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Title: Gypsy Verses
Author: Whitney, Helen Hay, 1875-1944
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Gypsy Verses" ***

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    Gypsy Verses


    “_Some Verses_,” “_The Bed Time Book_.”


    Duffield & Company

    COPYRIGHT, 1907, BY

    _Published October, 1907_


    _G. V. W.
    because she is my friend_


    ATARAH                         3
    AGE                            4
    LOVE AND DAWN                  5
    L’AMOUR AMBIGUEUX              6
    SAPPHICS                       7
    IN PRISON                      9
    GHOSTS                        10
    LILIS                         11
    THE OLD WOMEN                 12
    TO HIPPOLYTUS                 13
    THE GARDEN HEDGE              14
    THE SLAVE WOMAN               15
    SONG                          16
    SANS-JOY                      17
    OUT OF THE JUNGLE             18
    IN PORT                       19
    SONNY BOY                     21
    SUNRISE                       22
    DEAD LADIES                   24
    WHEN TRISTAN SAILED           25
    THE BATTLE                    27
    RECOMPENSE                    28
    THE LOTUS EATERS              29
    LOST APHRODITE                30
    THE FOOLS                     32
    THE AWAKENING                 33
    THE DARK WOMAN                34
    SUMMER SONG                   35
    SERAPHIS                      36
    VENGEMENT                     37
    AUTUMN LOVE                   38
    THE WITCH                     40
    THE MAN                       42
    THE CHOICE                    45
    THE BROOK                     46
    AT THE END OF THE WORLD       47
    THE GYPSY                     48
    BOY O’ DREAMS                 49
    BALLAD OF THE SLAVE           51
    FOAM                          53
    THE SEAL                      54
    RELEASE                       55
    SIN, THE SWORD                56
    FANTASTIC SPRING              57
    SONG                          58
    CONTRAST                      59
    THE PRICE                     60
    THE KING’S DAUGHTER           61
    LAIS                          62
    THE HERITAGE                  63
    THE MONK IN HIS GARDEN        64
    BIANCA                        65
    FREE                          66
    BLACK AND GOLD                67
    THE ANSWER                    68
    PEACE                         69
    BARNABAS                      70
    LOST DREAMS                   71
    LADY OF LIGHT                 72
    SONG                          73
    THE GYPSY BLOOD               74
    AND YET                       75

_Acknowledgment is made to Messrs. Harper and Brothers, the Century
Company, and the Metropolitan Magazine for courteous permission to
reproduce certain of the verses included in this volume._


    _Oh, you were not so idle--
      You wore a sprig of green;
    You wore a feather in your cap,
      The reddest ever seen._

    _Your face was laughing gypsy brown,
      Your eyes were of the blue;
    You wandered up and down the world,
      For you had much to do._

    _For oh, you were not idle,
      Whatever men might say--
    You made the colour of the year
      Magnificent and gay._


    With painted slender folded hands
      She waited what might come,
    Her head was tyred with jewelled bands,
      Her mouth was sweet and dumb.

    Her cymar was of ardassine,
      Fire red from throat to hem,
    Broidered with Turkis stones therein--
      She gave her soul for them.

    Faint cassia and love-haunted myrrh
      Made perilous her hair,
    And what was Sidon’s woe to her
      Whose face was king’s despair?

    Nor life nor love from those cold lips,
      But ah, in what degree,
    Her passionate lover leans and sips
      Her death-bright poesy.


    Blindness, and women wailing on white seas,
      Seas where no placid sails have ever been,
      Dreams like wan demons on waste marshes seen
    Thro’ dulling, fevered eyes. The dregs and lees
    Of wine long spilt to dead divinities.
      Grey, empty days when Spring is never green,
      Can the heart answer what these riddles mean--
    Can the life hold such hopelessness as these?

    Love lying low in the long pleasant grass,
      Youth with his eager face against the sun,
    They may not guess the hours when these shall pass,

    In what drear coin such lovely dreams are paid,
      At what grim cost their flowery days are won,
    When man is old and lonely and afraid.


    Dawn shaking long light pennons in the East--
          Is love the least
    And love the greatest of the morning’s woes?
          See how the rose
    Breaks in a hundred petals down the sky.
          Darkness must die,
    And in the heart, where flutters sad desire,
          Wakes the new fire
    Silver and azure of the open day.
          So, grief, away!
    We will be glad with flagons, drown old pain,
    And Dawn shall bring us to her own again.


