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´╗┐Title: A Woman of Thirty
Author: Seiffert, Marjorie Allen, 1885-1970
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 "A Woman of Thirty" ***

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A WOMAN OF THIRTY


Marjorie Allen Seiffert



New York

1919



To O.H.S.



  CONTENTS

  I.  The Old Woman

    A Morality Play

  II.  Love Poems in Summer

    Singalese Love Songs I-V
    The Silent Pool
    Nocturne
    Theme Arranged for Organ I-III
    The Moonlight Sonata
    Possession
    Evening:  the Taj Mahal
    The Gift
    The Bridge
    A Temple I-VII
    Candles
    Winter Night
    Last Days I-V
    Sorrow
    Prison
    The Dream House

  III.  Studies and Designs

    Design for a Japanese Vase
    The Bow Moon (A Print by Hirosage)
    An Italian Chest
    The Pedlar
    Portrait of a Lady in Bed I-V
    Portrait of a Gentleman
    From the Madison Street Police Station
    La Felice
    The Journey
    The Last Illusion
    The Desert
    The Picnic

  IV.  Interlude

    Mountain Trails I-VII
    October Morning
    October Afternoon
    Maternity
    The Father Speaks
    To Allen
    To Helen
    The Immortal
    To an Absent Child I-IV
    Summer Night
    Maura I-VI
    November Dusk
    Winter Valley I-IV

  V.  Love Poems in Autumn

    Ballad
    The Pathway of Black Leaves I-IV
    Elegy
    Sequence I-X
    Disillusion
    November Afternoon
    Yareth at Solomon's Tomb
    Argolis
    St. Faith's Eve


  Poems of Elijah Hay

    The Golden Stag
    To Anne Knish
    Lolita
    Spectrum of Mrs. Q
    Epitaph
    A Sixpence
    Three Spectra
    Two Commentaries
    A Womanly Woman
    Lolita Now is Old
    The Shining Bird
    The King Sends Three Cats to Guinevere
    Ode in the New Mode
    Night



  I.  The Old Woman
  (A Morality Play)

  The Old Woman
  (A Morality Play)

  Characters:
  The Woman
  The House
  The Doctor
  The Deacon
  The Landlady

  Doctor:
  There is an old woman
  Who ought to die--

  Deacon:
  And nobody knows
  But what she's dead--

  Doctor:
  The air will be cleaner
  When she's gone--

  Deacon:
  But we dare not bury her
  Till she's dead--

  Landlady:
  Come, young doctor
  From the first floor front,
  Come, dusty deacon,
  From the fourth floor back,
  You take her heels
  And I'll take her head--

  Doctor and Deacon:
  We'll carry her
  And bury her
  If she's dead!

  House:
  They roll her up
  In her old, red quilt,
  They carry her down
  At a horizontal tilt,
  She doesn't say "Yes"
  And she doesn't say "No,"
  She doesn't say, "Gentlemen,
  Where do we go?"

  Doctor:
  Out in the lot
  Where ash-cans die,
  There, old woman,
  There shall you lie!

  Deacon:
  Let's hurry away
  And never look behind
  To see if her eyes
  Are dead and blind,
  To see if the quilt
  Lies over her face--
  Perhaps she'll groan
  Or move in her place!

  House:
  The room is empty
  Where the old woman lay,
  And I no longer
  Smell like a tomb--

  Landlady:
  Doctor, deacon,
  Can you say
  Who'll pay rent
  For the old woman's room?

  *     *     *     *     *     *     *

  House:
  The room is empty
  Down the hall,
  There are mice in the closet,
  Ghosts in the wall--
  A pretty little lady
  Comes to see--

  Woman:
  Oh, what a dark room,
  Not for me!

  Landlady:
  The room is large
  And the rent is low,
  There's a deacon above
  And a doctor below--

  Deacon:
  When the little mice squeak
  I shall pray--

  Doctor:
  I'll psycho-analyse
  The ghosts away--

  Landlady:
  The bed is large
  And the mattress deep,
  Wrapped in a feather-bed
  You shall sleep--

  Woman:
  But here's the door
  Without a key!
  An unlocked room
  Won't do for me!

  Doctor:
  Here's a bolt--

  Deacon:
  And here's a bar--

  Landlady:
  You'll sleep soundly
  Where you are!

  Woman:
  Good night, gentlemen,
  It's growing late,
  Good night, landlady,
  Pray don't wait!
  I'm going to bed,
  I'll bolt the door
  And sleep more soundly
  Than ever before!

  Deacon:
  Good night, madam,
  I'll steal away--

  Doctor:
  Glad a pretty lady
  Has come to stay!

  House:
  She lights a candle--
  What do I see!
  That cloak looks like
  A quilt to me!
  She climbs into bed
  Where long she's lain,
  She's come back home,
  She won't leave again.
  She's found once more
  Her rightful place,
  Same old lady
  With a pretty new face.
  Let the deacon pray
  And the doctor talk,
  The mice will squeak
  And the ghosts will walk.
  There's a crafty smile
  On the landlady's face,
  The old woman's gone,
  But she's filled her place!

  Landlady:
  It's nothing to me
  If the old woman's dead,
  There's somebody sleeping
  In every bed!

  II.  Love Poems in Summer

  Singalese Love Songs

  I

  Your eyes are beautiful beggars,
  Careless singing minstrels,
  Who will not starve
  Nor sleep cold under the sky
  If they receive no largess
  Of mine.

  Once lived a woman
  Of great charity--

  At last
  Her own children
  Begged for bread.

  II

  I would make you love me
  That you might possess
  Desire--

  For to your heart
  Beauty is a burned-out torch,
  And Faith, a blind pigeon,
  Friendship, a curious Persian myth,
  And Love, blank emptiness,
  Bearing no significance
  Nor any reality.

  Only Weariness is yours:
  I would make you love me
  That you might possess
  Desire.

  III

  Is my love
  Of flesh or spirit?
  I only know to me
  Your eyes are wholly you.

  Our glances dart
  Like the flash of a bird
  Gone, before the colour of his wing
  Is seen.

  I have not bathed my soul
  In your eyes,
  My soul would drown.

  IV

  I have starved to know your lips
  Yet my soul
  Does not die of want.

  For only dreams are real,
  And fulfilment is an illusion,
  There is but one fulfilment,
  Blind Nature's way--

  My arms reach toward illusion,
  And I would carry mist against my heart,
  Not the warm, heavy head
  Of a sleeping child.

  Starving, I hold my dream.

  V

  What do you seek,
  Beloved?

  When you have had
  All of me
  There will remain for you
  One beautiful desire the less.

  You think you seek my love
  But you seek
  My denial.

  Hunger, Want,
  Is the only pain
  I would not spare you--
  Alas, that too
  Will die!

  The Silent Pool

  Your smile is a heron, flying
  Over waters cool,
  My thoughts of you are blue Iris!
  Today is the silent pool
  Which shining heron and Iris blue
  Are mirrored on.

  Tomorrow
  Will still reflect the Iris--
  My thoughts of you;
  But the heron will be gone.

