with song,
Beneath the white uncaring sky of spring,
Shall I go forth to hide awhile from Love
The quiver and the crying of my heart.
Still I remember how I strove to flee
The love-note of the birds, and bowed my head
To hurry faster, but upon the ground
I saw two wingèd shadows side by side,
And all the world’s spring passion stifled me.
Ah, Love there is no fleeing from thy might,
No lonely place where thou hast never trod,
No desert thou hast left uncarpeted
With flowers that spring beneath thy perfect feet.
In many guises didst thou come to me;
I saw thee by the maidens while they danced,
Phaon allured me with a look of thine,
In Anactoria I knew thy grace,
I looked at Cercolas and saw thine eyes;
But never wholly, soul and body mine,
Didst thou bid any love me as I loved.
Now have I found the peace that fled from me;
Close, close against my heart I hold my world.
Ah, Love that made my life a lyric cry,
Ah, Love that tuned my lips to lyres of thine,
I taught the world thy music, now alone
I sing for one who falls asleep to hear.


The Long Hill

I must have passed the crest a while ago
And now I am going down—
Strange to have crossed the crest and not to know,
But the brambles were always catching the hem of my gown.

All the morning I thought how proud I should be
To stand there straight as a queen,
Wrapped in the wind and the sun with the world under me—
But the air was dull, there was little I could have seen.

It was nearly level along the beaten track
And the brambles caught in my gown—
But it’s no use now to think of turning back,
The rest of the way will be only going down.


I am not yours, not lost in you,
Not lost, although I long to be
Lost as a candle lit at noon,
Lost as a snowflake in the sea.

You love me, and I find you still
A spirit beautiful and bright,
Yet I am I, who long to be
Lost as a light is lost in light.

Oh plunge me deep in love—put out
My senses, leave me deaf and blind,
Swept by the tempest of your love,
A taper in a rushing wind.


My heart is heavy with many a song
Like ripe fruit bearing down the tree,
But I can never give you one—
My songs do not belong to me.

Yet in the evening, in the dusk
When moths go to and fro,
In the gray hour if the fruit has fallen,
Take it, no one will know.


Night Song at Amalfi

I asked the heaven of stars
What I should give my love—
It answered me with silence,
Silence above.

I asked the darkened sea
Down where the fishers go—
It answered me with silence,
Silence below.

Oh, I could give him weeping,
Or I could give him song—
But how can I give silence,
My whole life long?


Vignettes Overseas

I. Off Gibraltar

Beyond the sleepy hills of Spain,
The sun goes down in yellow mist,
The sky is fresh with dewy stars
Above a sea of amethyst.

Yet in the city of my love
High noon burns all the heavens bare—
For him the happiness of light,
For me a delicate despair.

II. Off Algiers

Oh give me neither love nor tears,
Nor dreams that sear the night with fire,
Go lightly on your pilgrimage
Unburdened by desire.

Forget me for a month, a year,
But, oh, beloved, think of me
When unexpected beauty burns
Like sudden sunlight on the sea.

III. Naples

Nisida and Prosida are laughing in the light,
Capri is a dewy flower lifting into sight,
Posilipo kneels and looks in the burnished sea,
Naples crowds her million roofs close as close can be;
Round about the mountain’s crest a flag of smoke is hung—
Oh when God made Italy he was gay and young!

IV. Capri

When beauty grows too great to bear
How shall I ease me of its ache,
For beauty more than bitterness
Makes the heart break.

Now while I watch the dreaming sea
With isles like flowers against her breast,
Only one voice in all the world
Could give me rest.

V. Night Song at Amalfi

I asked the heaven of stars
What I should give my love—
It answered me with silence,
Silence above.

I asked the darkened sea
Down where the fishers go—
It answered me with silence,
Silence below.

Oh, I could give him weeping,
Or I could give him song—
But how can I give silence
My whole life long?

VI. Ruins of Paestum

On lowlands where the temples lie
The marsh-grass mingles with the flowers,
Only the little songs of birds
Link the unbroken hours.

So in the end, above my heart
Once like the city wild and gay,
The slow white stars will pass by night,
The swift brown birds by day.

VII. Rome

Oh for the rising moon
Over the roofs of Rome,
And swallows in the dusk
Circling a darkened dome!

Oh for the measured dawns
That pass with folded wings—
How can I let them go
With unremembered things?

VIII. Florence

The bells ring over the Anno,
Midnight, the long, long chime;
Here in the quivering darkness
I am afraid of time.

Oh, gray bells cease your tolling,
Time takes too much from me,
And yet to rock and river
He gives eternity.

IX. Villa Serbelloni, Bellaggio

The fountain shivers lightly in the rain,
The laurels drip, the fading roses fall,
The marble satyr plays a mournful strain
That leaves the rainy fragrance musical.

Oh dripping laurel, Phoebus sacred tree,
Would that swift Daphne’s lot might come to me,
Then would I still my soul and for an hour
Change to a laurel in the glancing shower.

X. Stresa

The moon grows out of the hills
A yellow flower,
The lake is a dreamy bride
Who waits her hour.

Beauty has filled my heart,
It can hold no more,
It is full, as the lake is full,
From shore to shore.

XI. Hamburg

The day that I come home,
What will you find to say,—
Words as light as foam
With laughter light as spray?

Yet say what words you will
The day that I come home;
I shall hear the whole deep ocean
Beating under the foam.


The River

I came from the sunny valleys
And sought for the open sea,
For I thought in its gray expanses
My peace would come to me.

I came at last to the ocean
And found it wild and black,
And I cried to the windless valleys,
“Be kind and take me back!”

But the thirsty tide ran inland,
And the salt waves drank of me,
And I who was fresh as the rainfall
Am bitter as the sea.


From the Woolworth Tower

Vivid with love, eager for greater beauty
Out of the night we come
Into the corridor, brilliant and warm.
A metal door slides open,
And the lift receives us.
Swiftly, with sharp unswerving flight
The car shoots upward,
And the air, swirling and angry,
Howls like a hundred devils.
Past the maze of trim bronze doors,
Steadily we ascend.
I cling to you
Conscious of the chasm under us,
And a terrible whirring deafens my ears.

The flight is ended.

We pass through a door leading onto the ledge—
Wind, night and space
Oh terrible height
Why have we sought you?
Oh bitter wind with icy invisible wings
Why do you beat us?
Why would you bear us away?
We look through the miles of air,
The cold blue miles between us and the city,
Over the edge of eternity we look
On all the lights,
A thousand times more numerous than the stars;
Oh lines and loops of light in unwound chains
That mark for miles and miles
The vast black mazy cobweb of the streets;
Near us clusters and splashes of living gold
That change far off to bluish steel
Where the fragile lights on the Jersey shore
Tremble like drops of wind-stirred dew.
The strident noises of the city
Floating up to us
Are hallowed into whispers.
Ferries cross through the darkness
Weaving a golden thread into the night,
Their whistles weird shadows of sound.

We feel the millions of humanity beneath us,—
The warm millions, moving under the roofs,
Consumed by their own desires;
Preparing food,
Sobbing alone in a garret,
With burning eyes bending over a needle,
Aimlessly reading the evening paper,
Dancing in the naked light of the café,
Laying out the dead,
Bringing a child to birth—
The sorrow, the torpor, the bitterness, the frail joy
Come up to us
Like a cold fog wrapping us round.
Oh in a hundred years
Not one of these blood-warm bodies
But will be worthless as clay.
The anguish, the torpor, the toil
Will have passed to other millions
Consumed by the same desires.
Ages will come and go,
Darkness will blot the lights
And the tower will be laid on the earth.
The sea will remain
Black and unchanging,
The stars will look down
Brilliant and unconcerned.

Beloved,
Though sorrow, futility, defeat
Surround us,
They cannot bear us down.
Here on the abyss of eternity
Love has crowned us
For a moment
Victors.


Pierrot’s Song

Lady, light in the east hangs low,
Draw your veils of dream apart,
Under the casement stands Pierrot
Making a song to ease his heart.
(Yet do not break the song too soon—
I love to sing in the paling moon.)

The petals are falling, heavy with dew,
The stars have fainted out of the sky,
Come to me, come, or else I too,
Faint with the weight of love will die.
(She comes—alas, I hoped to make
Another stanza for her sake!)


The Treasure

When they see my songs
They will sigh and say,
“Poor soul, wistful soul,
Lonely night and day.”

They will never know
All your love for me
Surer than the spring,
Stronger than the sea;

Hidden out of sight
Like a miser’s gold
In forsaken fields
Where the wind is cold.


Faces

People that I meet and pass
In the city’s broken roar,
Faces that I lose so soon
And have never found before,

Do you know how much you tell
In the meeting of our eyes,
How ashamed I am, and sad
To have pierced your poor disguise?

Secrets rushing without sound
Crying from your hiding places—
Let me go, I cannot bear
The sorrow of the passing faces.

—People in the restless street,
Can it be, oh can it be
In the meeting of our eyes
That you know as much of me?


If Death Is Kind

Perhaps if Death is kind, and there can be returning,
We will come back to earth some fragrant night,
And take these lanes to find the sea, and bending
Breathe the same honeysuckle, low and white.

We will come down at night to these resounding beaches
And the long gentle thunder of the sea,
Here for a single hour in the wide starlight
We shall be happy, for the dead are free.


Dreams

I gave my life to another lover,
I gave my love, and all, and all—
But over a dream the past will hover,
Out of a dream the past will call.

I tear myself from sleep with a shiver
But on my breast a kiss is hot,
And by my bed the ghostly giver
Is waiting though I see him not.


The Coin

Into my heart’s treasury
I slipped a coin
That time cannot take
Nor a thief purloin,—
Oh better than the minting
Of a gold-crowned king
Is the safe-kept memory
Of a lovely thing.


The Lights of New York

The lightning spun your garment for the night
Of silver filaments with fire shot through,
A broidery of lamps that lit for you
The steadfast splendor of enduring light.
The moon drifts dimly in the heaven’s height,
Watching with wonder how the earth she knew
That lay so long wrapped deep in dark and dew,
Should wear upon her breast a star so white.
The festivals of Babylon were dark
With flaring flambeaux that the wind blew down;
The Saturnalia were a wild boy’s lark
With rain-quenched torches dripping through the town—
But you have found a god and filched from him
A fire that neither wind nor rain can dim.


In a Subway Station

After a year I came again to the place;
The tireless lights and the reverberation,
The angry thunder of trains that burrow the ground,
The hunted, hurrying people were still the same—
But oh, another man beside me and not you!
Another voice and other eyes in mine!
And suddenly I turned and saw again
The gleaming curve of tracks, the bridge above—
They were burned deep into my heart before,
The night I watched them to avoid your eyes,
When you were saying, “Oh, look up at me!”
When you were saying, “Will you never love me?”
And when I answered with a lie. Oh then
You dropped your eyes. I felt your utter pain.
I would have died to say the truth to you.
After a year I came again to the place—
The hunted hurrying people were still the same…


In the Carpenter’s Shop

Mary sat in the corner dreaming,
Dim was the room and low,
While in the dusk, the saw went screaming
To and fro.

Jesus and Joseph toiled together,
Mary was watching them,
Thinking of kings in the wintry weather
At Bethlehem.

Mary sat in the corner thinking,
Jesus had grown a man;
One by one her hopes were sinking
As the years ran.

Jesus and Joseph toiled together,
Mary’s thoughts were far—
Angels sang in the wintry weather
Under a star.

Mary sat in the corner weeping,
Bitter and hot her tears—
Little faith were the angels keeping
All the years.


Red Maples

In the last year I have learned
How few men are worth my trust;
I have seen the friend I loved
Struck by death into the dust,
And fears I never knew before
Have knocked and knocked upon my door—
“I shall hope little and ask for less,”
I said, “There is no happiness.”

I have grown wise at last—but how
Can I hide the gleam on the willow-bough,
Or keep the fragrance out of the rain
Now that April is here again?
When maples stand in a haze of fire
What can I say to the old desire,
What shall I do with the joy in me
That is born out of agony?


Galahad in the Castle of the Maidens

To the maiden with the hidden face in Abbey’s painting

The other maidens raised their eyes to him
Who stumbled in before them when the fight
Had left him victor, with a victor’s right.
I think his eyes with quick hot tears grew dim;
He scarcely saw her swaying white and slim,
And trembling slightly, dreaming of his might,
Nor knew he touched her hand, as strangely light
As a wan wraith’s beside a river’s rim.
The other maidens raised their eyes to see
And only she has hid her face away,
And yet I ween she loved him more than they,
And very fairly fashioned was her face.
Yet for Love’s shame and sweet humility,
She dared not meet him with their queenlike grace.