    You are the dreams we do not dare to dream,
      The dim florescence of a mystic rose,
      In poverty or pride love comes and goes,
    We do not question what the deeps may seem
    Launched on the steady current of the stream.
      Gaily and hardily we hear the prose;
      In youth, red sun, in age the charnel snows.
    Nor see the banks where subtle flowers gleam,
    In green sweet beds of moly and of thyme
      Wild as an errant fancy. All the while
      We know you, mystic rose; we know your smile,
    Your deep, still eyes, your fragrant floating hair,
    The peacock purple of the gown you wear,
    O lyric alchemist of rune and rhyme!


    Leave the Vine, Ah Love, and the wreath of myrtle,
    Leave the Song, to die, on the lips of laughter,
    Come, for love is faint with the choric measure,
              Weary of waiting.

    Down the sky in lines of pellucid amber
    Blows the hair of her whom the gods have treasured,
    Fair, more fair is mine in the ring of maidens,
              Mine for the taking.


    I sinned, but gloriously. I bore the fall
      From Heaven’s high places as becomes a king.
      I did not shrink before the utmost sting
    Of torture or of banishment. The pall
    Of Dis, I cried, should be the hall
      Where sad proud men of men should meet and sing
      The woes of that defeat ambitions bring
    Hurled from the last vain fight against the wall.

    I thought I had been punished. To forego
      All lovely sights, the whisper of fresh rain,
      To brood forever endlessly on pain
    Yet still a Prince, Ah God, I dreamed,--and then
      I learned my Fate, this wandering to and fro
    In Devil’s work among the sons of men.


    Above her task the long year through
      She works with steady hands,
    The while her heart is tired with dreams
      Which no man understands.

    For long and long ago she knew
      Green trees and open sky,
    Before the law condemned her days
      To doom until she die.

    And so she dreams in mystic peace,
      Indifferent to the scene,
    Because her heart retains and knows
      The little stain of green.


    The long lost lights of love I know,
    They thrill from ultimate space, they blow
    Like small bewildered stars, tossed high
    On some unknown and passionate sky.

    I know them for the loved lost lights
    That made the glamour of my nights
    Long, long ago, and now I fear
    Their coming, and the garb they wear.

    For they are very white and cold,
    They are not coloured as of old,
    In trailing radiance, rose and red,
    For these are ghosts, and they are dead.


    We have forgiven you because you are so fair,
      Eloquent by virtue of your dark enchanting eyes,
    Evil to your heart of hearts, shall we blame or care,
      You are very beautiful, and love has made you wise.

    With a splendid insolence you exist to sin,
      Scorn us for the weaknesses that bring us to our pain.
    Weak you are and false you are and never may we win,
      Yet we have forgiven you, and shall forgive again.


    We are very, very old,
      We have had our day,
    So we bend above our work
      While the others play.

    Do they call us women, we
      Gaunt and grey and grim,
    Hideous and sexless things
      Weak of brain and limb?

    Beauty ended, love long past,
      Yet, when all else flees,
    We are women, for we still
      Have our memories.


    It is too late to part. I dreamed a dream
      That love had loosed me, that no more your name
      Should vex my soul, for very pride and shame
    I hid you out of mind; I said, The stream
    Has grown too wide between us, it would seem
      To sunder even memory. Your fame
      Rang hollow on my ear, and then you came
    And love laughed for the lie he would redeem.

    It is too late. Love will not let me go.
    The bare suns burn me, and the strong winds blow;
      I take them fearlessly, for I am wise
    At last; for being yours I must be brave,
    Tho’ you give nothing, still am I your slave,
      The light within my heart your eyes, your eyes.


    I live in a beautiful garden,
      All joyous with fountains and flowers;
    I reck not of penance or pardon,
      At ease thro’ the exquisite hours.

    My blossoms of lilies and pansies,
      Pale heliotrope, rosemary, rue,
    All lull me with delicate fancies
      As shy as the dawn and the dew.

    But the ghost--Gods--the ghost in the gloaming,
      How it lures me with whispers and cries,
    How it speaks of the wind and the roaming,
      Free, free, ’neath the Romany skies.

    ’Tis the hedge that is crimson with roses,
      All wonderfully crimson and gold,
    And caged in my beautiful closes
      I know what it is to be old.


    Her eyes are dark with unknown deeps,
      Old woes and new despair,
    Her shackled spirit feels the thong
      That breaks her body bare.

    The savage master of her days
      Who mocks her passive pain,
    How should he know her scorn of him.
      Indifferent to the stain?

    For in her heart she sees the glow
      Of sacrificial fires,
    A priestess of a mystic rite
      Performed on nameless pyres.

    The incident of shame and toil
      She takes with idle breath,
    For she remembers Africa,
      And what to her is death?


    The sky is more blue than the eyes of a boy,
      A riot of roses entangles the year;
    Ah, come to me, run to me, fill me with joy,
              Dear, dear, dear.