  Nocturne

  It is enough
  To feel your beauty
  With the lingers
  Of my heart,

  Your beauty, like the starlight,
  Filling night so gently, that it dreams
  Unwakened.

  I should feel your beauty against my face
  Though I were blind.

  Theme Arranged for Organ

  I. PRELUDE

  What would you have of me, my friend, in truth,
  A breath of understanding, or a glance
  Into your soul's dark places? Can a word
  Aid in your brave attempt to smother youth?
  Of what avail that trifling circumstance,
  In such a tumult could my voice be heard?

  Before your bitter need my lips are dumb
  So little can I give you. Should I come
  To feed a starving Titan with a crumb?

  II. INTERLUDE

  Alas, I am too foolish or too wise,
  Too soon am blinded or I see too far!
  How can I follow with expectant feet,
  What is the beacon light that holds your eyes,
  Can this blind alley lead to any star
  And through this dark confusion, what retreat?

  For heaven is awed when comets crash to earth,
  But we, who grope and question our soul's worth,
  Stumbling, awaken only bitter mirth.

  III. POSTLUDE

  A breath, a glance, a word,--no more, my friend,
  This is the sum of what I have to give
  Leaving the tale for ever incomplete.
  No perfect moment, and no tragic end,
  Within your heart those images shall live
  And die like footsteps down an empty street.

  Yet all the while a stifled instinct saith:
  "Spend your souls vigour to the utmost breath
  And let the hounds come baying at the death!"

  The Moonlight Sonata

  My soul storm-beaten as an ancient pier
  Stands forth into the sea; wave on slow wave
  Of shining music, luminous and grave,
  Lifting against me, pouring through me, here
  Find wafts of unforgotten chords, which rise
  And droop like clinging sea-weed. You, so white,
  So still, so helpless on this fathomless night
  Float like a corpse with living, tortured eyes.
  Deep waves wash you against me; you impart
  No comfort to my spirit, give no sign
  Your inarticulate lips can taste the brine
  Drowning the secret timbers of my heart.

  Possession

  I hold you fast, your hurrying breath,
  Your wandering feet, your restless heart,
  Are mine alone, for only death
  You vowed today, can make us part.

  Your eager lips, athirst to drain
  Life's goblet of its golden wine
  Shall drink tonight or thirst in vain--
  I hold you fast for you are mine.

  And when I search your soul until
  I see too deeply and divine
  That you can never love me--Still
  I hold you fast for you are mine!

  Evening: the Taj Mahal
  (A Lover Speaks)

  Beloved!...

  India and you
  Breathe through my soul tonight,
  You in your gown, impossibly white--
  I marvel greatly that it fail
  To glow and pale
  With iridescent light--
  How can it hang in silent nun-like folds?
  Think of the flaming mystery it holds,
  You... You...

  We stand in that wide place
  Where love is frozen in marble, spire on spire,
  A snow-white nightingale with a heart of fire
  Soaring in space.
  We gaze, together, into the shining pool
  To catch the soul of beauty unaware
  Finding only the peaceful body there
  Of beauty drowned and still in waters cool.

  Burning so luminously in these pure white things
  Somehow akin, are palpitating fires,

  Intangible, yet visible as spires
  Or wings.
  And close at hand, an unseen Moslem sings
  Blind, haunting chants, which speak
  Of mystery, forevermore unguessed.
  O shining ones, I seek
  No farther, for my soul, content,
  Divines the secret of the Taj Mahal and you--
  Beauty and desire, possessed
  In white tranquillity, in flaming peace,
  Find rest.

  The Gift

  What is this wine you have poured for me?
       You have offered up
  Your face in its pure transparency
       Like a crystal cup
  Which trembling fingers slowly lift--
       It is faintly masked
  With a tremulous smile. You have brought me a gift,
       Your love, unasked.

  Could you trust my reckless hands so much?
       With no vow spoken,
  You gave me a goblet, which at a touch
       Were utterly broken!
  Your smile replied: "Since the glass was filled
       It little mattered
  Whether the wine were drunk or spilled
       Or the goblet shattered."

  The Bridge

  I walk the bridge of hours from dawn till night
  My heart beating so loud in joyous wonder
  To know your love, that I can scarcely breathe;
  But in the lonely darkness, with affright
  I faintly hear, like ominous, distant thunder
  The unseen ocean surging close beneath.

  Our bridge so frail, eternity so vast!
  When we must sink into the deep at last
  Heart of my heart, will you still hold me fast?

  A Temple

  I. DOORWAY

  Carven angels
  On the portals,
  Angels with crowns, and eagles
  And golden lions
  On the door.

  This is why
  The alien worshippers went their way,
  Why you alone discovered
  The gates were open.

  You touched the velvet curtains behind them,
  They parted to let you pass.

  II.  WINDOW

  I make a window
  Of you, beloved,
  Through which the sun colours
  The silence.

  Even your absences
  Are spaces I have filled
  With sapphire;

  Your denials
  Are burning gold,
  I have painted your reluctance
  Emerald green:

  Your silences
  Are crimson
  On which your words make delicate
  Black tracery.

  As for me,
  My will is the grey lead
  Which I have bent to hold the coloured
  Panes of you.

  III. SPIRE

  My wish goes singing upward
  Holding a chime of bells
  In its heart:

  Pigeons know my silent bells,
  Winds touch them and wonder.

  That they might reach
  That high blue--

  Till star fingers touch them
  Ever so gently--

  And drifting clouds
  Lay cool cheeks against them--

  My wish goes singing upward
  Reaching into silence.

  IV. PRIEDIEU

  Beauty passes
  But dust is eternal.
  Outside the temple
  Beauty dies in the wind.

  So when my temple is fallen
  And lies in dust,
  Where then will be the memory
  Of your beauty?

  I pray my dust
  That it may hold your image
  Tomorrow and for ever.

  V.  FESTIVAL

  The beloved is returning,
  Let the bells ring!

  I too am a tower
  Hung with bronze bells,

  I too am a bell
  Chiming to the winds,

  I too am the wind
  Ringing to the hills,

  I too am the hills
  Singing to the sky.

  I too am the sky!
  The beloved is returning,
  Let the bells ring!

  VI. DUSK

  There is no soul too poor to build a temple
  Where it may go apart
  And worship darkness.

  For out of darkness
  Images shine... and fade...

  Since now there is no worship nor any music,
  Let incense be a curved smile
  On lips that remember,
  And candles, notes of laughter
  In empty dusk.

  Above,
  A coloured window slowly turns
  Black to the night.

  VII. RUINS

  Temples have fallen
  Before today,
  Stones are ever loosening their hold
  One on another...

  You blocks of marble, sleeping in the sun,
  Can you remember chiming bells
  And incense?

  Now there is only silence,
  Even the winged stones of archways
  Sleep in peace.

  Candles

  Silence is but the golden frame
       That holds your face,
  My thoughts, like unblown candle-flame
       In a holy place
  Surround you. From this secret shrine
       Somewhere apart
  Do you not feel my candles shine
       Upon your heart?