After Love

There is no magic anymore,
We meet as other people do,
You work no miracle for me
Nor I for you.

You were the wind and I the sea—
There is no splendor anymore,
I have grown listless as the pool
Beside the shore.

But though the pool is safe from storm
And from the tide has found surcease,
It grows more bitter than the sea,
For all its peace.


May Night

The spring is fresh and fearless
And every leaf is new,
The world is brimmed with moonlight,
The lilac brimmed with dew.

Here in the moving shadows
I catch my breath and sing—
My heart is fresh and fearless
And over-brimmed with spring.


Love and Death

Shall we, too, rise forgetful from our sleep,
And shall my soul that lies within your hand
Remember nothing, as the blowing sand
Forgets the palm where long blue shadows creep
When winds along the darkened desert sweep?
Or would it still remember, though it spanned
A thousand heavens, while the planets fanned
The vacant ether with their voices deep?
Soul of my soul, no word shall be forgot,
Nor yet alone, beloved, shall we see
The desolation of extinguished suns,
Nor fear the void wherethro’ our planet runs,
For still together shall we go and not
Fare forth alone to front eternity.


“I Love You”

When April bends above me
And finds me fast asleep,
Dust need not keep the secret
A live heart died to keep.

When April tells the thrushes,
The meadow-larks will know,
And pipe the three words lightly
To all the winds that blow.

Above his roof the swallows,
In notes like far-blown rain,
Will tell the little sparrow
Beside his window-pane.

O sparrow, little sparrow,
When I am fast asleep,
Then tell my love the secret
That I have died to keep.


The Broken Field

My soul is a dark ploughed field
In the cold rain;
My soul is a broken field
Ploughed by pain.

Where grass and bending flowers
Were growing,
The field lies broken now
For another sowing.

Great Sower when you tread
My field again,
Scatter the furrows there
With better grain.


Less than the Cloud to the Wind

Less than the cloud to the wind,
Less than the foam to the sea,
Less than the rose to the storm
Am I to thee.

More than the star to the night,
More than the rain to the lea,
More than heaven to earth
Art thou to me.


The Unchanging

Sun-swept beaches with a light wind blowing
From the immense blue circle of the sea,
And the soft thunder where long waves whiten—
These were the same for Sappho as for me.

Two thousand years—much has gone by forever,
Change takes the gods and ships and speech of men—
But here on the beaches that time passes over
The heart aches now as then.


Morning

I went out on an April morning
All alone, for my heart was high,
I was a child of the shining meadow,
I was a sister of the sky.

There in the windy flood of morning
Longing lifted its weight from me,
Lost as a sob in the midst of cheering,
Swept as a sea-bird out to sea.


When Love Goes

I

O mother, I am sick of love,
I cannot laugh nor lift my head,
My bitter dreams have broken me,
I would my love were dead.

“Drink of the draught I brew for thee,
Thou shalt have quiet in its stead.”

II

Where is the silver in the rain,
Where is the music in the sea,
Where is the bird that sang all day
To break my heart with melody?

“The night thou badst Love fly away,
He hid them all from thee.”


There will come soft rains and the smell of the ground,
And swallows circling with their shimmering sound;

And frogs in the pools singing at night,
And wild plum-trees in tremulous white;

Robins will wear their feathery fire
Whistling their whims on a low fence-wire;

And not one will know of the war, not one
Will care at last when it is done.

Not one would mind, neither bird nor tree
If mankind perished utterly;

And Spring herself, when she woke at dawn,
Would scarcely know that we were gone.


Song at Capri

When beauty grows too great to bear
How shall I ease me of its ache,
For beauty more than bitterness
Makes the heart break.

Now while I watch the dreaming sea
With isles like flowers against her breast,
Only one voice in all the world
Could give me rest.


The Carpenter’s Son

The summer dawn came over-soon,
The earth was like hot iron at noon
In Nazareth;
There fell no rain to ease the heat,
And dusk drew on with tired feet
And stifled breath.

The shop was low and hot and square,
And fresh-cut wood made sharp the air,
While all day long
The saw went tearing through the oak
That moaned as though the tree’s heart broke
Beneath its wrong.

The narrow street was full of cries,
Of bickering and snarling lies
In many keys—
The tongues of Egypt and of Rome
And lands beyond the shifting foam
Of windy seas.

Sometimes a ruler riding fast
Scattered the dark crowds as he passed,
And drove them close
In doorways, drawing broken breath
Lest they be trampled to their death
Where the dust rose.

There in the gathering night and noise
A group of Galilean boys
Crowding to see
Gray Joseph toiling with his son,
Saw Jesus, when the task was done,
Turn wearily.

He passed them by with hurried tread
Silently, nor raised his head,
He who looked up
Drinking all beauty from his birth
Out of the heaven and the earth
As from a cup.

And Mary, who was growing old,
Knew that the pottage would be cold
When he returned;
He hungered only for the night,
And westward, bending sharp and bright,
The thin moon burned.

He reached the open western gate
Where whining halt and leper wait,
And came at last
To the blue desert, where the deep
Great seas of twilight lay asleep,
Windless and vast.

With shining eyes the stars awoke,
The dew lay heavy on his cloak,
The world was dim;
And in the stillness he could hear
His secret thoughts draw very near
And call to him.

Faint voices lifted shrill with pain
And multitudinous as rain;
From all the lands
And all the villages thereof
Men crying for the gift of love
With outstretched hands.

Voices that called with ceaseless crying,
The broken and the blind, the dying,
And those grown dumb
Beneath oppression, and he heard
Upon their lips a single word,
“Come!”

Their cries engulfed him like the night,
The moon put out her placid light
And black and low
Nearer the heavy thunder drew,
Hushing the voices… yet he knew
That he would go.

A quick-spun thread of lightning burns,
And for a flash the day returns—
He only hears
Joseph, an old man bent and white
Toiling alone from morn till night
Through all the years.

Swift clouds make all the heavens blind,
A storm is running on the wind—
He only sees
How Mary will stretch out her hands
Sobbing, who never understands
Voices like these.


Other Men

When I talk with other men
I always think of you—
Your words are keener than their words,
And they are gentler, too.

When I look at other men,
I wish your face were there,
With its gray eyes and dark skin
And tossed black hair.

When I think of other men,
Dreaming alone by day,
The thought of you like a strong wind
Blows the dreams away.


I know the stars by their names,
Aldebaran, Altair,
And I know the path they take
Up heaven’s broad blue stair.

I know the secrets of men
By the look of their eyes,
Their gray thoughts, their strange thoughts
Have made me sad and wise.

But your eyes are dark to me
Though they seem to call and call—
I cannot tell if you love me
Or do not love me at all.

I know many things,
But the years come and go,
I shall die not knowing
The thing I long to know.


Ebb Tide

When the long day goes by
And I do not see your face,
The old wild, restless sorrow
Steals from its hiding place.

My day is barren and broken,
Bereft of light and song,
A sea beach bleak and windy
That moans the whole day long.

To the empty beach at ebb tide,
Bare with its rocks and scars,
Come back like the sea with singing,
And light of a million stars.


City Vignettes

Dawn

The greenish sky glows up in misty reds,
The purple shadows turn to brick and stone,
The dreams wear thin, men turn upon their beds,
And hear the milk-cart jangle by alone.

Dusk

The city’s street, a roaring blackened stream
Walled in by granite, through whose thousand eyes
A thousand yellow lights begin to gleam,
And over all the pale untroubled skies.

Rain at Night

The street-lamps shine in a yellow line
Down the splashy, gleaming street,
And the rain is heard now loud now blurred
By the tread of homing feet.


Jewels

If I should see your eyes again,
I know how far their look would go—
Back to a morning in the park
With sapphire shadows on the snow.

Or back to oak trees in the spring
When you unloosed my hair and kissed
The head that lay against your knees
In the leaf shadow’s amethyst.

And still another shining place
We would remember—how the dun
Wild mountain held us on its crest
One diamond morning white with sun.

But I will turn my eyes from you
As women turn to put away
The jewels they have worn at night
And cannot wear in sober day.


Paris in Spring

The city’s all a-shining
Beneath a fickle sun,
A gay young wind’s a-blowing,
The little shower is done.
But the rain-drops still are clinging
And falling one by one—
Oh it’s Paris, it’s Paris,
And spring-time has begun.

I know the Bois is twinkling
In a sort of hazy sheen,
And down the Champs the gray old arch
Stands cold and still between.
But the walk is flecked with sunlight
Where the great acacias lean,
Oh it’s Paris, it’s Paris,
And the leaves are growing green.

The sun’s gone in, the sparkle’s dead,
There falls a dash of rain,
But who would care when such an air
Comes blowing up the Seine?
And still Ninette sits sewing
Beside her window-pane,
When it’s Paris, it’s Paris,
And spring-time’s come again.


Anadyomene

The wide, bright temple of the world I found,
And entered from the dizzy infinite
That I might kneel and worship thee in it;
Leaving the singing stars their ceaseless round
Of silver music sound on orbed sound,
For measured spaces where the shrines are lit,
And men with wisdom or with little wit
Implore the gods that mercy may abound.
Ah, Aphrodite, was it not from thee
My summons came across the endless spaces?
Mother of Love, turn not thy face from me
Now that I seek for thee in human faces;
Answer my prayer or set my spirit free
Again to drift along the starry places.


Gray Fog

A fog drifts in, the heavy laden
Cold white ghost of the sea—
One by one the hills go out,
The road and the pepper-tree.

I watch the fog float in at the window
With the whole world gone blind,
Everything, even my longing, drowses,
Even the thoughts in my mind.

I put my head on my hands before me,
There is nothing left to be done or said,
There is nothing to hope for, I am tired,
And heavy as the dead.


The Silent Battle

He was a soldier in that fight
Where there is neither flag nor drum,
And without sound of musketry
The stealthy foemen come.

Year in, year out, by day and night
They forced him to a slow retreat,
And for his gallant fight alone
No fife was blown, and no drum beat.

In winter fog, in gathering mist
The gray grim battle had its end—
And at the very last we knew
His enemy had turned his friend.


Swallow Flight

I love my hour of wind and light,
I love men’s faces and their eyes,
I love my spirit’s veering flight
Like swallows under evening skies.


Gray Eyes

It was April when you came
The first time to me,
And my first look in your eyes
Was like my first look at the sea.

We have been together
Four Aprils now
Watching for the green
On the swaying willow bough;

Yet whenever I turn
To your gray eyes over me,
It is as though I looked
For the first time at the sea.


A Prayer

When I am dying, let me know
That I loved the blowing snow
Although it stung like whips;
That I loved all lovely things
And I tried to take their stings
With gay unembittered lips;
That I loved with all my strength,
To my soul’s full depth and length,
Careless if my heart must break,
That I sang as children sing
Fitting tunes to everything,
Loving life for its own sake.


A Maiden

Oh if I were the velvet rose
Upon the red rose vine,
I’d climb to touch his window
And make his casement fine.

And if I were the little bird
That twitters on the tree,
All day I’d sing my love for him
Till he should harken me.

But since I am a maiden
I go with downcast eyes,
And he will never hear the songs
That he has turned to sighs.

And since I am a maiden
My love will never know
That I could kiss him with a mouth
More red than roses blow.


February

They spoke of him I love
With cruel words and gay;
My lips kept silent guard
On all I could not say.

I heard, and down the street
The lonely trees in the square
Stood in the winter wind
Patient and bare.

I heard… oh voiceless trees
Under the wind, I knew
The eager terrible spring
Hidden in you.


Rispetto

Was that his step that sounded on the stair?
Was that his knock I heard upon the door?
I grow so tired I almost cease to care,
And yet I would that he might come once more.

It was the wind I heard, that mocks at me,
The bitter wind that is more cruel than he;
It was the wind that knocked upon the door,
But he will never knock nor enter more.


Song

Love me with your whole heart
Or give no love to me,
Half-love is a poor thing,
Neither bond nor free.

You must love me gladly
Soul and body too,
Or else find a new love,
And good-by to you.


Across the twilight’s violet
His curtained window glimmers gold;
Oh happy light that round my love
Can fold.

Oh happy book within his hand,
Oh happy page he glorifies,
Oh happy little word beneath
His eyes.

But oh, thrice happy, happy I
Who love him more than songs can tell,
For in the heaven of his heart
I dwell.