    The air is a passion of perfume and song,
      The little moon swings up above, look above,
    I cannot wait longer, I’ve waited so long,
              Love, love, love.


    Hide your eyes, Angels, beneath your gold phylacteries,
    Israfel will charm you with the magic of his song:
    Yet you will not smile for him, by reason of your memories,
    For Lucifer is absent, and the cry goes up, How long!

    For his expiation you would give your dreams and destinies,
    Paradise is clouded by the measure of your pain;
    Hide your eyes, Angels, beneath your gold phylacteries,
    Till the jasper gates swing wide to bring him home again.


    Out of the jungle he came, he came,
      Man of the lion’s breed,
    His heart was fire and his eyes were flame,
      And he piped on a singing reed.

    Spring was sweet and keen in his blood,
      Singing, he sought his mate,
    The wife for the life and time of his mood,
      Formed for his needs by fate.

    Over his reed he piped and sang,
      His eyes were the eyes of a man,
    But the jungle knew how his changes rang,
      For his heart was the heart of Pan.


    Wave buffeted and sick with storm,
      The ships came reeling in,
    The harbour lights were kind and warm,
      And yet, so hard to win.

    Like wings, the tired sails fluttered down,
      While night began to fall,
    Then came, sea-scarred, toward the town,
      The smallest ship of all.

    At last in harbour, safe and still,
      No more she need be brave,
    No more she’d meet the winds’ rough will,
      The wanton of each wave.

    The harbour lights! but where the moon
      Should murmur blessings bright,
    Clouded instead the dread typhoon,
      That thundered down the night.

    What curse the luring harbour bore
      Of false security;
    The port held desolation more
      Than boasted all the sea.

    When morning came with leering lip,
      What death lay on her breast,
    And oh! the little weary ship
      Was wrecked with all the rest.


(A bust by H. F.)

    Grave as a little god, erect and wise,
      He dares the years that open to his gaze.
      Brave in his charming beauty, he portrays
    A bright eternal youth, and in his eyes
    Sweet moons that are no more. No sad surprise
      Has gloomed the gay adventure of his ways,
      And from the flower-lit meadow of the days
    He leaps clean-hearted to life’s enterprise.


    There was a cry from the sky,
      A cry at night;
    It wakened the breeze in the trees
      When the moon was white;
        And I, only I,
    Adrift on life’s terrible seas,
      Read the cry aright.

    Pennants of gold were unrolled,
      They told of sun;
    Night’s pain with the dark and the rain,
      Was over and done.
        The travail of old
    Had passed from the mother again,
      And the fight was won.

    There was a cry from the sky,
      And my soul was torn
    With a passion divine, as of wine,
      From the breast of morn;
        For I, only I,
    Knew the cry as the signal and sign
      That love was born.


    Thais and Lalage, your eyes are closed,
      Phryne, Aholibah, your lips are dust.
    Your tinkling feet are idle and composed,
      All your gold beauty vanished into rust.

    Nor Dionysian mysteries taught you this,
      Since the gold serpent was your seal and sign;
    Tho’ deathless be the imprint of your kiss,
      The lips that redden are not yours, but mine.

    How you would scorn us, Lalage, the lure
      Of your mad moments, us, the motley crew;
    Yet shall your beauty only so endure
      Imperishable, that we sing of you.


    When Tristan sailed from Ireland
      Across the summer sea,
    How young he was, how debonnaire,
      How glad he was and free.
    Why should he know the gales would blow,
      The skies be black above,
    How should he dream his port was Death,
      And Doom, whose name is Love?

    The Lady Iseult, sweet as prayer,
      We hardly dare to pray,
    Pearl-pale beneath her shadow hair,
      Grows fairer day by day,
    The ichor gains her spring-kissed veins,
      Her skies the eyes of youth.
    How should she dream the ichor Love,
      Was hellebore in truth?

    So Tristan sailed from Ireland
      As youth must always sail;
    He quaffed the cup, nor asked the wine;
      He dared, nor feared to fail.
    And be it poison, be it life,
      Or wrecks that strew the shore,
    Tristan set forth! nor ask the end,
      Else youth shall sail no more.


    Ah, never, never, never! for the flag
      Is twined about my body, and my back
      Is braced against the wall! I know the lack
    Of crust and water, and a man might brag
    For fighting thus, yet--how a soul may lag,
      For want of just so little, when the rack
      Of hopeless strife from dawn to bivouac
    Finds the foe now who storms the utmost crag.

    Never surrender! You who storm my heart
      Till I am faint with love and hunger, all
    Starved for your lips--how can I say “depart”?
    And yet--drag up the sword again--and thrust!
      Ah, Love, mine enemy--I will not fall
    Until my honour’s flag and I are dust.