  Winter Night

  The I that does not love you
  I have kept hidden away
  In the dark.

  (I never dreamed
  There was a You
  That does not love me!)

  Tonight they met.

  I hear their words
  Falling like icicles
  Upon me...
  I am frozen in terror...
  Have they killed the You
  That Loves me?

  Beloved, can you hear me
  Through the bitter sound
  Of icicles falling?
  Can you see me from behind
  Your frozen eyes?

  Last Days

  I

  Shall I pretend
  These days are just like other days?
  One cannot spend
  Every day for seven weeks
  Saying good-bye.

  So when I must
  I speak of your departure casually
  As though it were a hundred years away;
  As Youth is wont to say:
  "Sometime we all must die!"

  II

  We talk of all the happy things we have done,
  We pass them in review,
  "Do you remember?" is often on our lips.

  One by one
  We touch our memories and put them all away--
  How shall I dare to look at them
  When you are gone!

  III

  There is no beginning to my love
  Nor any end--
  It is about your head
  Like the deep air,
  More than your breath can spend.
  Oft is about your heart
  Like arms of faith--
  Where you go, it is there.

  IV

  There are no last things to say,
  What promise can I make?
  You know my love so well.
  All that I have is yours to take.
  (How will it be, with part of me away,
  Must not my soul be changed?)

  Shall I stay young for memory's sake?
  Shall I be old and grave and grey?
  If I might choose, how could I tell!

  V

  The You I know
  I shall not see again,
  A stranger will return.

  How shall I win the love
  Which he has kept apart
  With a blurred image which once was I?

  I shall not know his heart,
  How can I learn?

  Sorrow

  Sorrow stands in a wide place,
  Blind--blind--
  Beauty and joy are petals blown
  Across her granite face,
  They cannot find
  Sight or sentience in stone.

  Yesterday's beauty and joy lie deep
  In sorrow's heart, asleep.

  Prison

  I close the book--the story has grown dim,
  The plot confused; the hero fades
  Behind unmeaning words, and over him
  The covers close like window shades
  On empty windows. The watchful room
  Is weary. Dully the green lamp stares
  Into the shadows. The coals are dumb,
  The clock ticks heavily. The chairs
  Wait sullenly for guests who never come.

  Suppose I leave this house, suppose my feet
  Plodding into the night
  Carry me down the empty street
  Made hideous with arcs of purple light...
  Inevitably I must return to bed.
  The house is waiting, chairs, and books, and clocks.
  I am their prisoner. I have no more chance
  Of escape, when all is said,
  Than a dying beetle in a box--
  And life, and love,--and death--have gone to France.

  The Dream House

  I steal across the sodden floor
       And dead leaves blow about,
  Where once we planned an iron door
       To shut the whole world out;

  I find the hearth, its fires unlit,
       Its ashes cold--Tonight
  Only the stars give warmth to it,
       Only the moon gives light.

  And yonder on our spacious bed
       Fashioned for love and sleep
  The Autumn goldenrod lies dead,
       The maple-leaves lie deep.

  III.  Studies and Designs

  A Japanese Vase
  (A Design to be Wrought in Metals)

  Five harsh, black birds in shining bronze come crying
  Into a silver sky,
  Piercing and jubilant is the shape of their flying,
  Their beaks are pointed with delight,
  Curved sharply with desire,
  The passionate direction of their flight,
  Clear and high,
  Stretches their bodies taut like humming wire.
  The cold wind blows into angry patterns the jet-bright
  Feathers of their wings,
  Their claws curl loosely, safely, about nothingness,
  They clasp no things.
  Direction and desire they possess
  By which in sharp, unswerving flight they hold
  Across an iron sea to the golden beach
  Whereon lies carrion, their feast. A shore of gold
  That birds wrought on a vase can never reach.

  The Bow Moon
  (A print by Hiroshige)

  From the dawn, Take San,
  Ungathered star,
  Follow me back through night
  Till I recapture
  Evening.

  (The bending hours of darkness
  Sway apart like lilies
  Before the backward-blowing wind.)

  At last,
  Bearing in her mysterious bosom
  Unravished beauty,
  Dark Yesterday rises to view against her silent sky
  Irrevocable... secret...
  Confronting the fantastic dream
  Of an impossible Tomorrow.

  And that frail bridge,
  Delicate, immutable,
  Which rises higher than the moon,
  More everlasting than the fading sky,
  Joining What-was-not with What-might-have-been,
  That bridge were named "Today"
  If I had loved you, Take San,
  If you had loved me.

  An Italian Chest
  (Lorenzo Designs a Bas-Relief)

  Lust is the oldest lion of them all
  And he shall have first place,
  With a malignant growl, satirical,
  To curve in foliations prodigal
  Round and around his face,
  Extending till the echoes interlace
  With Pride and Prudence, two cranes, gaunt and tall.

  Four lesser lions crouch and malign the cranes,
  Cursing and gossiping they shake their manes
  While from their long tongues leak
  Drops of thin venom as they speak.
  The cranes, unmoved, peck grapes and grains
  From a huge cornucopia, which rains
  A plenteous meal from its antique
  Interior (a note quite curiously Greek).

  And nine long serpents twist
  And twine, twist and twine,
  A riotously beautiful design
  Whose elements consist
  Of eloquent spirals, fair and fine,
  Embracing cranes and lions, who exist
  Seemingly free, yet tangled in that living vine.

  And in this chest shall be
  Two cubic meters of space
  Enough to hold all memory
  Of you and me--
  And this shall be the place
  Where silence shall embrace
  Our bodies, and obliterate the trace
  Our souls made on the purity
  Of night...
  Now lock the chest, for we
  Are dead, and lose the key!

  The Pedlar

  Hark, people, to the cry
  Of this curious young magician-pedlar
  Seeking a golden bowl!

  He wanders through the city
  Offering useful tin-ware
  For all the ancient metal
  You have left to rust
  In the dim, dusty attic
  Or mouldy cellar
  Of your soul.

  He refuses nothing--
  Rusty nails
  Which may have played their part
  In a crucifixion--
  For ten of these he will give
  A new tin spoon.

  The andirons
  Once guarding hearth-fires of content,
  Now dusty and forgotten
  In an obscure corner,
  He will give for these
  A new tin tea-kettle
  With a wooden handle.

  And for this antique bowl
  Fashioned to hold
  Roses or wine?

  The eyes of the pedlar glisten!
  O woman, if acid reveal
  Gold beneath the tarnished surface
  He will gladly give you
  His hands, his eyes, his soul,
  His young, white body--

  If not,
  A mocking laugh
  And a bright tin sieve
  To hold your wine
  And roses.

  Portrait of a Lady in Bed

  I.  THE COVERLET

  My cowardice
  Covers me safely
  From everything...

  From cold, which makes me yield
  And quietly die
  Beneath the snow;

  From heat, which makes me faint
  Until cool nothingness receives me;

  From hurt, (Seize me, O Lion,
  And I shall die of fright
  Before I feel your teeth!)