Vox Corporis

The beast to the beast is calling,
And the soul bends down to wait;
Like the stealthy lord of the jungle,
The white man calls his mate.

The beast to the beast is calling,
They rush through the twilight sweet,
But the soul is a wary hunter,
He will not let them meet.


O dreams that flock about my sleep,
I pray you bring my love to me,
And let me think I hear his voice
Again ring free.

And if you care to please me well,
And live tomorrow in my mind,
Let him who was so cold before,
Tonight seem kind.


I cannot heed the words they say,
The lights grow far away and dim,
Amid the laughing men and maids
My eyes unbidden seek for him.

I hope that when he smiles at me
He does not guess my joy and pain,
For if he did, he is too kind
To ever look my way again.


I Shall Not Care

When I am dead and over me bright April
Shakes out her rain-drenched hair,
Though you should lean above me broken-hearted,
I shall not care.

I shall have peace, as leafy trees are peaceful
When rain bends down the bough,
And I shall be more silent and cold-hearted
Than you are now.


Thoughts

When I am all alone
Envy me most,
Then my thoughts flutter round me
In a glimmering host;

Some dressed in silver,
Some dressed in white,
Each like a taper
Blossoming light;

Most of them merry,
Some of them grave,
Each of them lithe
As willows that wave;

Some bearing violets,
Some bearing bay,
One with a burning rose
Hidden away—

When I am all alone
Envy me then,
For I have better friends
Than women and men.


The Kiss

I hoped that he would love me,
And he has kissed my mouth,
But I am like a stricken bird
That cannot reach the south.

For though I know he loves me,
Tonight my heart is sad;
His kiss was not so wonderful
As all the dreams I had.


If you were Lady Beatrice
And I the Florentine,
I’d never waste my time like this—
If you were Lady Beatrice
I’d woo and then demand a kiss,
Nor weep like Dante here, I ween,
If you were Lady Beatrice
And I the Florentine.


Barter

Life has loveliness to sell,
All beautiful and splendid things,
Blue waves whitened on a cliff,
Soaring fire that sways and sings,
And children’s faces looking up
Holding wonder like a cup.

Life has loveliness to sell,
Music like a curve of gold,
Scent of pine trees in the rain,
Eyes that love you, arms that hold,
And for your spirit’s still delight,
Holy thoughts that star the night.

Spend all you have for loveliness,
Buy it and never count the cost;
For one white singing hour of peace
Count many a year of strife well lost,
And for a breath of ecstasy
Give all you have been, or could be.


In a Burying Ground

This is the spot where I will lie
When life has had enough of me,
These are the grasses that will blow
Above me like a living sea.

These gay old lilies will not shrink
To draw their life from death of mine,
And I will give my body’s fire
To make blue flowers on this vine.

“O Soul,” I said, “have you no tears?
Was not the body dear to you?”
I heard my soul say carelessly,
“The myrtle flowers will grow more blue.”


Day and Night

In Warsaw in Poland
Half the world away,
The one I love best of all
Thought of me to-day;

I know, for I went
Winged as a bird,
In the wide flowing wind
His own voice I heard;

His arms were round me
In a ferny place,
I looked in the pool
And there was his face—

But now it is night
And the cold stars say:
“Warsaw in Poland
Is half the world away.”


Sappho

The twilight’s inner flame grows blue and deep,
And in my Lesbos, over leagues of sea,
The temples glimmer moonwise in the trees.
Twilight has veiled the little flower face
Here on my heart, but still the night is kind
And leaves her warm sweet weight against my breast.
Am I that Sappho who would run at dusk
Along the surges creeping up the shore
When tides came in to ease the hungry beach,
And running, running, till the night was black,
Would fall forespent upon the chilly sand
And quiver with the winds from off the sea?
Ah, quietly the shingle waits the tides
Whose waves are stinging kisses, but to me
Love brought no peace, nor darkness any rest.
I crept and touched the foam with fevered hands
And cried to Love, from whom the sea is sweet,
From whom the sea is bitterer than death.
Ah, Aphrodite, if I sing no more
To thee, God’s daughter, powerful as God,
It is that thou hast made my life too sweet
To hold the added sweetness of a song.
There is a quiet at the heart of love,
And I have pierced the pain and come to peace.
I hold my peace, my Cleïs, on my heart;
And softer than a little wild bird’s wing
Are kisses that she pours upon my mouth.
Ah, never any more when spring like fire
Will flicker in the newly opened leaves,
Shall I steal forth to seek for solitude
Beyond the lure of light Alcaeus’ lyre,
Beyond the sob that stilled Erinna’s voice.
Ah, never with a throat that aches with song,
Beneath the white uncaring sky of spring,
Shall I go forth to hide awhile from Love
The quiver and the crying of my heart.
Still I remember how I strove to flee
The love-note of the birds, and bowed my head
To hurry faster, but upon the ground
I saw two winged shadows side by side,
And all the world’s spring passion stifled me.
Ah, Love, there is no fleeing from thy might,
No lonely place where thou hast never trod,
No desert thou hast left uncarpeted
With flowers that spring beneath thy perfect feet.
In many guises didst thou come to me;
I saw thee by the maidens while they danced,
Phaon allured me with a look of thine,
In Anactoria I knew thy grace,
I looked at Cercolas and saw thine eyes;
But never wholly, soul and body mine,
Didst thou bid any love me as I loved.
Now I have found the peace that fled from me;
Close, close, against my heart I hold my world.
Ah, Love that made my life a lyric cry,
Ah, Love that tuned my lips to lyres of thine,
I taught the world thy music, now alone
I sing for one who falls asleep to hear.


The Wind

A wind is blowing over my soul,
I hear it cry the whole night through—
Is there no peace for me on earth
Except with you?

Alas, the wind has made me wise,
Over my naked soul it blew,—
There is no peace for me on earth
Even with you.


Change

Remember me as I was then;
Turn from me now, but always see
The laughing shadowy girl who stood
At midnight by the flowering tree,
With eyes that love had made as bright
As the trembling stars of the summer night.

Turn from me now, but always hear
The muted laughter in the dew
Of that one year of youth we had,
The only youth we ever knew—
Turn from me now, or you will see
What other years have done to me.


Spray

I knew you thought of me all night,
I knew, though you were far away;
I felt your love blow over me
As if a dark wind-riven sea
Drenched me with quivering spray.

There are so many ways to love
And each way has its own delight—
Then be content to come to me
Only as spray the beating sea
Drives inland through the night.


The dreams of my heart and my mind pass,
Nothing stays with me long,
But I have had from a child
The deep solace of song;

If that should ever leave me,
Let me find death and stay
With things whose tunes are played out and forgotten
Like the rain of yesterday.


August Moonrise

The sun was gone, and the moon was coming
Over the blue Connecticut hills;
The west was rosy, the east was flushed,
And over my head the swallows rushed
This way and that, with changeful wills.
I heard them twitter and watched them dart
Now together and now apart
Like dark petals blown from a tree;
The maples stamped against the west
Were black and stately and full of rest,
And the hazy orange moon grew up
And slowly changed to yellow gold
While the hills were darkened, fold on fold
To a deeper blue than a flower could hold.
Down the hill I went, and then
I forgot the ways of men,
For night-scents, heady, and damp and cool
Wakened ecstasy in me
On the brink of a shining pool.

O Beauty, out of many a cup
You have made me drunk and wild
Ever since I was a child,
But when have I been sure as now
That no bitterness can bend
And no sorrow wholly bow
One who loves you to the end?
And though I must give my breath
And my laughter all to death,
And my eyes through which joy came,
And my heart, a wavering flame;
If all must leave me and go back
Along a blind and fearful track
So that you can make anew,
Fusing with intenser fire,
Something nearer your desire;
If my soul must go alone
Through a cold infinity,
Or even if it vanish, too,
Beauty, I have worshipped you.

Let this single hour atone
For the theft of all of me.


Madeira from the Sea

Out of the delicate dream of the distance an emerald emerges
Veiled in the violet folds of the air of the sea;
Softly the dream grows awakening—shimmering white of a city,
Splashes of crimson, the gay bougainvillea, the palms.
High in the infinite blue of its heaven a quiet cloud lingers,
Lost and forgotten of winds that have fallen asleep,
Fallen asleep to the tune of a Portuguese song in a garden.


It is not a word spoken,
Few words are said;
Nor even a look of the eyes
Nor a bend of the head,
But only a hush of the heart
That has too much to keep,
Only memories waking
That sleep so light a sleep.


Water Lilies

If you have forgotten water lilies floating
On a dark lake among mountains in the afternoon shade,
If you have forgotten their wet, sleepy fragrance,
Then you can return and not be afraid.

But if you remember, then turn away forever
To the plains and the prairies where pools are far apart,
There you will not come at dusk on closing water lilies,
And the shadow of mountains will not fall on your heart.


The Shrine

There is no lord within my heart,
Left silent as an empty shrine
Where rose and myrtle intertwine,
Within a place apart.

No god is there of carven stone
To watch with still approving eyes
My thoughts like steady incense rise;
I dream and weep alone.

But if I keep my altar fair,
Some morning I shall lift my head
From roses deftly garlanded
To find the god is there.


The Fountain

All through the deep blue night
The fountain sang alone;
It sang to the drowsy heart
Of the satyr carved in stone.

The fountain sang and sang,
But the satyr never stirred—
Only the great white moon
In the empty heaven heard.

The fountain sang and sang
While on the marble rim
The milk-white peacocks slept,
And their dreams were strange and dim.

Bright dew was on the grass,
And on the ilex, dew,
The dreamy milk-white birds
Were all a-glisten, too.

The fountain sang and sang
The things one cannot tell;
The dreaming peacocks stirred
And the gleaming dew-drops fell.


From the North

The northern woods are delicately sweet,
The lake is folded softly by the shore,
But I am restless for the subway’s roar,
The thunder and the hurrying of feet.
I try to sleep, but still my eyelids beat
Against the image of the tower that bore
Me high aloft, as if through heaven’s door
I watched the world from God’s unshaken seat.
I would go back and breathe with quickened sense
The tunnel’s strong hot breath of powdered steel;
But at the ferries I should leave the tense
Dark air behind, and I should mount and be
One among many who are thrilled to feel
The first keen sea-breath from the open sea.


Redbirds

Redbirds, redbirds,
Long and long ago,
What a honey-call you had
In hills I used to know;

Redbud, buckberry,
Wild plum-tree
And proud river sweeping
Southward to the sea,

Brown and gold in the sun
Sparkling far below,
Trailing stately round her bluffs
Where the poplars grow—

Redbirds, redbirds,
Are you singing still
As you sang one May day
On Saxton’s Hill?


Testament

I said, “I will take my life
And throw it away;
I who was fire and song
Will turn to clay.”

“I will lie no more in the night
With shaken breath,
I will toss my heart in the air
To be caught by Death.”

But out of the night I heard,
Like the inland sound of the sea,
The hushed and terrible sob
Of all humanity.

Then I said, “Oh who am I
To scorn God to his face?
I will bow my head and stay
And suffer with my race.”


Dead leaves upon the stream
And dead leaves on the air—
All of my lost hopes seem
Dead leaves upon the stream;
I watch them in a dream,
Going I know not where,
Dead leaves upon the stream
And dead leaves on the air.


The Old Maid

I saw her in a Broadway car,
The woman I might grow to be;
I felt my lover look at her
And then turn suddenly to me.

Her hair was dull and drew no light
And yet its color was as mine;
Her eyes were strangely like my eyes
Though love had never made them shine.

Her body was a thing grown thin,
Hungry for love that never came;
Her soul was frozen in the dark
Unwarmed forever by love’s flame.

I felt my lover look at her
And then turn suddenly to me,—
His eyes were magic to defy
The woman I shall never be.


Moonlight

It will not hurt me when I am old,
A running tide where moonlight burned
Will not sting me like silver snakes;
The years will make me sad and cold,
It is the happy heart that breaks.

The heart asks more than life can give,
When that is learned, then all is learned;
The waves break fold on jewelled fold,
But beauty itself is fugitive,
It will not hurt me when I am old.


Buried Love

I have come to bury Love
Beneath a tree,
In the forest tall and black
Where none can see.

I shall put no flowers at his head,
Nor stone at his feet,
For the mouth I loved so much
Was bittersweet.

I shall go no more to his grave,
For the woods are cold.
I shall gather as much of joy
As my hands can hold.