    Those who ask for a star
      Often receive but a stone,
    Yet they asked for a star,
      Does the high thought not atone?

    I, who asked but a stone,
      A plaything of azure or red,
    May I count it for gain
      That I won a star instead?


    We have no rain, we have no sun,
    We only watch the moments run
      Like little adders thro’ the leaves,
    Lost ere their flitting has begun.

    The cool light airs that fan our brow,
    What aromatic sweets they know!
      The tall tired trees that make our sky
    Are lapped in spices as they bow.

    The bright-eyed flowers that form our bed,
    Like eager jewels, blue and red,
      Seem brimmed with gay immortal life,
    Yet we dream on when they are dead.


    The gods upon the hills no more are seen,
      Couched on the virginal green,
    No more their cry upon the silence grieves,
      The shadow of dark leaves.

    The blazonry of Spring must now abate,
      Without the purple state
    Of Aphrodite, amorous and frail,
      Cinctured with lilies pale.

    She who was love and every man’s desire,
      Now only can inspire,
    The mutual love of mortals, and alone
      Like wind her plaints are blown.

    About the unregarding world her hands
      Yearn forth across the lands
    Once passionate with her lovers, but in vain,
      They will not come again!

    She who was Aphrodite, tho’ she gives
      Love to each heart that lives,
    Gives and receives not. She, of love the breath,
      Doomed now with utter death.


    On the wrist a paroquet,
      Motley on the shoulder,
    We exist for joy of life,
      Never growing older.

    Dancing down the lane of years,
      Rosy garlands trailing,
    Who would pause for time or tears,
      Barren days bewailing.

    Brighter burden never were
      Than the smiles we scatter,
    Loving deeds and laughing love,
      This is our great matter.

    And the wise who scorn our bells
      Mate with melancholy,
    We are wiser than the wise,
      Holding hands with folly.


    Perhaps the world is tired of pageantries,
      And all the weary women called the Hours,
      Jaded with jewels, shall exchange for flowers
    Their badge of pride. In violet harmonies,
    With sweet blue veils of silence o’er their eyes,
      They shall return to Spring’s most languorous bowers;
      And Light and Beauty shall come down as showers
    Releasing life from all its pedantries.

    Only the bloomy purple hill to see
      Thro’ half-closed lids, and only to be blind
    With asphodils! Shall these things ever be?
    Surely the time is ripe to live for this
      Dawn, springing radiant from her sleep to find
      A world of lovers waiting for her kiss.


    My dark, wild woman of the braes,
      I know your heart, I know your ways,
    I know the raw, sweet food you taste,
      I love the colours ’round your waist.

    Ribbons of green and gold you wear,
      Threaded about your shadowy hair,
    My colours--and your eyes are mine,
      Dark as the deeps of love--and wine.

    I wake with you at budding Dawn,
      Leaving this life of dew-spread lawn,
    To join your spirit in the wild,
      Your brother, lover, or your child.

    Take me upon your savage breast,
      Teach me your calms and your unrest.
    Take me, I know the jungle cry,
      Teach me your love, or let me die.


    My heart’s a yellow butterfly
      That flutters down the road;
    A beggar, tricksy, dancing thing
      That scorns a fixed abode.

    The aigrette of the thistle bloom
      Becomes the swinging sign
    Of merry hostelries, where I
      May pause awhile and dine.

    The sky is lapis lazuli
      Bestrewn by clouds of pearl,--
    Who would not be a butterfly
      Instead of just a girl?


    He tasted dragon’s blood
      From the dark dragon tree,
    In those far islands where the mood
      Is faery-like and free.

    With cinnamon and nard
      His strange gay clothes were sweet,
    His lips were fanciful with fard,
      Red flames played ’round his feet.

    Sharp dancing pointed flames,
      Detached as butterflies,
    He called them all by secret names,
      They were his ecstasies.

    No love, no maiden bright
      Might woo him from his swoon,
    For he had tasted strange delight
      In lands beyond the moon.


    What was his offense to you,
      You who sit thro’ dreamless days,
    Sifting thro’ your fingers slim
      Ashes in a porphyry vase?

    Hatred makes your eyes grow hard,
      As you conjure forth his name
    From the dust that was his face,
      From the heart that was his flame.

    Then she, lifting heavy eyes,
      Spoke: “When this man walked the world
    Him I loved, he loved not me;
      So his days to death I hurled.

    “Dying, then, he touched my hand,
      Smiled and whispered, ‘I forgive’;
    This his vengeance on my soul,
      I must hate him while I live.”