  From love,
  Yes, most of all from love.

  How can love touch me?
  Is it not heat,
  Or cold,
  Or a lion?

  My cowardice covers me
  Safely
  From everything!

  II. THE PILLOW

  To know you think of me
  Sustains my Spirit
  Through the long night.

  (My thought of you
  Is wine, banishing sleep!)

  Your thoughts of me are feathers,
  Light nothings,
  Drifting, dancing,
  Floating,
  Blown by a breath of fancy
  Away from your sight.

  They would choke me,
  They would blind me
  With the Nothing I am to you
  If I dared see them;
  But I bind them into a pillow,
  And to know that you think of me
  Sustains my spirit
  Through the night.

  III. SOUVENIR

  Harlequin, seeing me gay
  You loved me,
  For fools need mirth,

  O solemn Harlequin!

  Tall tragedians make me laugh
  Joyously, riotously,
  Tall, dark villains, and heroes with blonde hair
  Make me laugh uproariously...
  (I could elope with a tragedian!)

  But you with your clowning, Harlequin,
  Brought bony truth too near--

  Harlequin, I might have loved you
  But I could not make you gay!

  IV. THE CURTAIN

  I do not fear
  You, or me, or death,

  There now is nothing left to fear
  But this,
  This curtain of blackness.

  Once I feared you,
  And all you thought and felt

  And all you said and did:
  I feared myself,
  And all you made me think and feel
  And say and do--

  Now I no longer fear
  Thinking, feeling, saying, doing,

  Nor blankness, silence, apathy, torpor--

  I do not fear
  You, or me, or death--

  I only fear
  This curtain of blackness
  Which is your absence.

  V. THE DREAM

  Harlequin comes to me, smiling,
  Through the white-shining birch trees
  Of the twilight wood.

  He has forgiven
  My cowardice and hesitations,
  Soon I shall sink into his arms
  With all the imagined fervour...
  Of a thousand dreams.

  Why does he come so slowly?
  There is no longer anything
  To mar our meeting...

  This must be real
  For Harlequin is still clowning,
  He waves his arms grotesquely
  To make me smile....

  Quick, into his arms
  With unspent fervour.
  Why are the trees all sighing?
  Look, whispering birches, if you will,
  I and my love embrace!

  They do not look,
  They do not seem to care...

  Embrace me, my beloved!
  (Can these by passionate kisses?
  They feel so thin and cool
  Like mist.)

  The birches shiver
  As though the night-wind stirred them.

  Can we be dead?

  Portrait of a Gentleman

  Tower of stone
  Rugged and lonely,
  My thoughts like ivy
  Embrace my memory of you,
  Climbing riotously, wantonly,
  Till the harsh walls
  Are clothed in tender green.

  Tower of stone,
  Stark walls and a narrow door
  Which speak:
       "You who are not for me
       Are against me,--
       If you are mine,
       Enter!"

  But who would be prisoned
  In unknown darkness?

  Tower of stone
  Rugged and lonely,
  I dared not enter and I would not go
  Till clasping you
  My arms were bruised and torn.

  From the Madison Street Police Station

       I, John Shepherd, vagrant,
  Petition the park commissioners
  For wider benches.

       My soul has long been reconciled
  To the prick of gunny-sack,
  (O well-remembered woollen fleeces!)
  And rustling vests of newspaper,
  And the chill of rubbers on unshod feet,
  But to the wasteful burning of dry leaves,
  God's shepherd's mattress,
  Never!

       Descendant of ancient ones
  Who tended flocks and watched the midnight sky,
  My forebears saw the Eastern star appear
  Over Judean hills.

       Where do your flocks graze, gentlemen?
  Are there no sheep or shepherds any more?
  All day long I sought the flocks
  And came by night to a wide, grassy place,
  Where I could sit and watch the stars wheel by--
  And in the morning some one brought me here.

  La Felice

  La Felice, by the forest pond
  looks through leaves to the Western screen
  of Chinese gold that lies beyond
  black trees and boughs of golden-green.

  The little body of La Felice
  weary of everything on earth
  has passed from love to love, till peace
  and beauty alone have any worth.

  So still and deep the water lies,
  so fiery-cool, so yellow-clear;
  Here beauty sleeps! La Felice cries,
  I will give myself to beauty here!"

  The mud is smooth and deep, the weeds
  beneath her feet are soft and cool,
  ripples widen and glistening beads
  of bubble rise on the forest pool.

  The water reaches to her knee,
  now to her thigh, now to her breast,
  till like a child all peacefully
  does La Felice lie down to rest.

  She struggles like a fearful bride
  with ecstasy--then La Felice
  turns quietly upon her side
  and over the sunset pool is peace.

  The Journey

  Three women walked through the snow
       Beneath an empty sky,
  And one was blind, and one was old,
       And one was I.

  Bravely the Blind One led,
       I questioned from behind
  "Tell me, where do we go?" She said
       "Have courage... I am blind!"

  We came at last to a cliff,
       The Blind One plunged, and was gone--
  I looked behind me, stark and stiff
       The Old One stood in the dawn.

  The deep crevasse was black
       Beneath the dawning day,
  I could not turn and travel back,
       The Old One barred the way.

  I could not turn aside,
       (To lead, one dare not see)
  I think that day I must have died
       Such silence is in me.

  The Last Illusion

  Along the twilight road I met three women,
  And they were neither old nor very young;
  In her hands each bore what she most cherished,
  For they were neither rich, nor very poor.

       In the hands of the first woman
       I saw white ashes in an urn,
       In the hands of the next woman
       I saw a tarnished mirror gleam,
       In the hands of the last woman
       I saw a heavy, jagged stone--

  Along the twilight road I met three women,
  And they were neither fools nor very wise,
  For each was troubled lest another covet
  Her precious burden--so they walked alone.


  The Desert

  Through dusty years, and drearily,
  Two lovers rode across a desert hill
  While patient love followed them wearily
  Through the long, sultry day...
  But when night came, the desert had its way,
  Turning, they found love cold and still.

  It lay so pitiful a thing,
  Threadbare, and soiled, and worn--
  "Why have we kept such starveling love?" she cried,
  "Was it worth treasuring?"
  And he replied:
  "Bury it then! I shall not mourn!"

  The wind came from the West,
  It seemed to blow
  Across a million graves to the sordid bier
  Where lay their love. She said: "We will bury it here!"
  They laid it low,
  They rode on, dispossessed.

  And all around
  Rose silent hills against the darkening sky,
  Wave upon motionless wave.
  The night wind made a mournful sound.
  The woman turned: "It is lonely here!
  I am afraid!" she said.
  He made reply:
  "What is there left to lose or save?
  What is there left to fear?
  Our hearts are empty. Have we not buried our dead?"
  She said, "I fear the empty dark, be kind!"
  He said, "I am still here, be comforted!"

  Then from its shallow grave
  Their love rose up and followed close behind.