I shall stay all day in the sun
Where the wide winds blow,—
But oh, I shall cry at night
When none will know.


The Ghost

I went back to the clanging city,
I went back where my old loves stayed,
But my heart was full of my new love’s glory,
My eyes were laughing and unafraid.

I met one who had loved me madly
And told his love for all to hear—
But we talked of a thousand things together,
The past was buried too deep to fear.

I met the other, whose love was given
With never a kiss and scarcely a word—
Oh, it was then the terror took me
Of words unuttered that breathed and stirred.

Oh, love that lives its life with laughter
Or love that lives its life with tears
Can die—but love that is never spoken
Goes like a ghost through the winding years…

I went back to the clanging city,
I went back where my old loves stayed,
My heart was full of my new love’s glory,—
But my eyes were suddenly afraid.


Spring in War Time

I feel the Spring far off, far off,
The faint far scent of bud and leaf—
Oh how can Spring take heart to come
To a world in grief,
Deep grief?

The sun turns north, the days grow long,
Later the evening star grows bright—
How can the daylight linger on
For men to fight,
Still fight?

The grass is waking in the ground,
Soon it will rise and blow in waves—
How can it have the heart to sway
Over the graves,
New graves?

Under the boughs where lovers walked
The apple-blooms will shed their breath—
But what of all the lovers now
Parted by death,
Gray Death?


Enough

It is enough for me by day
To walk the same bright earth with him;
Enough that over us by night
The same great roof of stars is dim.

I do not hope to bind the wind
Or set a fetter on the sea—
It is enough to feel his love
Blow by like music over me.


The Kiss

Before you kissed me only winds of heaven
Had kissed me, and the tenderness of rain—
Now you have come, how can I care for kisses
Like theirs again?

I sought the sea, she sent her winds to meet me,
They surged about me singing of the south—
I turned my head away to keep still holy
Your kiss upon my mouth.

And swift sweet rains of shining April weather
Found not my lips where living kisses are;
I bowed my head lest they put out my glory
As rain puts out a star.

I am my love’s and he is mine forever,
Sealed with a seal and safe forevermore—
Think you that I could let a beggar enter
Where a king stood before?


To Erinna

Was Time not harsh to you, or was he kind,
O pale Erinna of the perfect lyre,
That he has left no word of singing fire
Whereby you waked the dreaming Lesbian wind,
And kindled night along the lyric shore?
O girl whose lips Erato stooped to kiss,
Do you go sorrowing because of this
In fields where poets sing forevermore?
Or are you glad and is it best to be
A silent music men have never heard,
A dream in all our souls that we may say:
“Her voice had all the rapture of the sea,
And all the clear cool quiver of a bird
Deep in a forest at the break of day"?


Debtor

So long as my spirit still
Is glad of breath
And lifts its plumes of pride
In the dark face of death;
While I am curious still
Of love and fame,
Keeping my heart too high
For the years to tame,
How can I quarrel with fate
Since I can see
I am a debtor to life,
Not life to me?


The Garden

My heart is a garden tired with autumn,
Heaped with bending asters and dahlias heavy and dark,
In the hazy sunshine, the garden remembers April,
The drench of rains and a snow-drop quick and clear as a spark;

Daffodils blowing in the cold wind of morning,
And golden tulips, goblets holding the rain—
The garden will be hushed with snow, forgotten soon, forgotten—
After the stillness, will spring come again?


After Death

Now while my lips are living
Their words must stay unsaid,
And will my soul remember
To speak when I am dead?

Yet if my soul remembered
You would not heed it, dear,
For now you must not listen,
And then you could not hear.


Beatrice

Send out the singers—let the room be still;
They have not eased my pain nor brought me sleep.
Close out the sun, for I would have it dark
That I may feel how black the grave will be.
The sun is setting, for the light is red,
And you are outlined in a golden fire,
Like Ursula upon an altar-screen.
Come, leave the light and sit beside my bed,
For I have had enough of saints and prayers.
Strange broken thoughts are beating in my brain,
They come and vanish and again they come.
It is the fever driving out my soul,
And Death stands waiting by the arras there.

Ornella, I will speak, for soon my lips
Shall keep a silence till the end of time.
You have a mouth for loving—listen then:
Keep tryst with Love before Death comes to tryst;
For I, who die, could wish that I had lived
A little closer to the world of men,
Not watching always through the blazoned panes
That show the world in chilly greens and blues
And grudge the sunshine that would enter in.
I was no part of all the troubled crowd
That moved beneath the palace windows here,
And yet sometimes a knight in shining steel
Would pass and catch the gleaming of my hair,
And wave a mailed hand and smile at me,
Whereat I made no sign and turned away,
Affrighted and yet glad and full of dreams.
Ah, dreams and dreams that asked no answering!
I should have wrought to make my dreams come true,
But all my life was like an autumn day,
Full of gray quiet and a hazy peace.

What was I saying? All is gone again.
It seemed but now I was the little child
Who played within a garden long ago.
Beyond the walls the festal trumpets blared.
Perhaps they carried some Madonna by
With tossing ensigns in a sea of flowers,
A painted Virgin with a painted Child,
Who saw for once the sweetness of the sun
Before they shut her in an altar-niche
Where tapers smoke against the windy gloom.
I gathered roses redder than my gown
And played that I was Saint Elizabeth,
Whose wine had turned to roses in her hands.
And as I played, a child came through the gate,
A boy who looked at me without a word,
As though he saw stretch far behind my head
Long lines of radiant angels, row on row.
That day we spoke a little, timidly,
And after that I never heard the voice
That sang so many songs for love of me.
He was content to stand and watch me pass,
To seek for me at matins every day,
Where I could feel his eyes the while I prayed.
I think if he had stretched his hands to me,
Or moved his lips to say a single word,
I might have loved him—he had wondrous eyes.

Ornella, are you there? I cannot see—
Is every one so lonely when he dies?

The room is filled with lights—with waving lights—
Who are the men and women ’round the bed?
What have I said, Ornella? Have they heard?
There was no evil hidden in my life,
And yet, and yet, I would not have them know—

Am I not floating in a mist of light?
O lift me up and I shall reach the sun!


Love in Autumn

I sought among the drifting leaves,
The golden leaves that once were green,
To see if Love were hiding there
And peeping out between.

For through the silver showers of May
And through the summer’s heavy heat,
In vain I sought his golden head
And light, fast-flying feet.

Perhaps when all the world is bare
And cruel winter holds the land,
The Love that finds no place to hide
Will run and catch my hand.

I shall not care to have him then,
I shall be bitter and a-cold—
It grows too late for frolicking
When all the world is old.

Then little hiding Love, come forth,
Come forth before the autumn goes,
And let us seek through ruined paths
The garden’s last red rose.


What am I that he should love me,
He who stands so far above me,
What am I?
I am like a cowslip turning
Toward the sky,
Where a planet’s golden burning
Breaks the cowslip’s heart with yearning,
What am I that he should love me,
What am I?


Snow Song

Fairy snow, fairy snow,
Blowing, blowing everywhere,
Would that I
Too, could fly
Lightly, lightly through the air.

Like a wee, crystal star
I should drift, I should blow
Near, more near,
To my dear
Where he comes through the snow.

I should fly to my love
Like a flake in the storm,
I should die,
I should die,
On his lips that are warm.


What do I care, in the dreams and the languor of spring,
That my songs do not show me at all?
For they are a fragrance, and I am a flint and a fire,
I am an answer, they are only a call.

But what do I care, for love will be over so soon,
Let my heart have its say and my mind stand idly by,
For my mind is proud and strong enough to be silent,
It is my heart that makes my songs, not I.


Love Me

Brown-thrush singing all day long
In the leaves above me,
Take my love this April song,
“Love me, love me, love me!”

When he harkens what you say,
Bid him, lest he miss me,
Leave his work or leave his play,
And kiss me, kiss me, kiss me!


Immortal

So soon my body will have gone
Beyond the sound and sight of men,
And though it wakes and suffers now,
Its sleep will be unbroken then;
But oh, my frail immortal soul
That will not sleep forevermore,
A leaf borne onward by the blast,
A wave that never finds the shore.


The India Wharf

Here in the velvet stillness
The wide sown fields fall to the faint horizon,
Sleeping in starlight…

A year ago we walked in the jangling city
Together… forgetful.
One by one we crossed the avenues,
Rivers of light, roaring in tumult,
And came to the narrow, knotted streets.
Through the tense crowd
We went aloof, ecstatic, walking in wonder,
Unconscious of our motion.
Forever the foreign people with dark, deep-seeing eyes
Passed us and passed.
Lights and foreign words and foreign faces,
I forgot them all;
I only felt alive, defiant of all death and sorrow,
Sure and elated.

That was the gift you gave me…

The streets grew still more tangled,
And led at last to water black and glossy,
Flecked here and there with lights, faint and far off.
There on a shabby building was a sign
“The India Wharf”… and we turned back.

I always felt we could have taken ship
And crossed the bright green seas
To dreaming cities set on sacred streams
And palaces
Of ivory and scarlet.


Eight O’Clock

Supper comes at five o’clock,
At six, the evening star,
My lover comes at eight o’clock—
But eight o’clock is far.

How could I bear my pain all day
Unless I watched to see
The clock-hands laboring to bring
Eight o’clock to me.


Riches

I have no riches but my thoughts,
Yet these are wealth enough for me;
My thoughts of you are golden coins
Stamped in the mint of memory;

And I must spend them all in song,
For thoughts, as well as gold, must be
Left on the hither side of death
To gain their immortality.


To an Aeolian Harp

The winds have grown articulate in thee,
And voiced again the wail of ancient woe
That smote upon the winds of long ago:
The cries of Trojan women as they flee,
The quivering moan of pale Andromache,
Now lifted loud with pain and now brought low.
It is the soul of sorrow that we know,
As in a shell the soul of all the sea.
So sometimes in the compass of a song,
Unknown to him who sings, through lips that live,
The voiceless dead of long-forgotten lands
Proclaim to us their heaviness and wrong
In sweeping sadness of the winds that give
Thy strings no rest from weariless wild hands.


Doctors

Every night I lie awake
And every day I lie abed
And hear the doctors, Pain and Death,
Conferring at my head.

They speak in scientific tones,
Professional and low—
One argues for a speedy cure,
The other, sure and slow.

To one so humble as myself
It should be matter for some pride
To have such noted fellows here,
Conferring at my side.


May Wind

I said, “I have shut my heart
As one shuts an open door,
That Love may starve therein
And trouble me no more.”

But over the roofs there came
The wet new wind of May,
And a tune blew up from the curb
Where the street-pianos play.

My room was white with the sun
And Love cried out in me,
“I am strong, I will break your heart
Unless you set me free.”


Nightfall

We will never walk again
As we used to walk at night,
Watching our shadows lengthen
Under the gold street-light
When the snow was new and white.

We will never walk again
Slowly, we two,
In spring when the park is sweet
With midnight and with dew,
And the passers-by are few.

I sit and think of it all,
And the blue June twilight dies,—
Down in the clanging square
A street-piano cries
And stars come out in the skies.


Mastery

I would not have a god come in
To shield me suddenly from sin,
And set my house of life to rights;
Nor angels with bright burning wings
Ordering my earthly thoughts and things;
Rather my own frail guttering lights
Wind blown and nearly beaten out;
Rather the terror of the nights
And long, sick groping after doubt;
Rather be lost than let my soul
Slip vaguely from my own control—
Of my own spirit let me be
In sole though feeble mastery.


The Blind

The birds are all a-building,
They say the world’s a-flower,
And still I linger lonely
Within a barren bower.

I weave a web of fancies
Of tears and darkness spun.
How shall I sing of sunlight
Who never saw the sun?

I hear the pipes a-blowing,
But yet I may not dance,
I know that Love is passing,
I cannot catch his glance.

And if his voice should call me
And I with groping dim
Should reach his place of calling
And stretch my arms to him,

The wind would blow between my hands
For Joy that I shall miss,
The rain would fall upon my mouth
That his will never kiss.


Wild Asters

In the spring I asked the daisies
If his words were true,
And the clever, clear-eyed daisies
Always knew.

Now the fields are brown and barren,
Bitter autumn blows,
And of all the stupid asters
Not one knows.