    Once I could love this season of the year,
      And watch the calm and delicate decline
      Of Summer gladly; I could see the pine
    Deep green on bluest sky, and laugh for cheer
      Of very living. Yet I’d fain appear
      Th’ unhurried gourmet, tasting of my wine,
      Lingering o’er memories of the purpled vine,
    Loath for each passing moment. Ah, my dear,
    Now like a careless child, I toss the hours
      Over my shoulder, I forget the sun,
    The dewy dawn, the white moon and the flowers.
    Like a tired pilgrim with his goal in view,
      Looking not right nor left, I run, I run
    To that bright day of days that brings me you.


    I feel as murderers feel, who, having slain
      Their love, laugh with red hands and do not care.
      I took sweet Summer by her lovely hair,
    Bent her white throat, and gladly saw the stain
    Crimson her green leaf-gown of hill and plain.
      I would not wait for her last kiss, nor spare
      One splendid flying hour, for chill and fair
    Autumn, my love, comes near me thro’ the rain.

    Pale with mysterious wonder, her deep eyes
      Are wells of wisdom; fugitive, astray
    From a blue land that dreams beyond the skies.
    ’Tis done. I lay young Summer on her pyre,
      And turning, burn thro’ distance to the day
    That brings me to the lips of my desire.


    Whence came the fire in her eyes, eyes of a beast in the jungle,
      Desperate, golden and green, wild as a river in spate?
    Her long lithe limbs were brown, and she took the world as a leopard,
      Grave, disdainful and strong, takes of his prey without hate.

    Glamourie slept in her eyes, terribly calm in the tumult,
      Hidden and secret and sweet was the smile of her crimson mouth.
    A marigold wound in her hair, she swayed like wind in the desert,
      Burning and thrilling to thirst the hearts that dream of the South.

    Whence came the fire in her eyes? I, only I, knew the secret,
      The thing that hung on her breast, hid by her stormy hair,
    Amber drops on a string, her talisman, witches’ amber,
      Golden, yellow and brown, that only a witch may wear.


    The flame is spent, I can no more
    Hold the tall candle by your door.
    Too often have I watched to see
    Your lagging steps come home to me.

    The Tyrian traders taught me this.
    They came, perfumed with ambergris,
    With amethystine robes, and hair
    Curled by the kisses of salt air.

    They mocked me for my weary hands,
    Holding your light as love demands,
    They sang the lure of poppied sleep,
    Their lips were warm, their eyes were deep.

    The flame is spent! Your pale weak face
    Must seek another resting place.
    Win me, and hold me now who can!
    The Tyrian trader was a man!


    There’s a town called Maldonado,
      That’s the place where I would be;
    There’s a girl in Maldonado,
      And she gave her heart to me.

    Starved with sixty days of sailing,
      How we swaggered to the shore,
    Hands in pockets, eyes cocked sideways,
      At the girl in every door.

    Sweet they fluttered to our shoulders,
      She, my girl, the fairest girl,
    And I took her for a plaything,
      Face of flower and heart of pearl.

    Round my neck she clung and pleaded,
      But I told her to be wise;
    Said no sailor could be faithful,
      And his love was ever lies.

    Then she turned and left me silent,
      Stepping weary, stepping slow;
    Merry was I to have won her,
      And I laughed to see her go.

    Now ’tis done--I have lost her,
      Seas between us thunder wide,
    “Dear,” I said, “I shall forget you,”
      And God knows that I have lied!

    Many girls have smiled upon me,
      Up and down the Northern coast,
    But their kisses only taunt me
      With the kiss that I have lost.

    Oh! You’re killing me by inches,
      Velvet lips and eyes of brown,
    For it’s love I left behind me,
      Down in Maldonado town.


    The long well rose above me, a slim shaft,
      With wet, black walls, and high aloft the light
      Round as a moon intensified my night.
    I ate the air and bitterly I quaffed
    The death damp; nor my pleading nor my craft
      Availed to aid me in my desperate plight:
      The vista of high heaven the only sight
    To see, and at my woe high heaven had laughed.

    Suddenly the darkness deepened, and a face
      Gloomed on the opening, terrible and grim
    An Afreet! In his hands he held disgrace
    And direst poverty and ruinous strife.
      “Choose now between,” he cried, “calm Death by him
    And Life empoisoned,” yet I cried, “Give Life.”


    I have a little brook in the deeps of my heart.
      What does it matter if the day be chill or clear,
    Coloured like a tourmaline and wingèd like a dart,
      Voiced like a nightingale, it sings all the year.

    Small bright herbs on the banks of the stream,
      Moon-pale primroses, and tapestries of fern,
    This is the reality and life is just a dream,
      Iridescent bubble that the moon tides turn.