  The Picnic

  Here they come, in pairs, carrying baskets,
  Pale clerks with brilliant neckties, and cheap serge suits,
  Steering girls by the arm, clerks, too,
  Pretty and slim and smart,
  Even to yellow kid boots, laced up behind.

  They take the electric cars far into the country,
  They descend, gaily chattering, at the Amusement Park.
  Under the trees they eat the lunch they have carried--
  Salad, sausages, sandwiches, candy, warm beer.
  They ride in the roller-coaster, two in a seat,
  (Glorious danger! Warm, delicious proximity!)
  The unaccustomed beer floods their veins like heady wine,
  And smothered youth awakens with shrill screams of joy.

  The sun sets, and evening is drowned in electric lights;
  Arm-in-arm, they wander under the trees
  Everywhere meeting others, wandering arm-in-arm
  In the same wistful wonder, seeking they know not what.

  Two leave the park and the crowds--The stars shine out,
  A river runs at their feet, behind them, a leafy copse,
  Away on the other shore, the fields of grain
  Lie sleeping peacefully in the starlight.
  Tonight the world is theirs, a legacy
  From those who lived familiar friends with river, field and forest--
  Their forebears.

  Through the night, the same earth-magic moves them
  Which swayed those ancient ones, long-dead--
  And these, too, lean and drink,
  Drink deeply from the river, the flowing river of life.

  Slowly they return to the crowds and the brilliant lights,
  Dazzled, they look aside, silently climb on the cars.
  They cling to the swaying straps, weary, inert, confused.
  The lurching ear makes halt--they are thrown in each others' arms--
  Alien and unmoved, they sway apart again--
  The car moves through the fields and suburbs back to the town.

  They leave the car in pairs, the picnic basket's
  Rattling dismally, plate and spoon and jar.
  The boy takes his girl to her lodgings in awkward silence.

  They look askance--"Good-night!"--the front door closes,
  Indeed their eyes have not met, since by the river
  Those wondrous moments
  Linked them to earth and night, not to each other.

  IV.  INTERLUDE

  Mountain Trails
  (GLACIER PARK, SEPT. '17)

  I

  Night stands in the valley
  Her head
  Is bound with stars,
  While Dawn, a grey-eyed nun
  Steals through the silent trees.
  Behind the mountains
  Morning shouts and sings
  And dances upward.

  II

  The peaks even today show finger prints
  Where God last touched the earth
  Before he set it joyously in space
  Finding it good.

  III

  You, slender shining--
  You, downward leaping--
  Born from silent snow
  To drown at last in the blue silent
  Mountain lake--
  You are not snow or water,
  You are only a silver spirit
  Singing!

  IV

  Sharp crags of granite,
  Pointing, threatening,
  Thrust fiercely up at me;
  And near the edge, their menace
  Would whirl me down.

  V

  Climbing desperately toward the heights
  I glance in terror behind me
  To be deafened--to be shattered--
  By a thunderbolt of beauty.

  VI

  The mountains hold communion;
  They are priests, silent and austere,
  They have come together
  In a secret place
  With unbowed heads.

  VII

  This hidden lake
  Is a sapphire cup--
  An offering clearer than wine,
  Colder than tears.
  The mountains hold it toward the sky
  In silence.

  October Morning

  October is brown
  In field and row--

       Yet goldenrod
       And goldenglow,
       Purple asters
       And ruddy oaks,
       Sumach spreading
       Crimson cloaks,
       Apples red
       And pumpkins gold--?

  Perhaps it's gayer
  To be old!

  October Afternoon

       The air is warm and winey-sweet,
  Over my head the oak-leaves shine
  Like rich Madeira, glossy brown,
  Or garnet red, like old Port wine.
  Wild grapes are ripening on the hill,
  Dead leaves curl thickly at my feet,
  Yet not one falls, it is so still.
  Crickets are singing in the sun,
  And aimlessly grasshoppers leap
  From discontent to discontent,
  Their days of leaping nearly done.
  There's a rich quietness of earth
  That holds no promise any more,
  And like a cup, Today is filled
  With the last wine the year shall pour.

  Maternity

  Sturdy is earth,
  Dull and mighty,
  Unresentful--
  Of her own fertility
  Covering scars
  With healing green.

  You cannot anger earth,
  You cannot cause her pain
  Nor make her remember
  Your hungry, querulous love.

  At last your unwilling body
  She tranquilly receives
  And turns it to her uses.

  The Father Speaks

  My little son, when you were born
       There died a being, sweet and wild,
       A lovely, careless, radiant child,
  A passionate woman--her I mourn.

  And in her place has come another,
       With troubled smile and brooding eyes,
       Insatiate of sacrifice
  And wholly, utterly your mother.

  To Allen

  Beauty, the dream that I have dreamed so much
  Comes true in your quick smile,
  And on your cheek I see her touch
  And sometimes in your eyes a while
  Immortal beauty's fleeting image lies.
  Dear child, in whose veins beat
  The marching centuries of lovers' feet,
  All those brave, ardent ghosts in you arise--
  The souls who, loving beauty, gave you birth,
  With a chain of passion binding beauty to earth,
  A captured dream--these souls breathe with your breath
  Living again in beauty that knows no death.

  To Helen

  Lie still in my arms, little four-years-old,
       Little bud that glows
  With more beauty and passion than it can hold,
       Little flaming rose,

  The spring's red blossoms, when winter lies deep
       On a wind-swept world
  Of tossing branches, lie safely asleep
       In brown buds curled.

  They wake--and the wind strips their petals away
       And spills them afar--
  Can I keep you from blooming, whatever I say,
       Wild bud that you are!

  The Immortal

       Child of a love denied, a dream unborn,
  Spirit more brave
  Than passion's unfulfilment, wiser than fate--
  Nor breast nor grave
  As cradle you have known,--
  I mourn
  That my soul knows its own
  Too late!

       A soul's half-breath,
  Passion's unremembered dream,
  Perfume without a vase,
  Intangible you seem
  To life or death.

       And when the coloured mantle of the days
  Slips from my shoulders, and I lie
  Forgetful, dumb,
  Mingled with earth in passionless embrace,
  Will you, forgotten as a bird,
  Singing unheard
  In space,
  Will you not come
  When every other dream is gone,
  Bringing to that silent place
  The shadow of a gesture flung
  By motionless hands, a floating echo hung
  From an unspoken word,
  And to the empty sky
  The sunset of a day which did not dawn
  And cannot die!

  To an Absent Child

  I

  At first in dreams
  I pressed you so close
  That you melted away on my breast,
  But now I wait, breathless and motionless,
  Till I feel your slender arms caress me
  Like swallows blown against me
  And quickly flown.

  II

  Small flower,
  My body is the earth from which you sprang,
  But we are more to each other than earth and flower,
  Closer, even, than earth and flower,
  For the sky in me is one with the sky in you...

  My love for you
  Is like sunlight shining in a quiet place,
  You shall feel my love like soft light
  Pouring about you.

  III

  I will not kiss you,
  For my kisses are a chain without an end;
  Nor take you in my arms,
  My arms would smother you against my breast;
  I will not even touch your shining head--
  But lift your eyes up, flower-face,
  And I will fill them as full of love
  As they can hold!