Erinna

They sent you in to say farewell to me,
No, do not shake your head; I see your eyes
That shine with tears. Sappho, you saw the sun
Just now when you came hither, and again,
When you have left me, all the shimmering
Great meadows will laugh lightly, and the sun
Put round about you warm invisible arms
As might a lover, decking you with light.
I go toward darkness though I lie so still.
If I could see the sun, I should look up
And drink the light until my eyes were blind;
I should kneel down and kiss the blades of grass,
And I should call the birds with such a voice,
With such a longing, tremulous and keen,
That they would fly to me and on the breast
Bear evermore to tree-tops and to fields
The kiss I gave them. Sappho, tell me this,
Was I not sometimes fair? My eyes, my mouth,
My hair that loved the wind, were they not worth
The breath of love upon them? Yet he passed,
And he will pass tonight when all the air
Is blue with twilight; but I shall not see.
I shall have gone forever. Hold my hands,
Hold fast that Death may never come between;
Swear by the gods you will not let me go;
Make songs for Death as you would sing to Love—
But you will not assuage him. He alone
Of all the gods will take no gifts from men.
I am afraid, afraid.

Sappho, lean down.
Last night the fever gave a dream to me,
It takes my life and gives a little dream.
I thought I saw him stand, the man I love,
Here in my quiet chamber, with his eyes
Fixed on me as I entered, while he drew
Silently toward me—he who night by night
Goes by my door without a thought of me—
Neared me and put his hand behind my head,
And leaning toward me, kissed me on the mouth.
That was a little dream for Death to give,
Too short to take the whole of life for, yet
I woke with lips made quiet by a kiss.
The dream is worth the dying. Do not smile
So sadly on me with your shining eyes,
You who can set your sorrow to a song
And ease your hurt by singing. But to me
My songs are less than sea-sand that the wind
Drives stinging over me and bears away.
I have no care what place the grains may fall,
Nor of my songs, if Time shall blow them back,
As land-wind breaks the lines of dying foam
Along the bright wet beaches, scattering
The flakes once more against the laboring sea,
Into oblivion. What care have I
To please Apollo since Love hearkens not?
Your words will live forever, men will say
“She was the perfect lover"—I shall die,
I loved too much to live. Go Sappho, go—
I hate your hands that beat so full of life,
Go, lest my hatred hurt you. I shall die,
But you will live to love and love again.
He might have loved some other spring than this;
I should have kept my life—I let it go.
He would not love me now though Cypris bound
Her girdle round me. I am Death’s, not Love’s.
Go from me, Sappho, back to find the sun.

I am alone, alone. O Cyprian …


The Wayfarer

Love entered in my heart one day,
A sad, unwelcome guest;
But when he begged that he might stay,
I let him wait and rest.

He broke my sleep with sorrowing,
And shook my dreams with tears,
And when my heart was fain to sing,
He stilled its joy with fears.

But now that he has gone his way,
I miss the old sweet pain,
And sometimes in the night I pray
That he may come again.


The Faery Forest

The faery forest glimmered
Beneath an ivory moon,
The silver grasses shimmered
Against a faery tune.

Beneath the silken silence
The crystal branches slept,
And dreaming through the dew-fall
The cold white blossoms wept.


The Tree

Oh to be free of myself,
With nothing left to remember,
To have my heart as bare
As a tree in December;

Resting, as a tree rests
After its leaves are gone,
Waiting no more for a rain at night
Nor for the red at dawn;

But still, oh so still
While the winds come and go,
With no more fear of the hard frost
Or the bright burden of snow;

And heedless, heedless
If anyone pass and see
On the white page of the sky
Its thin black tracery.


A November Night

There! See the line of lights,
A chain of stars down either side the street—
Why can’t you lift the chain and give it to me,
A necklace for my throat? I’d twist it round
And you could play with it. You smile at me
As though I were a little dreamy child
Behind whose eyes the fairies live… And see,
The people on the street look up at us
All envious. We are a king and queen,
Our royal carriage is a motor bus,
We watch our subjects with a haughty joy…
How still you are! Have you been hard at work
And are you tired tonight? It is so long
Since I have seen you—four whole days, I think.
My heart is crowded full of foolish thoughts
Like early flowers in an April meadow,
And I must give them to you, all of them,
Before they fade. The people I have met,
The play I saw, the trivial, shifting things
That loom too big or shrink too little, shadows
That hurry, gesturing along a wall,
Haunting or gay—and yet they all grow real
And take their proper size here in my heart
When you have seen them… There’s the Plaza now,
A lake of light! Tonight it almost seems
That all the lights are gathered in your eyes,
Drawn somehow toward you. See the open park
Lying below us with a million lamps
Scattered in wise disorder like the stars.
We look down on them as God must look down
On constellations floating under Him
Tangled in clouds… Come, then, and let us walk
Since we have reached the park. It is our garden,
All black and blossomless this winter night,
But we bring April with us, you and I;
We set the whole world on the trail of spring.
I think that every path we ever took
Has marked our footprints in mysterious fire,
Delicate gold that only fairies see.
When they wake up at dawn in hollow tree-trunks
And come out on the drowsy park, they look
Along the empty paths and say, “Oh, here
They went, and here, and here, and here! Come, see,
Here is their bench, take hands and let us dance
About it in a windy ring and make
A circle round it only they can cross
When they come back again!” … Look at the lake—
Do you remember how we watched the swans
That night in late October while they slept?
Swans must have stately dreams, I think. But now
The lake bears only thin reflected lights
That shake a little. How I long to take
One from the cold black water—new-made gold
To give you in your hand! And see, and see,
There is a star, deep in the lake, a star!
Oh, dimmer than a pearl—if you stoop down
Your hand could almost reach it up to me…

There was a new frail yellow moon tonight—
I wish you could have had it for a cup
With stars like dew to fill it to the brim…

How cold it is! Even the lights are cold;
They have put shawls of fog around them, see!
What if the air should grow so dimly white
That we would lose our way along the paths
Made new by walls of moving mist receding
The more we follow… What a silver night!
That was our bench the time you said to me
The long new poem—but how different now,
How eerie with the curtain of the fog
Making it strange to all the friendly trees!
There is no wind, and yet great curving scrolls
Carve themselves, ever changing, in the mist.
Walk on a little, let me stand here watching
To see you, too, grown strange to me and far…
I used to wonder how the park would be
If one night we could have it all alone—
No lovers with close arm-encircled waists
To whisper and break in upon our dreams.
And now we have it! Every wish comes true!
We are alone now in a fleecy world;
Even the stars have gone. We two alone!


I sent my love a letter,
And if he loves me not,
He shall not find my love for him
In any line or dot.

But if he loves me truly,
He’ll find it hidden deep,
As dawn gleams red through chilly clouds
To eyes awaked from sleep.


The Rose

Beneath my chamber window
Pierrot was singing, singing;
I heard his lute the whole night through
Until the east was red.
Alas, alas, Pierrot,
I had no rose for flinging
Save one that drank my tears for dew
Before its leaves were dead.

I found it in the darkness,
I kissed it once and threw it,
The petals scattered over him,
His song was turned to joy;
And he will never know—
Alas, the one who knew it!—
The rose was plucked when dusk was dim
Beside a laughing boy.


Understanding

I understood the rest too well,
And all their thoughts have come to be
Clear as grey sea-weed in the swell
Of a sunny shallow sea.

But you I never understood,
Your spirit’s secret hides like gold
Sunk in a Spanish galleon
Ages ago in waters cold.


Arcturus

Arcturus brings the spring back
As surely now as when
He rose on eastern islands
For Grecian girls and men;

The twilight is as clear a blue,
The star as shaken and as bright,
And the same thought he gave to them
He gives to me tonight.


Bells

At six o’clock of an autumn dusk
With the sky in the west a rusty red,
The bells of the mission down in the valley
Cry out that the day is dead.

The first star pricks as sharp as steel—
Why am I suddenly so cold?
Three bells, each with a separate sound
Clang in the valley, wearily tolled.

Bells in Venice, bells at sea,
Bells in the valley heavy and slow—
There is no place over the crowded world
Where I can forget that the days go.


A Prayer

Until I lose my soul and lie
Blind to the beauty of the earth,
Deaf though shouting wind goes by,
Dumb in a storm of mirth;

Until my heart is quenched at length
And I have left the land of men,
Oh, let me love with all my strength
Careless if I am loved again.


Morning Song

A diamond of a morning
Waked me an hour too soon;
Dawn had taken in the stars
And left the faint white moon.

O white moon, you are lonely,
It is the same with me,
But we have the world to roam over,
Only the lonely are free.


Houses of Dreams

You took my empty dreams
And filled them every one
With tenderness and nobleness,
April and the sun.

The old empty dreams
Where my thoughts would throng
Are far too full of happiness
To even hold a song.

Oh, the empty dreams were dim
And the empty dreams were wide,
They were sweet and shadowy houses
Where my thoughts could hide.

But you took my dreams away
And you made them all come true—
My thoughts have no place now to play,
And nothing now to do.


Wisdom

When I have ceased to break my wings
Against the faultiness of things,
And learned that compromises wait
Behind each hardly opened gate,
When I can look Life in the eyes,
Grown calm and very coldly wise,
Life will have given me the Truth,
And taken in exchange—my youth.


Swans

Night is over the park, and a few brave stars
Look on the lights that link it with chains of gold,
The lake bears up their reflection in broken bars
That seem too heavy for tremulous water to hold.

We watch the swans that sleep in a shadowy place,
And now and again one wakes and uplifts its head;
How still you are—your gaze is on my face—
We watch the swans and never a word is said.


Like barley bending
In low fields by the sea,
Singing in hard wind
Ceaselessly;

Like barley bending
And rising again,
So would I, unbroken,
Rise from pain;

So would I softly,
Day long, night long,
Change my sorrow
Into song.


Doubt

My soul lives in my body’s house,
And you have both the house and her—
But sometimes she is less your own
Than a wild, gay adventurer;
A restless and an eager wraith,
How can I tell what she will do—
Oh, I am sure of my body’s faith,
But what if my soul broke faith with you?


Spring Torrents

Will it always be like this until I am dead,
Every spring must I bear it all again
With the first red haze of the budding maple boughs,
And the first sweet-smelling rain?

Oh I am like a rock in the rising river
Where the flooded water breaks with a low call—
Like a rock that knows the cry of the waters
And cannot answer at all.


Winter Stars

I went out at night alone;
The young blood flowing beyond the sea
Seemed to have drenched my spirit’s wings—
I bore my sorrow heavily.

But when I lifted up my head
From shadows shaken on the snow,
I saw Orion in the east
Burn steadily as long ago.

From windows in my father’s house,
Dreaming my dreams on winter nights,
I watched Orion as a girl
Above another city’s lights.

Years go, dreams go, and youth goes too,
The world’s heart breaks beneath its wars,
All things are changed, save in the east
The faithful beauty of the stars.


At Midnight

Now at last I have come to see what life is,
Nothing is ever ended, everything only begun,
And the brave victories that seem so splendid
Are never really won.

Even love that I built my spirit’s house for,
Comes like a brooding and a baffled guest,
And music and men’s praise and even laughter
Are not so good as rest.


I have a secret in my heart
No ears have ever heard,
And still it sings there day by day
Most like a caged bird.

And when it beats against the bars,
I do not set it free,
For I am happier to know
It only sings for me.


The Rose and the Bee

If I were a bee and you were a rose,
Would you let me in when the gray wind blows?
Would you hold your petals wide apart,
Would you let me in to find your heart,
If you were a rose?

“If I were a rose and you were a bee,
You should never go when you came to me,
I should hold my love on my heart at last,
I should close my leaves and keep you fast,
If you were a bee.”


Spring Night

The park is filled with night and fog,
The veils are drawn about the world,
The drowsy lights along the paths
Are dim and pearled.

Gold and gleaming the empty streets,
Gold and gleaming the misty lake,
The mirrored lights like sunken swords,
Glimmer and shake.

Oh, is it not enough to be
Here with this beauty over me?
My throat should ache with praise, and I
Should kneel in joy beneath the sky.
O beauty, are you not enough?
Why am I crying after love,
With youth, a singing voice, and eyes
To take earth’s wonder with surprise?

Why have I put off my pride,
Why am I unsatisfied,—
I, for whom the pensive night
Binds her cloudy hair with light,—
I, for whom all beauty burns
Like incense in a million urns?
O beauty, are you not enough?
Why am I crying after love?


Stars

Alone in the night
On a dark hill
With pines around me
Spicy and still,

And a heaven full of stars
Over my head,
White and topaz
And misty red;

Myriads with beating
Hearts of fire
That aeons
Cannot vex or tire;

Up the dome of heaven
Like a great hill,
I watch them marching
Stately and still,

And I know that I
Am honored to be
Witness
Of so much majesty.