      To the world’s end, to the world’s end,
        Did I wander seeking you,
    And wide was the water and dark was the fell,
    With Time at my heels like a hound of hell,
        And the worst still left to do.

      To the world’s end, to the world’s end,
        And the void to verify.
    They told me of a tale of love supreme.
    “Sometimes,” I cried, “I have caught the gleam,
        I shall seek it tho’ I die.”

      At the world’s end, at the world’s end,
        At the end of the endless mile,
    Nothing to see but the silent snow--
    I turned with my tears to your heart, and lo!
        Love was with me all the while!


    O, she was most precious, as the wind’s self was fair.
      What did I give her when I had her on my knee?
    Red kisses for her coral lips, and a red comb for her hair.
      She took my gifts, she took my heart, and fled away from me.

    O, but she was fanciful, she found a savage mate,
      He scorned her, he spurned her, he drove her from his door;
    She cuddled in his inglenook and laughed at all his hate,
      She took his curses, took his blows, and never left him more.


    Must I leave you in the mountains,
      Boy o’ dreams,
    Must I leave you where the fountains
      Toss the silver of their streams,
    Where the trees are clothed in samite,
      And the little broken moon
    Is a symbol and an answer,
      Like the reading of a rune?

    May I take you to the city,
      Boy o’ dreams,
    Where your heart will break with pity
      At the lethargy that seems
    Only half alive to living,
      Only enemy to mirth,
    Where the dusty facts will blind you
      To the fancies of the earth?

    I must take you--but I’ll keep you,
      Boy o’ dreams,
    Where no alien winds shall sweep you,
      In a secret place that gleams,
    With the light of your own laughter,
      Yours the vessel, yours the chart,
    And we’ll brave the storm together.
      You, the captain of my heart.


    The helot got him a hempen cord,
      A slave of love was he,
    “She made me dance to her circumstance--
      In the air one dances free!”

    She sits on a throne of ivory
      Serene in her silver gown,
    “Ah, woe,” he cried, “but the world is wide,
      But ’tis straight where I lie down.

    “She mocked, she scorned, and she hated me,
      She shall pity me not,” he said;
    “Too late for the nether way of hate,
      I may flout her when I’m dead.”

    Out in the dark of the moonless sky,
      The rope was round his neck,
    “’Tis the torque of gold from her throat so cold,
      Why should I rue or reck?”

    Tighter tangled the hempen cord;
      “’Tis her fingers hot with fire,
    In a tempest of fear she draws me near,--
      Now dying is not so dire!”

    Black, more black grew the empty void,
      “And I but a broken reed,
    For there’s only her face in this grisly place“--
      But his love stood there indeed!

    Close to her heart she took his head,
      And she kissed him back to breath,
    “You are mine by right of that line of white,
      You are mine--by Life and Death!”


    I have dallied with wantons, made mad by their passionate wine,
    Time, like a golden ball, I have tossed to the wastes of the air.
    I have whispered with Beauty, whose song has been sister to mine,
    Laughed with the long late hours who lie with the stars in their hair.

    Like the spume on the crest of the wave blowing back to the sea,
    Cast from the depths beneath, now to riot and dance in the light,
    I have flung you the foam of my heart, to be mask unto me,
    Caught to my heart again from the doom of your fugitive sight.


    The document of day is folded down,
      Night, the great lawyer, takes the waiting sheet,
    And o’er the murky shadows of the town
      Sets his red seal, to make the deed complete.


    I asked to be released, I did not know
    ’Twas hate, not love, that would not let me go.
    Vengeance had burned your image on my mind,
    I gazed and gazed until my eyes were blind.
    Now--neither pride nor love has set me free,
    But happy chance--in wonderful degree.

    Shackled by memory, a prey to fear,
    Once you were mine by the black load I bore,
    But now, released, I lose you--O my Dear,
    Ever, irrevocably mine no more!


    Sin was a terrible and ruddy sword,
      My hands were only lilies, only made
      To lay against his lips, and so I prayed
    Another weapon. Willingly I poured
    On his strong heart the gifts that could accord
      With my life’s fact, but Ah! the gifts were weighed
      And all found wanting--and I was afraid
    Of love which was so dreadfully my lord.
    He showed me the magnificence, the height
      To be attained for those who dare to seek,
    For those who dare the wonder and delight.
    I might attain--I might--but if I should!--
      I was afraid, my fainting heart was weak,
    And so, Love help me, I was only--good!


    Wear a lure fantastical,
      Farthingales of Spring,
    Till the out-worn city hearts
      Dance for you and sing.

    Lime us with grotesque desires,
      Warm with green and gold;
    Apathetic we have grown,
      Tired and hard and old.