  IV

  Ah no! If you were here
  I would sweep you into my arms and hold you close!
  Though my love is of the spirit
  I must feel your little restless body
  Pressed for a moment against my heart.

  Summer Night

  Rain, rain murmuring endless complaints
  In mournful whisperings that never cease,
  You bring my tired brain a certain peace
  Like Latin prayers to absent-minded saints.

  And whether silently to earth you fall,
  Or dashed and driven in tempestuous flight
  Like souls before God's wrath, the thirsty night,
  The soft and fecund earth shall drink you all.

  Maura

  I

  Maura dreams unwakened--
  The warm winds touch the bands
  That hold her hair.
  The call of a silver horn floats by,
  A lover tosses flowers into her hands.

  Maura dreams unwakened--
  She joins the maidens in their dance,
  Her limbs follow slow rhythms,
  A lover leads her into the shade,
  She moves as in a trance.

  II

  What dim confusion
  Troubles her dream,
  What passionate caress
  Disturbs her spirit's rapt seclusion?

  Earth draws her close. How warm
  Is lover-earth! Like a sleeping bird
  She gives herself, then suddenly
  She is a leaf whirled in the storm.

  Somewhere in a quiet room, her soul unstirred,
  Dead... or sleeping,
  Through the blind tumult hears afar
  The note of a horn, like a silver thread.
  She has given her soul to an echo's keeping.

  III

  Who knows the mountain where the hunter rides
  Winding his horn?
  Maura who heard it in her dream
  Wakens forlorn,
  Too late to catch the tenuous thread
  Of silver sound
  Which in the troubled, intricate fugue of earth
  Is drowned.

  IV

  Maura cannot follow over the hill,
  Her youth is landlocked as a hidden pool
  Where thirsty love drinks deep,
  A shining pool, where lingers
  The colour of an unseen golden sky,
  A pool where echoes fall asleep.

  But restless fingers
  Trouble the waters cool,
  Snatch at reflected beauty, and destroy
  The mirrored dream. The pool is never still,
  And broken echoes die.

  V

  The silver call has gone, but there is left to her
  The gentleness of earth,
  The simple mysteries of sleep and death,
  Of love and birth.
  There are faces hungry for smiles, and starving fingers
  Reaching for dreams.

  And like a memory are the wind-swept chords of night,
  And the wide melody of evening sky
  Where gleams
  A colour like the echo of a horn.
  There is a far hill where winds die,
  And over the hill lies music yet unborn.

  VI

  Maura lies dead at last,
  The body she gave to child and lover
  Now feeds flower and tree.

  Earth's arms are wide to her. What breast
  Offers such gentle sleeping?
  Her limbs lie peacefully.

  From the dark West
  There comes a note like the echoing cry
  Of one who rides through the dusk alone
  After the hunt sweeps by.

  It fades--the night wind is forlorn--
  Music is still,
  But Maura has followed the silver horn
  Over the distant hill,
  Over the hill where all winds die.

  November Dusk

  Where like ghosts of verdant days
       Whispering down,
  Leaves in the November dusk
       Drift and drown,

  Stand two lovers, motionless
       And apart
  In their sturdy nakedness
       Of the heart,

  Two dark figures, side by side
       Through the mist
  Standing as though time had died
       Since they kissed,

  Whose deep roots, alive and sound
       Blindly reach
  Mingling in the fertile ground
       Each with each--

  Pray that we, when gaunt and old
       Like bare trees
  Through our common earth may hold
       Close, like these!


  Winter Valley

  I

  Grey grasses drown
  in thin brown water
  Wound like a chain on the valley's
  Sunken breast.

  Fallen leaves on the stream
  Float motionless--rest--
  So secretly the pale
  Water winds around
  Toward hidden pools,

  Or sinking in the earth
  Is drowned.

  II

  Curved crimson stems,
  Thorny fingers of vine,
  Reach toward the wind.

  Sunlight, thin and cold,
  Touches them--they shine.

  Nothing passes for thorns to hold--
  Red thorns,
  Catching at shadows of the wind.

  III

  Silence in the valley,
  Silence without wings--

  Like the caught breath
  Of an unspoken word
  When no words come.

  Withered reeds, and thin brown water
  Above the reeds
  Are dumb.

  IV

  For what are you waiting, winter valley,
  Withered valley, brown with reeds?
  You are hushed with waiting.

  You are old with secrets,
  You are tranquil with forgetting.

  You are harsh with thorns
  Of fruits long vanished.

  V.  Love Poems in Autumn

  Ballad

  Follow, follow me into the South,
       And if you are brave and wise
  I'll buy you laughter for your mouth,
       Sorrow for your eyes.

  I'll buy you laughter, wild and sweet,
       And sorrow, grey and still,
  But you must follow with willing feet
       Over the farthest hill.

  Follow, follow me into the South,
       You may return tomorrow
  Wearing my kisses on your mouth,
       In your eyes my sorrow.

  The Pathway of Black Leaves

  I. THE TURNING

  The pathway opened before her eyes
  Between black leaves--
  She laughed, and shivered, and turned aside
  From the dusty road.

  Her feet moved on like heart-beats,
  She could not stop them;
  Relentlessly each step fulfilled itself
  And the steps behind it--
  A hidden chain, drawing her onward
  Captive.

  And yet she said: "Now I walk free
  At last!"

  II.   TOLL-GATE

  The sign read:

       "Paupers may pass untaxed,
       The Rich shall pay a penny,
       The Poor
       Must give all they possess."

  She emptied her pockets bravely and passed through...
  They gave her a golden coin in return for her silver,
  Bearing on one side the head of a king,
  And on the other a worn inscription
  Curved like a wreath
  And written in a tongue she did not know.

  III. THE INN

  There was the inn, beside the path,
  Standing like the words of an ancient prophet
  Forgotten long, now suddenly come true.

       "They who break bread here
       Shall not eat for hunger;
       They who lie here
       Shall not sleep."

  All night long the black leaves, one by one,
  Laughed, and shivered, and fell into darkness.

  IV. RETURN

  She has come home
  To the house she knew:
  But she has forgotten
  The square oaken smile of the door.

  The room is a stranger,
  The fire is sullen;
  On her hair a black leaf shines
  And clings where it fell.

  Against her heart
  She has hidden away
  The bitter golden profile of a king.

  Elegy

  I would be autumn earth, and hold
  Your beautiful body, slain,
  Where, lying still and cold,
  Only the winter rain
  Shall touch your limbs and face;
  Where the white frost shall wed.
  Your body to black mould
  In the close, passionless embrace
  Of that dark marriage bed:
  I would be autumn earth, and hold
  Your beautiful body, dead.

  Sequence

  I.  ARRIVAL

  Shining highways
  Sing to your step,
  Windows beckon,
  Doorways open a square embrace.

  Doors laugh gently
  Swinging together
  Behind you.