A Winter Night

My window-pane is starred with frost,
The world is bitter cold tonight,
The moon is cruel, and the wind
Is like a two-edged sword to smite.

God pity all the homeless ones,
The beggars pacing to and fro,
God pity all the poor tonight
Who walk the lamp-lit streets of snow.

My room is like a bit of June,
Warm and close-curtained fold on fold,
But somewhere, like a homeless child,
My heart is crying in the cold.


Love-free

I am free of love as a bird flying south in the autumn,
Swift and intent, asking no joy from another,
Glad to forget all of the passion of April
Ere it was love-free.

I am free of love, and I listen to music lightly,
But if he returned, if he should look at me deeply,
I should awake, I should awake and remember
I am my lover’s.


I wrote his name along the beach,
I love the letters so.
Far up it seemed and out of reach,
For still the tide was low.

But oh, the sea came creeping up,
And washed the name away,
And on the sand where it had been
A bit of sea-grass lay.

A bit of sea-grass on the sand,
Dropped from a mermaid’s hair—
Ah, had she come to kiss his name
And leave a token there?


Embers

I said, “My youth is gone
Like a fire beaten out by the rain,
That will never sway and sing
Or play with the wind again.”

I said, “It is no great sorrow
That quenched my youth in me,
But only little sorrows
Beating ceaselessly.”

I thought my youth was gone,
But you returned—
Like a flame at the call of the wind
It leaped and burned;

Threw off its ashen cloak,
And gowned anew
Gave itself like a bride
Once more to you.


May Day

A delicate fabric of bird song
Floats in the air,
The smell of wet wild earth
Is everywhere.

Red small leaves of the maple
Are clenched like a hand,
Like girls at their first communion
The pear trees stand.

Oh I must pass nothing by
Without loving it much,
The raindrop try with my lips,
The grass with my touch;

For how can I be sure
I shall see again
The world on the first of May
Shining after the rain?


Child, Child

Child, child, love while you can
The voice and the eyes and the soul of a man;
Never fear though it break your heart—
Out of the wound new joy will start;
Only love proudly and gladly and well,
Though love be heaven or love be hell.

Child, child, love while you may,
For life is short as a happy day;
Never fear the thing you feel—
Only by love is life made real;
Love, for the deadly sins are seven,
Only through love will you enter heaven.


Indian Summer

Lyric night of the lingering Indian Summer,
Shadowy fields that are scentless but full of singing,
Never a bird, but the passionless chant of insects,
Ceaseless, insistent.

The grasshopper’s horn, and far off, high in the maples
The wheel of a locust leisurely grinding the silence,
Under a moon waning and worn and broken,
Tired with summer.

Let me remember you, voices of little insects,
Weeds in the moonlight, fields that are tangled with asters,
Let me remember you, soon will the winter be on us,
Snow-hushed and heartless.

Over my soul murmur your mute benediction
While I gaze, oh fields that rest after harvest,
As those who part look long in the eyes they lean to,
Lest they forget them.


Winter Dusk

I watch the great clear twilight
Veiling the ice-bowed trees;
Their branches tinkle faintly
With crystal melodies.

The larches bend their silver
Over the hush of snow;
One star is lighted in the west,
Two in the zenith glow.

For a moment I have forgotten
Wars and women who mourn—
I think of the mother who bore me
And thank her that I was born.


Sunset: St. Louis

Hushed in the smoky haze of summer sunset,
When I came home again from far-off places,
How many times I saw my western city
Dream by her river.

Then for an hour the water wore a mantle
Of tawny gold and mauve and misted turquoise
Under the tall and darkened arches bearing
Gray, high-flung bridges.

Against the sunset, water-towers and steeples
Flickered with fire up the slope to westward,
And old warehouses poured their purple shadows
Across the levee.

High over them the black train swept with thunder,
Cleaving the city, leaving far beneath it
Wharf-boats moored beside the old side-wheelers
Resting in twilight.


The world is cold and gray and wet,
And I am heavy-hearted, yet
When I am home and look to see
The place my letters wait for me,
If I should find ONE letter there,
I think I should not greatly care
If it were rainy or were fair,
For all the world would suddenly
Seem like a festival to me.


After Parting

Oh, I have sown my love so wide
That he will find it everywhere;
It will awake him in the night,
It will enfold him in the air.

I set my shadow in his sight
And I have winged it with desire,
That it may be a cloud by day,
And in the night a shaft of fire.


Lights

When we come home at night and close the door,
Standing together in the shadowy room,
Safe in our own love and the gentle gloom,
Glad of familiar wall and chair and floor,

Glad to leave far below the clanging city;
Looking far downward to the glaring street
Gaudy with light, yet tired with many feet,
In both of us wells up a wordless pity;

Men have tried hard to put away the dark;
A million lighted windows brilliantly
Inlay with squares of gold the winter night,
But to us standing here there comes the stark
Sense of the lives behind each yellow light,
And not one wholly joyous, proud, or free.


Dusk in War Time

A half-hour more and you will lean
To gather me close in the old sweet way—
But oh, to the woman over the sea
Who will come at the close of day?

A half-hour more and I will hear
The key in the latch and the strong, quick tread—
But oh, the woman over the sea
Waiting at dusk for one who is dead!


New Year’s Dawn—broadway

When the horns wear thin
And the noise, like a garment outworn,
Falls from the night,
The tattered and shivering night,
That thinks she is gay;
When the patient silence comes back,
And retires,
And returns,
Rebuffed by a ribald song,
Wounded by vehement cries,
Fleeing again to the stars—
Ashamed of her sister the night;
Oh, then they steal home,
The blinded, the pitiful ones
With their gew-gaws still in their hands,
Reeling with odorous breath
And thick, coarse words on their tongues.
They get them to bed, somehow,
And sleep the forgiving,
Comes through the scattering tumult
And closes their eyes.
The stars sink down ashamed
And the dawn awakes,
Like a youth who steals from a brothel,
Dizzy and sick.


New Love and Old

In my heart the old love
Struggled with the new;
It was ghostly waking
All night through.

Dear things, kind things,
That my old love said,
Ranged themselves reproachfully
Round my bed.

But I could not heed them,
For I seemed to see
The eyes of my new love
Fixed on me.

Old love, old love,
How can I be true?
Shall I be faithless to myself
Or to you?


Christmas Carol

The kings they came from out the south,
All dressed in ermine fine,
They bore Him gold and chrysoprase,
And gifts of precious wine.

The shepherds came from out the north,
Their coats were brown and old,
They brought Him little new-born lambs—
They had not any gold.

The wise-men came from out the east,
And they were wrapped in white;
The star that led them all the way
Did glorify the night.

The angels came from heaven high,
And they were clad with wings;
And lo, they brought a joyful song
The host of heaven sings.

The kings they knocked upon the door,
The wise-men entered in,
The shepherds followed after them
To hear the song begin.

And Mary held the little child
And sat upon the ground;
She looked up, she looked down,
She looked all around.

The angels sang through all the night
Until the rising sun,
But little Jesus fell asleep
Before the song was done.


Meadowlarks

In the silver light after a storm,
Under dripping boughs of bright new green,
I take the low path to hear the meadowlarks
Alone and high-hearted as if I were a queen.

What have I to fear in life or death
Who have known three things: the kiss in the night,
The white flying joy when a song is born,
And meadowlarks whistling in silver light.


In Memoriam F. O. S.

You go a long and lovely journey,
For all the stars, like burning dew,
Are luminous and luring footprints
Of souls adventurous as you.

Oh, if you lived on earth elated,
How is it now that you can run
Free of the weight of flesh and faring
Far past the birthplace of the sun?


Fear

I am afraid, oh I am so afraid!
The cold black fear is clutching me tonight
As long ago when they would take the light
And leave the little child who would have prayed,
Frozen and sleepless at the thought of death.
My heart that beats too fast will rest too soon;
I shall not know if it be night or noon,—
Yet shall I struggle in the dark for breath?
Will no one fight the Terror for my sake,
The heavy darkness that no dawn will break?
How can they leave me in that dark alone,
Who loved the joy of light and warmth so much,
And thrilled so with the sense of sound and touch,—
How can they shut me underneath a stone?


Gramercy Park

For W. P.

The little park was filled with peace,
The walks were carpeted with snow,
But every iron gate was locked.
Lest if we entered, peace would go.

We circled it a dozen times,
The wind was blowing from the sea,
I only felt your restless eyes
Whose love was like a cloak for me.

Oh heavy gates that fate has locked
To bar the joy we may not win,
Peace would go out forevermore
If we should dare to enter in.


Love looked back as he took his flight,
And lo, his eyes were filled with tears.
Was it for love of lost delight
Love looked back as he took his flight?
Only I know while day grew night,
Turning still to the vanished years,
Love looked back as he took his flight,
And lo, his eyes were filled with tears.


Since there is no escape, since at the end
My body will be utterly destroyed,
This hand I love as I have loved a friend,
This body I tended, wept with and enjoyed;
Since there is no escape even for me
Who love life with a love too sharp to bear:
The scent of orchards in the rain, the sea
And hours alone too still and sure for prayer—
Since darkness waits for me, then all the more
Let me go down as waves sweep to the shore
In pride; and let me sing with my last breath;
In these few hours of light I lift my head;
Life is my lover—I shall leave the dead
If there is any way to baffle death.


The Kind Moon

I think the moon is very kind
To take such trouble just for me.
He came along with me from home
To keep me company.

He went as fast as I could run;
I wonder how he crossed the sky?
I’m sure he hasn’t legs and feet
Or any wings to fly.

Yet here he is above their roof;
Perhaps he thinks it isn’t right
For me to go so far alone,
Though mother said I might.


Union Square

With the man I love who loves me not,
I walked in the street-lamps’ flare;
We watched the world go home that night
In a flood through Union Square.

I leaned to catch the words he said
That were light as a snowflake falling;
Ah well that he never leaned to hear
The words my heart was calling.

And on we walked and on we walked
Past the fiery lights of the picture shows—
Where the girls with thirsty eyes go by
On the errand each man knows.

And on we walked and on we walked,
At the door at last we said good-bye;
I knew by his smile he had not heard
My heart’s unuttered cry.

With the man I love who loves me not
I walked in the street-lamps’ flare—
But oh, the girls who can ask for love
In the lights of Union Square.


Gifts

I gave my first love laughter,
I gave my second tears,
I gave my third love silence
Through all the years.

My first love gave me singing,
My second eyes to see,
But oh, it was my third love
Who gave my soul to me.


At Sea

In the pull of the wind I stand, lonely,
On the deck of a ship, rising, falling,
Wild night around me, wild water under me,
Whipped by the storm, screaming and calling.

Earth is hostile and the sea hostile,
Why do I look for a place to rest?
I must fight always and die fighting
With fear an unhealing wound in my breast.


Four Winds

“Four winds blowing through the sky,
You have seen poor maidens die,
Tell me then what I shall do
That my lover may be true.”
Said the wind from out the south,
“Lay no kiss upon his mouth,”
And the wind from out the west,
“Wound the heart within his breast,”
And the wind from out the east,
“Send him empty from the feast,”
And the wind from out the north,
“In the tempest thrust him forth;
When thou art more cruel than he,
Then will Love be kind to thee.”


Hidden Love

I hid the love within my heart,
And lit the laughter in my eyes,
That when we meet he may not know
My love that never dies.

But sometimes when he dreams at night
Of fragrant forests green and dim,
It may be that my love crept out
And brought the dream to him.

And sometimes when his heart is sick
And suddenly grows well again,
It may be that my love was there
To free his life of pain.


In the End

All that could never be said,
All that could never be done,
Wait for us at last
Somewhere back of the sun;

All the heart broke to forego
Shall be ours without pain,
We shall take them as lightly as girls
Pluck flowers after rain.

And when they are ours in the end
Perhaps after all
The skies will not open for us
Nor heaven be there at our call.


Song

O woe is me, my heart is sad,
For I should never know
If Love came by like any lad,
Without his silver bow.

Or if he left his arrows sharp
And came a minstrel weary,
I’d never tell him by his harp
Nor know him for my dearie.

“O go your ways and have no fear,
For though Love passes by,
He’ll come a hundred times, my dear,
Before your turn to die.”


Moods

I am the still rain falling,
Too tired for singing mirth—
Oh, be the green fields calling,
Oh, be for me the earth!