    Draw us gently to your truth,
      Calm our hopes and fears;
    Till at last the grass blades speak
      To attentive ears.


    We only ask for sunshine,
      We did not want the rain;
    But see the flowers that spring from showers
      All up and down the plain.

    We beg the gods for laughter,
      We shrink, we dread the tears;
    But grief’s redress is happiness,
      Alternate through the years.


    Steady stand the ilex trees,
      All the leaves are still,
    Motionless the opal haze
      Drowses on the hill.

    There a marble statue waits
      Patient of the hours,
    Ringed about with silent sun
      Over dreamy flowers.

    Nature mirrors perfect peace,
      Round me everywhere,
    Only in my heart is found
      Torment and despair.


    We are so tired of merely being human,
    Loving or loved, the sweet imperfect woman.
    Masters, you know not what your lips have missed,
    On the rose mouths you keep but to be kissed.

    We are Astarte, we are Lilith, we
    Know the blue veils which you have named the sea
    Cover the eyes of Isis; that the sky
    Is the white body of Neith, arched so on high.

    Ours is a secret language, when we smile,
    Dreams are denied at birth, all to beguile
    Your earthy substance. Ah, at what fell cost
    We pay you, so our heritage is lost.


    She was the fairest of the King’s fair daughters,
      Gold and rubies glittered on her hands;
    Her voice was the lilting of a rain of silver waters,
      And her lovers were as endless as her lands.

    Down thro’ the birch wood with her maidens all about her,
      So virginal she came with dainty tread,
    At my eyes she was silent,--could a gypsy turn and flout her:
      Love I looked and love I spoke, till white grew red.

    Free she was as fair, she forgot her father’s palace,
      Left her lands to wander at my side;
    She is crowned with forest leaves, with my two curved hands for chalice:
      Spring and love must bring a gypsy to his bride.


    You are white as the moths of Twilight,
      You are secret as mist and dew,
        And your down-dropped eyes
        Are eternally wise,
      Strange sins have wrought their hue.

    Mother of men and women,
      They are ghosts, not men you have bred;
        In infinite scorn
        Their bodies were born
      While their souls were worse than dead.

    We are what your lips have made us,
      Empty, and bitterly old;
        Our faith has lied,
        Oh, barren bride,
      And the fires of the world are cold.


    How shall the present verify the past?
      Like flames we strove, still onward, upward rising,
    Spurning the singing continents--at last,
      Wrecked on this fatal day of our devising.

    Nurtured by lunar rainbows, chill and sweet,
      Our fancy was a gossamer of beauty;
    Now like a web it drags about our feet,
      Named with the symbols drear of fact and duty.

    We who were heirs to Egypt, India’s child,
      Suckled by Greece, and cradled by Cathay,
    How tacitly we waive this breeding wild,
      Deny our parents in our deeds to-day.

    Let us awake--obedient to our dreams,
      Let us embrace huge issues, comprehending
    The scheme entire--Great Beauty’s birth, which seems
      The glorious urge for life, unchecked, unending.


    The air is heavy with a mist of spice,
      Vervain and agrimony, clove and rue,
    Have I not paid, have I not paid the price?
      How shall these tempters torture me anew?

    I close my eyes and dream the incense drifts
      Over the monstrance, and the acolyte
    Swings the gold censer. Then the vision lifts:
      I know the poisonous joys I have to fight.

    Day with its flowers and yellow butterflies,
      Holds for my heart no pain, the wind is free
    That blows upon my garden from far skies,
      Yet may I hold it in white chastity.

    But night!--and the still air!--Ah, God above,
      Have I the strength to wage thy war anew?
    Blot out my senses or I die for love,--
      Vervain and agrimony, clove and rue!


    The orchard apples hung above,
      Golden and red and green.
    Her face beneath was ripe for love,
      Cat-eyed with sparks between.

    Simples she came to gather there
      With hands of ivory;
    Gold fillets bound her golden hair;
      Her gown was cramosie.

    She plucked the herbs with subtle grace,
      Derisive in her deed.
    Was there no Prince to read her face,
      No Prince with Beauty’s need?

    Her hands with cassia buds were sweet:
      “Come, love,” her young heart cried,
    The Prince with delicate swift feet,
      Was even at her side!

    Her tamed white leopard leaped in fear,
      Love beckons love so soon.
    They gathered no more simples there,
      The long late afternoon.


    Beyond the hill the hearth fires burn,
      A hundred flags in air,
    But one which tossed but yesterday
      Is dead, one hearth is bare.

    The wife whose fingers fed the fire
      Grew weary of the play,
    A lad laughed thro’ the open door
      And stole my dear away.