  II. THE TOWER

  There's a flag on my tower,
  And my windows
  Are orange to the night.
  They are set in grey stone that frowns
  At the black wind.

  Inside, there's a guest at my hearth,
  And a fire
  Painting the grey stone gold.
  My windows are black
  With the hungry night peering through them.

  Blackness lurks in corners,
  Wind snatches the sparks,
  Tongs and poker jangle together
  Like the iron bones
  Of a man that was hanged.

  III. THEY WHO DANCE

  The feet of dancers
  Shine with mirth,
  Their hearts are vibrant as bells:

  The air flows by them
  Divided like water
  Cut by a gleaming ship.

  Triumphantly their bodies sing,
  Their eyes are blind
  With music.

  They move through threatening ghosts
  Feeling them cool as mist
  On their brows.

  They who dance
  Find infinite golden floors
  Beneath their feet.

  IV. PIANISSIMO

  I took Night
  Into my arms,
  Night lay upon my breast.

  If night had wings
  She would have brought me
  Stars for my hair.

  The stars laughed
  Lightly
  From far away.

  About my shoulders
  White mist curled.

  V. PORTRAIT BY ZULOAGA

  Death lies in wait
  For those who do not know
  What they desire,
  And Hell for those
  Who fear what they have taken.

  These hands are wrinkled
  From stretching forth,
  Brown
  From the winds blowing upon them.

  They are strong with seizing,
  They do not tremble.

  VI. GESTURES

  Let there be dancing figures
  On our wine-flask,
  Swastikas on our rug,
  Inscriptions in our rings
  And on our dwelling.

  Let us build ritual
  For our worship,
  Pledge our love
  With vows and holy promises.

  If oaths are broken,
  Let it be darkly
  With threatening gestures.

  Thus we ignore
  That we love and die
  Like insects.

  VII. VEILS

  I shall punish your blindness
  With a veil.

  I shall choose words that join
  Gaily word to word,
  I shall weave them flauntingly
  Into veil upon veil,

  I shall wind them defiantly
  Over my lips, over my eyes.

  You shall not see your name
  On my lips,
  You shall not see your image
  In my eyes!

  And through my veils I shall not see
  That you are blind.

  VIII. FREEDOM

  I would be free
  From two old superstitions,
  Thanks and Forgiveness.

  So I would think of you
  As Flame,
  As Wind,
  As Night,

  To whom I have been
  Wind,
  And Flame
  And Night,

  Together burned and swept,
  Now smothered
  In separate darkness.

  IX.  MUD

  I am dazed and weary
  From the shapelessness
  Of what I am--

  I am poured
  Among haphazard stones
  In meaningless patterns.

  Yesterday's sun dried me
  Between rounded cobbles,
  Today's deluge sweeps me
  Toward alien pavements,
  Tomorrow's sun shall dry me
  In a new design.

  Better the turbid gutter
  Toward the open sea!

  X. FOOLS SAY--

  November's breath
  Is black in the branches of trees
  And under the bushes,

  Harsh rain
  Whips down the rustling dance
  Of leaves.

  There is smoke
  In the throat of the wind,
  Its teeth
  Bite away beauty.

  Let fools say:
  "Spring
  Will come again!"

  Disillusion

  I touch joy and it crumbles under my fingers--
  The dust from it rises and fills the world,
  It blinds my eyes--I cannot see the sun.
  A choking fog of dust shuts me apart.

  I remember the sparkling wind on a bright autumn morning,
  I let down my hair and danced in the golden gale,
  Then chased the wind as the wind chased fallen leaves--
  Wind cannot be caught and tamed like a bird.

  I touch joy and it crumbles to dust in my fingers.

  November Afternoon

  Upon our heads
  The oak leaves fall
  Like silent benedictions
  Closing Autumn's gorgeous ritual,
  And we, upborne by worship,
  Lift our eyes to the altar of distant hills.

  Beloved
  How can I know
  What gods are yours,
  How can I guess the visions of your spirit,
  Or hear
  The silent prayers your heart has said?

  Only by this I feel
  Your gods akin to mine,
  That when our lips have met
  On this last golden Autumn afternoon
  They have confessed in silence
  Our kisses were less precious than our dreams.

  Today, our passion drowned in beauty,
  We turn away our faces toward the hills
  Where purple haze, old incense,
  Spreads its veil.


  Yareth at Solomon's Tomb

       At last
  Your search is at an end,
  King Solomon,

       You, restless dreamer,
  For whom each face held promise
  Unfulfilled,
  Whose hungry arms held many women,
  (Though none could fill your need)
  Who seized, but never loved,
  This is your sepulchre...

       I who till today
  Questioned my heart
  Now find it buried with you
  In this tomb;

       So now I can forgive you
  That you never believed
  My love!

  Argolis

  Like sun on grasses
  Warming to life
  Quaint beetles, curious weeds,
  Till earth awakens, pregnant beneath its rays--
  So came the shepherds down to Argolis.

  As nameless trees
  Cast cloud-grey shadows there
  On moon-pale, tarnished snow,
  Till snow and shadow are lost,
  Alike confused and forgotten
  Among the withered reeds--
  So lies their memory across its heart.

  St. Faith's Eve

       We stood together on a balcony
  An hour when the night
  Died into blankness,
  And light mist
  Curling beneath us, hid the earth,
  And the cold, unburied stars
  Drew further into space...

       I turned to meet your eyes
  And saw
  Like a light, rosy veil
  Your flesh sink gently down
  Leaving only the simple skeleton
  And a white voice which said:
  "This still is I,
  Do you love me
  Now?"

       Quietly, and without sadness
  I looked upon you,
  For comfort blindly reached my soul
  And primitive beauty.
  Without passion, without fervour,
  I spoke at last:
  "Somehow Faith
  Shines from your empty eye-holes,
  And Truth
  Speaks mutely from your fleshless jaws.
  I choose your skeleton to lie with
  In the peaceful bed of earth
  Through all the dreamless, mornless, utter night!"

  Poems of Elijah Hay

  The Golden Stag

  O hungry hearted ones, sharp-limbed, keen-eyed,
       Let me have place!
  I too would ride
       On your fantastic chase.

  Your hunger is a silver hunting horn,
       I heard it sweep
  The frozen, peaceful morn:
       Its note bit me from sleep.

  I will ride with you, hunters, even I,
       Toward a far hill
  To see the golden stag against the sky
       Uncaptured still.

  To Anne Knish

  Madam, you intrigue me!

  I have come this far
  Cautiously sneezing
  Along the dusty highroad of convention,
  But now it leads no farther toward you.

  Today
  I have reached the cross roads--
  A weather-beaten sign-board
  Blazons undecipherable wisdom
  Of which the arrow-heads, even,
  Have been effaced.

  Eastward, it leads through cultivated fields
  Of intellectual fodder,
  Where well-fed cattle, herding together,
  Browse content:
  Are you of these?

  Westward, is a lane, hedge-bordered,
  Shady, and of gentle indirection,
  In May, a bower of sentimental bloom,
  But this November weather
  Betrays its destiny, the poultry yard
  Where geese foregather.