I am the brown bird pining
To leave the nest and fly—
Oh, be the fresh cloud shining,
Oh, be for me the sky!


For the Anniversary of John Keats’ Death

At midnight when the moonlit cypress trees
Have woven round his grave a magic shade,
Still weeping the unfinished hymn he made,
There moves fresh Maia like a morning breeze
Blown over jonquil beds when warm rains cease.
And stooping where her poet’s head is laid,
Selene weeps while all the tides are stayed
And swaying seas are darkened into peace.
But they who wake the meadows and the tides
Have hearts too kind to bid him wake from sleep
Who murmurs sometimes when his dreams are deep,
Startling the Quiet Land where he abides,
And charming still, sad-eyed Persephone
With visions of the sunny earth and sea.


Alone

I am alone, in spite of love,
In spite of all I take and give—
In spite of all your tenderness,
Sometimes I am not glad to live.

I am alone, as though I stood
On the highest peak of the tired gray world,
About me only swirling snow,
Above me, endless space unfurled;

With earth hidden and heaven hidden,
And only my own spirit’s pride
To keep me from the peace of those
Who are not lonely, having died.


On the Dunes

If there is any life when death is over,
These tawny beaches will know much of me,
I shall come back, as constant and as changeful
As the unchanging, many-colored sea.

If life was small, if it has made me scornful,
Forgive me; I shall straighten like a flame
In the great calm of death, and if you want me
Stand on the sea-ward dunes and call my name.


The Wind in the Hemlock

Steely stars and moon of brass,
How mockingly you watch me pass!
You know as well as I how soon
I shall be blind to stars and moon,
Deaf to the wind in the hemlock tree,
Dumb when the brown earth weighs on me.

With envious dark rage I bear,
Stars, your cold complacent stare;
Heart-broken in my hate look up,
Moon, at your clear immortal cup,
Changing to gold from dusky red—
Age after age when I am dead
To be filled up with light, and then
Emptied, to be refilled again.

What has man done that only he
Is slave to death—so brutally
Beaten back into the earth
Impatient for him since his birth?

Oh let me shut my eyes, close out
The sight of stars and earth and be
Sheltered a minute by this tree.
Hemlock, through your fragrant boughs
There moves no anger and no doubt,
No envy of immortal things.
The night-wind murmurs of the sea
With veiled music ceaselessly,
That to my shaken spirit sings.
From their frail nest the robins rouse,
In your pungent darkness stirred,
Twittering a low drowsy word—
And me you shelter, even me.
In your quietness you house
The wind, the woman and the bird.
You speak to me and I have heard:

If I am peaceful, I shall see
Beauty’s face continually;
Feeding on her wine and bread
I shall be wholly comforted,
For she can make one day for me
Rich as my lost eternity.

Compensation

I should be glad of loneliness
And hours that go on broken wings,
A thirsty body, a tired heart
And the unchanging ache of things,
If I could make a single song
As lovely and as full of light,
As hushed and brief as a falling star
On a winter night.


In a Railroad Station

We stood in the shrill electric light,
Dumb and sick in the whirling din
We who had all of love to say
And a single second to say it in.

“Good-by!” “Good-by!”—you turned to go,
I felt the train’s slow heavy start,
You thought to see me cry, but oh
My tears were hidden in my heart.


Lost Things

Oh, I could let the world go by,
Its loud new wonders and its wars,
But how will I give up the sky
When winter dusk is set with stars?

And I could let the cities go,
Their changing customs and their creeds,—
But oh, the summer rains that blow
In silver on the jewel-weeds!


Open Windows

Out of the window a sea of green trees
Lift their soft boughs like the arms of a dancer,
They beckon and call me, “Come out in the sun!”
But I cannot answer.

I am alone with Weakness and Pain,
Sick abed and June is going,
I cannot keep her, she hurries by
With the silver-green of her garments blowing.

Men and women pass in the street
Glad of the shining sapphire weather,
But we know more of it than they,
Pain and I together.

They are the runners in the sun,
Breathless and blinded by the race,
But we are watchers in the shade
Who speak with Wonder face to face.


A Cry

Oh, there are eyes that he can see,
And hands to make his hands rejoice,
But to my lover I must be
Only a voice.

Oh, there are breasts to bear his head,
And lips whereon his lips can lie,
But I must be till I am dead
Only a cry.


April

The roofs are shining from the rain,
The sparrows twitter as they fly,
And with a windy April grace
The little clouds go by.

Yet the back-yards are bare and brown
With only one unchanging tree—
I could not be so sure of Spring
Save that it sings in me.


Oh day of fire and sun,
Pure as a naked flame,
Blue sea, blue sky and dun
Sands where he spoke my name;

Laughter and hearts so high
That the spirit flew off free,
Lifting into the sky
Diving into the sea;

Oh day of fire and sun
Like a crystal burning,
Slow days go one by one,
But you have no returning.


Old Tunes

As the waves of perfume, heliotrope, rose,
Float in the garden when no wind blows,
Come to us, go from us, whence no one knows;

So the old tunes float in my mind,
And go from me leaving no trace behind,
Like fragrance borne on the hush of the wind.

But in the instant the airs remain
I know the laughter and the pain
Of times that will not come again.

I try to catch at many a tune
Like petals of light fallen from the moon,
Broken and bright on a dark lagoon,

But they float away—for who can hold
Youth, or perfume or the moon’s gold?


The Mystery

Your eyes drink of me,
Love makes them shine,
Your eyes that lean
So close to mine.

We have long been lovers,
We know the range
Of each other’s moods
And how they change;

But when we look
At each other so
Then we feel
How little we know;

The spirit eludes us,
Timid and free—
Can I ever know you
Or you know me?


The Return

I turned the key and opened wide the door
To enter my deserted room again,
Where through the long hot months the dust had lain.
Was it not lonely when across the floor
No step was heard, no sudden song that bore
My whole heart upward with a joyous pain?
Were not the pictures and the volumes fain
To have me with them always as before?
But Giorgione’s Venus did not deign
To lift her lids, nor did the subtle smile
Of Mona Lisa deepen. Madeleine
Still wept against the glory of her hair,
Nor did the lovers part their lips the while,
But kissed unheeding that I watched them there.


I plucked a daisy in the fields,
And there beneath the sun
I let its silver petals fall
One after one.

I said, “He loves me, loves me not,”
And oh, my heart beat fast,
The flower was kind, it let me say
“He loves me,” last.

I kissed the little leafless stem,
But oh, my poor heart knew
The words the flower had said to me,
They were not true.


Silence

To Eleonora Duse

We are anhungered after solitude,
Deep stillness pure of any speech or sound,
Soft quiet hovering over pools profound,
The silences that on the desert brood,
Above a windless hush of empty seas,
The broad unfurling banners of the dawn,
A faery forest where there sleeps a Faun;
Our souls are fain of solitudes like these.
O woman who divined our weariness,
And set the crown of silence on your art,
From what undreamed-of depth within your heart
Have you sent forth the hush that makes us free
To hear an instant, high above earth’s stress,
The silent music of infinity?


The Princess in the Tower

I. The Princess sings:

I am the princess up in the tower
And I dream the whole day through
Of a knight who shall come with a silver spear
And a waving plume of blue.

I am the princess up in the tower,
And I dream my dreams by day,
But sometimes I wake, and my eyes are wet,
When the dusk is deep and gray.

For the peasant lovers go by beneath,
I hear them laugh and kiss,
And I forget my day-dream knight,
And long for a love like this.

II. The Minstrel sings:

I lie beside the princess’ tower,
So close she cannot see my face,
And watch her dreaming all day long,
And bending with a lily’s grace.

Her cheeks are paler than the moon
That sails along a sunny sky,
And yet her silent mouth is red
Where tender words and kisses lie.

I am a minstrel with a harp,
For love of her my songs are sweet,
And yet I dare not lift the voice
That lies so far beneath her feet.

III. The Knight sings:

O princess cease your dreams awhile
And look adown your tower’s gray side—
The princess gazes far away,
Nor hears nor heeds the words I cried.

Perchance my heart was overbold,
God made her dreams too pure to break,
She sees the angels in the air
Fly to and fro for Mary’s sake.

Farewell, I mount and go my way,
—But oh her hair the sun sifts through—
The tilts and tourneys wait my spear,
I am the Knight of the Plume of Blue.


Spirit’s House

From naked stones of agony
I will build a house for me;
As a mason all alone
I will raise it, stone by stone,
And every stone where I have bled
Will show a sign of dusky red.
I have not gone the way in vain,
For I have good of all my pain;
My spirit’s quiet house will be
Built of naked stones I trod
On roads where I lost sight of God.


Let it be forgotten, as a flower is forgotten,
Forgotten as a fire that once was singing gold,
Let it be forgotten for ever and ever,
Time is a kind friend, he will make us old.

If anyone asks, say it was forgotten
Long and long ago,
As a flower, as a fire, as a hushed footfall
In a long forgotten snow.


To a Castilian Song

We held the book together timidly,
Whose antique music in an alien tongue
Once rose among the dew-drenched vines that hung
Beneath a high Castilian balcony.
I felt the lute strings’ ancient ecstasy,
And while he read, my love-filled heart was stung,
And throbbed, as where an ardent bird has clung
The branches tremble on a blossomed tree.
Oh lady for whose sake the song was made,
Laid long ago in some still cypress shade,
Divided from the man who longed for thee,
Here in a land whose name he never heard,
His song brought love as April brings the bird,
And not a breath divides my love from me!


I have loved hours at sea, gray cities,
The fragile secret of a flower,
Music, the making of a poem
That gave me heaven for an hour;

First stars above a snowy hill,
Voices of people kindly and wise,
And the great look of love, long hidden,
Found at last in meeting eyes.

I have loved much and been loved deeply—
Oh when my spirit’s fire burns low,
Leave me the darkness and the stillness,
I shall be tired and glad to go.


When Love Was Born

When Love was born I think he lay
Right warm on Venus’ breast,
And whiles he smiled and whiles would play
And whiles would take his rest.

But always, folded out of sight,
The wings were growing strong
That were to bear him off in flight
Erelong, erelong.


Did you never know, long ago, how much you loved me—
That your love would never lessen and never go?
You were young then, proud and fresh-hearted,
You were too young to know.

Fate is a wind, and red leaves fly before it
Far apart, far away in the gusty time of year—
Seldom we meet now, but when I hear you speaking,
I know your secret, my dear, my dear.


The Return

He has come, he is here,
My love has come home,
The minutes are lighter
Than flying foam,
The hours are like dancers
On gold-slippered feet,
The days are young runners
Naked and fleet—
For my love has returned,
He is home, he is here,
In the whole world no other
Is dear as my dear!


The Poor House

Hope went by and Peace went by
And would not enter in;
Youth went by and Health went by
And Love that is their kin.

Those within the house shed tears
On their bitter bread;
Some were old and some were mad,
And some were sick a-bed.

Gray Death saw the wretched house
And even he passed by—
“They have never lived,” he said,
“They can wait to die.”


Primavera Mia

As kings who see their little life-day pass,
Take off the heavy ermine and the crown,
So had the trees that autumn-time laid down
Their golden garments on the faded grass,
When I, who watched the seasons in the glass
Of mine own thoughts, saw all the autumn’s brown
Leap into life and don a sunny gown
Of leafage such as happy April has.
Great spring came singing upward from the south;
For in my heart, far carried on the wind,
Your words like winged seeds took root and grew,
And all the world caught music from your mouth;
I saw the light as one who had been blind,
And knew my sun and song and spring were you.


Pity

They never saw my lover’s face,
They only know our love was brief,
Wearing awhile a windy grace
And passing like an autumn leaf.

They wonder why I do not weep,
They think it strange that I can sing,
They say, “Her love was scarcely deep
Since it has left so slight a sting.”

They never saw my love, nor knew
That in my heart’s most secret place
I pity them as angels do
Men who have never seen God’s face.


To E.

I have remembered beauty in the night,
Against black silences I waked to see
A shower of sunlight over Italy
And green Ravello dreaming on her height;
I have remembered music in the dark,
The clean swift brightness of a fugue of Bach’s,
And running water singing on the rocks
When once in English woods I heard a lark.

But all remembered beauty is no more
Than a vague prelude to the thought of you—
You are the rarest soul I ever knew,
Lover of beauty, knightliest and best;
My thoughts seek you as waves that seek the shore,
And when I think of you, I am at rest.


In a Cuban Garden

Hibiscus flowers are cups of fire,
(Love me, my lover, life will not stay)
The bright poinsettia shakes in the wind,
A scarlet leaf is blowing away.