    And now alone I face the road;
      No hearth, no home for me.
    And yet--Ah Life!--come sun, come rain,
      My beggar soul is free.


    Round her knees her lovers yearned,
      She who sat in black and gold,
    What recked she who begged or burned,
      Sister to the gods of old.

    Darkness was her pedigree,
      Light her ever living flame,
    Lovers die for such as she,
      Paying for her smiles with shame.

    Round her head the music floats,
      Black by night and gold by day;
    These are Time’s inchoate notes,
      Calling, “Sister, come away.”

    Bride of eager-blooded gods,
      Wife to man’s primeval age,
    What to her shall serve these clods
      Save to irk her pilgrimage?


    The themes of women! Mounting up the sky,
      Beating the air with tremulous weak wings,
    How shall so small a matter win so high,
      The vain sweet goal of their imaginings?

    Striving for Beauty, dark philosophy,
      Or the obscure and purple deeps of truth,
    How shall they know their one great verity,
      The answer to their queries and their youth?

    Simple vain themes of women! Only this
      One theme may lift their wings to goals above,--
    To spill their hearts out blindly in a kiss,
      An infinite surrendering to love.


    Night thundered down the valley
      From off the rocky steeps,
    Like wind it broke the silences
      That light divinely keeps.

    As low dark clouds concealing
      The things one dare not see,
    So grimly dark and ominous
      Hung low each shadowy tree.

    Night, the dread terror-master,
      What wordless woe he weaves!
    Suddenly peace, and all the air
      Is scented with green leaves.


    They all are dead but Barnabas; he’ll wait,
      With his old groping hands and haggard eyes,
      Which nothing in the world can now surprise,
    Till the last leaf whirls thro’ the clanging gate
    Of the last sunrise. Did he learn too late?
      Maybe, that one may hear the moans and cries
      That ring by night, and yet be calm and wise.
    And teach the women how a man can hate!

    I did not think a soul could live so long,
      And be so little. He remembers youth
    With a wry smile of disbelief; the wrong
      Was this, he squeezed the fruit so dry
    So long ago; and now must live, forsooth
      Because a woman will not let him die.


    Coming thro’ the porch of dreams
      To the portal of the day,
    Vacant all the ether seems
      With a grief that leaves her grey.

    In a threnody of sighs,
      With the cloud wreaths ’round her face,
    Morning veils her heavy eyes,
      Weeping for her vanished grace.

    Ah! in gaining lusty Dawn,
      Life, and pleasant facts of light,
    Why must we, the darkness gone,
      Lose the dreams that haunt the night?


    Light of the World, what are violets but eyes of you,
      Perfume, your hair blowing back on the breeze,
    Ah, but the fugitive dainty surprise of you,
      Pricking in green on the blossomy trees.

    Give me the sun of your smile to be fire to me,
      Give me the moon when the passion is gone,
    Give me the light to be dream and desire to me
      Down the dark alleys that lead to the dawn.


    You are the dawning of dreams.
      You are the end of desire.
    You are the gladness and glory that seems
      Dauntless, to urge and aspire.

    Cradle my soul on your wings,
      Cradle my head on your breast.
    Teach me the ardour that conquers and sings.
      Grant me your infinite rest.


    Because the lover cares for daffodils
      Must we be stranger to the passion flower,
      Or slight the iris, dewy from a shower?
    The gypsy heather bloom upon the hill
    Strikes fiercely on a gypsy heart, and thrills
      New argosies of dreams to sail the hours.
      No rosy perfume blown from garden bowers
    May bear the subtle perfume this distills.

    Must we forego the dreamy twilight stars
      Because the true-love lives for morning sun?
    Love dare not hold the sense behind such bars.
    The moon drips scented petals on our hair,
      And gypsy hearts to gypsy flowers must run
    While life is everything, tho’ love be fair.


    Inadequate and void, the days
      Are not more tired than tears;
    And yet, how long, how long the ways,
      Down the bare lane of years.

    The bird that flutters from the nest
      Is fused of fire and spring,
    And yet how soon the throbbing breast
      Will lose the life to sing.

    How long the lane, how soon ’tis past,
      Rough road, dark sky above,
    And yet, dear heart, there’s home at last,
      With light, and life, and love!


    Thro’ the pleached alley in my garden of the Spring
    Merry leaves tossed over me with elfish whispering.
    I was not alone, alone, for Love with blowing hair
    Touched my hands and touched my heart, dancing everywhere.

    Darting round about my steps, as a swallow slips,
    How she laughed and laughed at me, with little rosy lips,
    Ghostly wise she kissed my eyes, her mouth was chill as snow,
    For she had died, my Love had died, so very long ago.

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Gypsy Verses" ***

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