  And there ahead, the ancient, swampy way
  Modernized by a feeble plank or two:
  But the morass of passion lures me not!
  I see a vision of two plunging feet,
  Discreetly shod, yet struggling in vain--
  Slime
  Creeps ankle-high, knee-high, thigh-high,
  Till all is swallowed save a brave silk hat
  Floating alone, a symbol of the creed
  I perished shedding.

  Yet somewhere you
  Intelligent of my distress
  Smile, undisturbed--
  I have no pedlar's license to submit,
  No wares to cry, nor any gift to bring--
  I do not know
  Anything new--
  In truth, then, what have I to do with you?

  Yet, madam, you intrigue me!


  Lolita

  How curious to find in you, Lolita,
  The geisha
  Who sits and strums in the immortal
  Attitude of submission.
  There is a ledger in place of her soul!

  Your shoulders sang
  For admiration,
  Your hair wept for kisses,
  Your voice curved softly, a caress--
  You came among us as a suppliant,
  What had we you desired?

  Bringing to market stolen goods,
  Holding to view used charms,
  Behold a hawker's spirit!

  Eagles perch proudly
  In isolation,
  They swoop to seize a living prey--
  Crows hover to feed,
  Waiting with patience till the soul is fled
  Leaving a helpless body--carrion--
  (Vile thoughts obsess me!)

  What did you want, Lolita?


  Spectrum of Mrs. Q.

  Fear not, beautiful lady,
  That I shall ravish you!
  Your arms are languorous lilies--
  There is not a thorn
  In all your slender greenness,
  And you are sweet to madden buzzing bees!

  Fear not, beautiful lady,
  A hard, black cricket
  Inspects you.


  Epitaph

  Courage is a sword,
  Honour, but a shield...
  Here lies a turtle.


  A Sixpence

  OBVERSE

  If I loved you,
  You would rear
  Eight healthy children
  To our love,
  (Forgetting me)
  And be happy.

  REVERSE

  But I do not love you,
  So you will write
  Eight hundred poems
  To our love,
  (Forgetting me)
  And be happy!


  Three Spectra

  Of Mrs. X.

  You--
  Too well fed for rebellion,
  Too lazy for self-respect, too timid for murder,
  Disgracefully steal the trade-mark of the fairy-tale--
  "And they lived together happily
  Ever after!"

  Of Mrs. Z.

  Madam, you are ever retreating,
  But are never
  Gone--
  Some day I shall pursue you
  Hoping to see you
  Vanish.

  Of Mrs. Andsoforth.

  Old ladies, bless their hearts,
  Are contented as house-flies
  Dozing against the wall.
  But you,
  Imprisoned in the forties,
  Delirious, frenzied, helpless,
  Are a fly, drowning in a cocktail!


  Two Commentaries

  I.  TO AN ACTOR

  You are a gilded card-case
  Which I took for a purse.
  Your spirit's coin was squandered long ago,
  And in its place
  Are white cards, all alike,
  Bearing a word,
  A name,
  Connoting nothing.

  2.  PHILOSOPHER TO ARTIST

  You are a raisin, but I am a nut!
  What meat there is to you
  Can be seen at a glance--
  (Seeds, when they exist, are bitter)
  My calm, round glossiness,
  (For I am sound and free
  From wormy restlessness of spirit)
  Defies your casual inspection.

  It takes sharp teeth
  And some determination
  To taste my kernel!


  A Womanly Woman

  You sit, a snug, warm kitten
  Blinking through the window
  At a storm-haunted world--

  Sleet wind caterwauls
  Through icy trees,
  Which clack their hands at you
  Tauntingly.

  Why should you leave
  Radiator and rubber-plant?
  Do people stand at attention to mourn a hero
  When they behold
  A frozen kitten
  In a gutter?


  Lolita Now Is Old

  Lolita now is old,
  She sits in the park, watching the young men pass
  And huddles her shawl against the cold.

  One night last summer when the moon was red,
  Lolita, hearing an old song sung
  And amorous laughter down the street
  Left her bed--
  Lolita thought she was young.

  With ancient finery on her back,
  A lace mantilla hiding her grey head,
  She crept into the warm and alien night.

  Her trembling knees remembered the languid pace
  Of beauty on adventure bent--her fan
  Waved challenges with unforgotten grace.
  Cunningly she played her part
  For to her peering age
  Love was a well-remembered art.

  Footsteps followed her--footsteps drew near!
  She dropped a rose--hush, he is here!
  There came hard arms and a panting kiss--

  He felt the fraud of those withered lips,
  He cursed and spat--"Was it for this,
  You came, old woman, to the park?"
  Lolita gathered skirts and fled
  Through the dim dark.

  Lolita huddles her shawl against the cold,
  She sits and mumbles by the fire.  In truth
  Lolita knows she is old.


  The Shining Bird

  A bird is three things:
  Feathers, flight and song,
  And feathers are the least of these.

  At last I hold her in my hands
  The shining bird whose flight along
  The perilous rim of trees
  Has made my days adventurous, my spirit strong.

  And now her wings
  Are still--her vivid song
  But ceaseless twitterings.

  Her words are feathers, falling
  Lightly, relentlessly, and without rest,
  Revealing to my face
  Her pinched and starveling breast
  Like poultry, dead and unashamed
  And naked in the market place.

  A shattered flash of wings,
  A broken song,
  Echo and shine along the rim of trees.


  The King Sends Three Cats to Guinevere

  Queen Guinevere,
  Three sleek and silent cats
  Bring you gifts from me.

  The first is a grey one,
  (I wanted a white one,
  I could not find one snowy white enough,
  Queen Guinevere,)
  He brings you purple grapes.

  The second is a grey one,
  (I wanted a sleek one,
  Where could I find one sleek enough,
  Queen Guinevere?)
  He brings you a red apple.

  The third one, too, is grey.
  (I wanted a black one,
  Not Hate itself could find one black enough,
  Queen Guinevere,)
  He brings you poison toadstools.

  I send you three grey cats with gifts--
  (For uniformity of metaphor,
  Since Bacchus, Satan, and the Hangman
  Are not contemporaneous in my mythology)
  I send you three grey cats with gifts,
  Queen Guinevere,
  To warn you, sleekly, silently
  To pay the forfeit.


  Ode in the New Mode

  Your face
  Was a temple
  From which your soul
  Came to me beneath arched brows:
  And my soul knelt at your feet.

  Then
  Inadvertently
  I saw your leg
  Curved and turned like a bird-song
  Dying into ecstatic silence at the garter...

  Wretched
  Women!
  When you are wholly lovely
  Man cannot forget either of his two afflictions,
  Soul, or body!


  Night

  I opened the door
  And night stared at me like a fool,
  Heavy dull night, clouded and safe--
  I turned again toward the uncertainties
  Of life within doors.

  Once night was a lion,
  No, years ago, night was a python
  Weaving designs against space
  With undulations of his being--
  Night was a siren once.

  O sodden, middle-aged night!





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