A lizard lifts his head and listens—
Kiss me before the noon goes by,
Here in the shade of the ceiba hide me
From the great black vulture circling the sky.


Debt

What do I owe to you
Who loved me deep and long?
You never gave my spirit wings
Or gave my heart a song.

But oh, to him I loved,
Who loved me not at all,
I owe the open gate
That led through heaven’s wall.


It will not change now
After so many years;
Life has not broken it
With parting or tears;
Death will not alter it,
It will live on
In all my songs for you
When I am gone.


The Giver

You bound strong sandals on my feet,
You gave me bread and wine,
And sent me under sun and stars,
For all the world was mine.

Oh, take the sandals off my feet,
You know not what you do;
For all my world is in your arms,
My sun and stars are you.


Broadway

This is the quiet hour; the theaters
Have gathered in their crowds, and steadily
The million lights blaze on for few to see,
Robbing the sky of stars that should be hers.
A woman waits with bag and shabby furs,
A somber man drifts by, and only we
Pass up the street unwearied, warm and free,
For over us the olden magic stirs.
Beneath the liquid splendor of the lights
We live a little ere the charm is spent;
This night is ours, of all the golden nights,
The pavement an enchanted palace floor,
And Youth the player on the viol, who sent
A strain of music through an open door.


Come

Come, when the pale moon like a petal
Floats in the pearly dusk of spring,
Come with arms outstretched to take me,
Come with lips pursed up to cling.

Come, for life is a frail moth flying,
Caught in the web of the years that pass,
And soon we two, so warm and eager,
Will be as the gray stones in the grass.


Evening: New York

Blue dust of evening over my city,
Over the ocean of roofs and the tall towers
Where the window-lights, myriads and myriads,
Bloom from the walls like climbing flowers.


The Song for Colin

I sang a song at dusking time
Beneath the evening star,
And Terence left his latest rhyme
To answer from afar.

Pierrot laid down his lute to weep,
And sighed, “She sings for me.”
But Colin slept a careless sleep
Beneath an apple tree.


Desert Pools

I love too much; I am a river
Surging with spring that seeks the sea,
I am too generous a giver,
Love will not stoop to drink of me.

His feet will turn to desert places
Shadowless, reft of rain and dew,
Where stars stare down with sharpened faces
From heavens pitilessly blue.

And there at midnight sick with faring,
He will stoop down in his desire
To slake the thirst grown past all bearing
In stagnant water keen as fire.


Twilight

Dreamily over the roofs
The cold spring rain is falling;
Out in the lonely tree
A bird is calling, calling.

Slowly over the earth
The wings of night are falling;
My heart like the bird in the tree
Is calling, calling, calling.


Faults

They came to tell your faults to me,
They named them over one by one;
I laughed aloud when they were done,
I knew them all so well before,—
Oh, they were blind, too blind to see
Your faults had made me love you more.


The Look

Strephon kissed me in the spring,
Robin in the fall,
But Colin only looked at me
And never kissed at all.

Strephon’s kiss was lost in jest,
Robin’s lost in play,
But the kiss in Colin’s eyes
Haunts me night and day.


But Not to Me

The April night is still and sweet
With flowers on every tree;
Peace comes to them on quiet feet,
But not to me.

My peace is hidden in his breast
Where I shall never be;
Love comes tonight to all the rest,
But not to me.


Pierrot

Pierrot stands in the garden
Beneath a waning moon,
And on his lute he fashions
A fragile silver tune.

Pierrot plays in the garden,
He thinks he plays for me,
But I am quite forgotten
Under the cherry tree.

Pierrot plays in the garden,
And all the roses know
That Pierrot loves his music,—
But I love Pierrot.


Tides

Love in my heart was a fresh tide flowing
Where the starlike sea gulls soar;
The sun was keen and the foam was blowing
High on the rocky shore.

But now in the dusk the tide is turning,
Lower the sea gulls soar,
And the waves that rose in resistless yearning
Are broken forevermore.


Song

When Love comes singing to his heart
That would not wake for me,
I think that I shall know his joy
By my own ecstasy.

And though the sea were all between,
The time their hands shall meet,
My heart will know his happiness,
So wildly it will beat.

And when he bends above her mouth,
Rejoicing for his sake,
My soul will sing a little song,
But oh, my heart will break.


Roundel

If he could know my songs are all for him,
At silver dawn or in the evening glow,
Would he not smile and think it but a whim,
If he could know?

Or would his heart rejoice and overflow,
As happy brooks that break their icy rim
When April’s horns along the hillsides blow?

I may not speak till Eros’ torch is dim,
The god is bitter and will have it so;
And yet tonight our fate would seem less grim
If he could know.


Snowfall

“She can’t be unhappy,” you said,
“The smiles are like stars in her eyes,
And her laugh is thistledown
Around her low replies.”
“Is she unhappy?” you said—
But who has ever known
Another’s heartbreak—
All he can know is his own;
And she seems hushed to me,
As hushed as though
Her heart were a hunter’s fire
Smothered in snow.


The Wine

I cannot die, who drank delight
From the cup of the crescent moon,
And hungrily as men eat bread,
Loved the scented nights of June.

The rest may die—but is there not
Some shining strange escape for me
Who sought in Beauty the bright wine
Of immortality?


Chance

How many times we must have met
Here on the street as strangers do,
Children of chance we were, who passed
The door of heaven and never knew.


The Sanctuary

If I could keep my innermost Me
Fearless, aloof and free
Of the least breath of love or hate,
And not disconsolate
At the sick load of sorrow laid on men;
If I could keep a sanctuary there
Free even of prayer,
If I could do this, then,
With quiet candor as I grew more wise
I could look even at God with grave forgiving eyes.


To Dick, on His Sixth Birthday

Though I am very old and wise,
And you are neither wise nor old,
When I look far into your eyes,
I know things I was never told:
I know how flame must strain and fret
Prisoned in a mortal net;
How joy with over-eager wings,
Bruises the small heart where he sings;
How too much life, like too much gold,
Is sometimes very hard to hold…
All that is talking—I know
This much is true, six years ago
An angel living near the moon
Walked through the sky and sang a tune
Plucking stars to make his crown—
And suddenly two stars fell down,
Two falling arrows made of light.
Six years ago this very night
I saw them fall and wondered why
The angel dropped them from the sky—
But when I saw your eyes I knew
The angel sent the stars to you.


Coney Island

Why did you bring me here?
The sand is white with snow,
Over the wooden domes
The winter sea-winds blow—
There is no shelter near,
Come, let us go.

With foam of icy lace
The sea creeps up the sand,
The wind is like a hand
That strikes us in the face.
Doors that June set a-swing
Are bolted long ago;
We try them uselessly—
Alas, there cannot be
For us a second spring;
Come, let us go.


Summer Storm

The panther wind
Leaps out of the night,
The snake of lightning
Is twisting and white,
The lion of thunder
Roars—and we
Sit still and content
Under a tree—
We have met fate together
And love and pain,
Why should we fear
The wrath of the rain!


While I May

Wind and hail and veering rain,
Driven mist that veils the day,
Soul’s distress and body’s pain,
I would bear you while I may.

I would love you if I might,
For so soon my life will be
Buried in a lasting night,
Even pain denied to me.


May Day

The shining line of motors,
The swaying motor-bus,
The prancing dancing horses
Are passing by for us.

The sunlight on the steeple,
The toys we stop to see,
The smiling passing people
Are all for you and me.

“I love you and I love you!”—
“And oh, I love you, too!”—
“All of the flower girl’s lilies
Were only grown for you!”

Fifth Avenue and April
And love and lack of care—
The world is mad with music
Too beautiful to bear.


Soul’s Birth

When you were born, beloved, was your soul
New made by God to match your body’s flower,
And were they both at one same precious hour
Sent forth from heaven as a perfect whole?
Or had your soul since dim creation burned,
A star in some still region of the sky,
That leaping earthward, left its place on high
And to your little new-born body yearned?
No words can tell in what celestial hour
God made your soul and gave it mortal birth,
Nor in the disarray of all the stars
Is any place so sweet that such a flower
Might linger there until through heaven’s bars,
It heard God’s voice that bade it down to earth.


Dusk in June

Evening, and all the birds
In a chorus of shimmering sound
Are easing their hearts of joy
For miles around.

The air is blue and sweet,
The few first stars are white,—
Oh let me like the birds
Sing before night.


Helen of Troy

Wild flight on flight against the fading dawn
The flames’ red wings soar upward duskily.
This is the funeral pyre and Troy is dead
That sparkled so the day I saw it first,
And darkened slowly after. I am she
Who loves all beauty—yet I wither it.
Why have the high gods made me wreak their wrath—
Forever since my maidenhood to sow
Sorrow and blood about me? Lo, they keep
Their bitter care above me even now.
It was the gods who led me to this lair,
That though the burning winds should make me weak,
They should not snatch the life from out my lips.
Olympus let the other women die;
They shall be quiet when the day is done
And have no care tomorrow. Yet for me
There is no rest. The gods are not so kind
To her made half immortal like themselves.
It is to you I owe the cruel gift,
Leda, my mother, and the Swan, my sire,
To you the beauty and to you the bale;
For never woman born of man and maid
Had wrought such havoc on the earth as I,
Or troubled heaven with a sea of flame
That climbed to touch the silent whirling stars
And blotted out their brightness ere the dawn.
Have I not made the world to weep enough?
Give death to me. Yet life is more than death;
How could I leave the sound of singing winds,
The strong sweet scent that breathes from off the sea,
Or shut my eyes forever to the spring?
I will not give the grave my hands to hold,
My shining hair to light oblivion.
Have those who wander through the ways of death,
The still wan fields Elysian, any love
To lift their breasts with longing, any lips
To thirst against the quiver of a kiss?
Lo, I shall live to conquer Greece again,
To make the people love, who hate me now.
My dreams are over, I have ceased to cry
Against the fate that made men love my mouth
And left their spirits all too deaf to hear
The little songs that echoed through my soul.
I have no anger now. The dreams are done;
Yet since the Greeks and Trojans would not see
Aught but my body’s fairness, till the end,
In all the islands set in all the seas,
And all the lands that lie beneath the sun,
Till light turn darkness, and till time shall sleep,
Men’s lives shall waste with longing after me,
For I shall be the sum of their desire,
The whole of beauty, never seen again.
And they shall stretch their arms and starting, wake
With “Helen!” on their lips, and in their eyes
The vision of me. Always I shall be
Limned on the darkness like a shaft of light
That glimmers and is gone. They shall behold
Each one his dream that fashions me anew;—
With hair like lakes that glint beneath the stars
Dark as sweet midnight, or with hair aglow
Like burnished gold that still retains the fire.
Yea, I shall haunt until the dusk of time
The heavy eyelids filled with fleeting dreams.

I wait for one who comes with sword to slay—
The king I wronged who searches for me now;
And yet he shall not slay me. I shall stand
With lifted head and look within his eyes,
Baring my breast to him and to the sun.
He shall not have the power to stain with blood
That whiteness—for the thirsty sword shall fall
And he shall cry and catch me in his arms,
Bearing me back to Sparta on his breast.
Lo, I shall live to conquer Greece again!


Twilight

The stately tragedy of dusk
Drew to its perfect close,
The virginal white evening star
Sank, and the red moon rose.


Dew

As dew leaves the cobweb lightly
Threaded with stars,
Scattering jewels on the fence
And the pasture bars;
As dawn leaves the dry grass bright
And the tangled weeds
Bearing a rainbow gem
On each of their seeds;
So has your love, my lover,
Fresh as the dawn,
Made me a shining road
To travel on,
Set every common sight
Of tree or stone
Delicately alight
For me alone.


In the Metropolitan Museum

Within the tiny Pantheon
We stood together silently,
Leaving the restless crowd awhile
As ships find shelter from the sea.

The ancient centuries came back
To cover us a moment’s space,
And through the dome the light was glad
Because it shone upon your face.

Ah, not from Rome but farther still,
Beyond sun-smitten Salamis,
The moment took us, till you stooped
To find the present with a kiss.


The Nights Remember

The days remember and the nights remember
The kingly hours that once you made so great,
Deep in my heart they lie, hidden in their splendor,
Buried like sovereigns in their robes of state.

Let them not wake again, better to lie there,
Wrapped in memories, jewelled and arrayed—
Many a ghostly king has waked from death-sleep
And found his crown stolen and his throne decayed.