Author:

Thora’s Song (‘Ashtaroth’)

We severed in Autumn early,
Ere the earth was torn by the plough;
The wheat and the oats and the barley
Are ripe for the harvest now.
We sunder’d one misty morning
Ere the hills were dimm’d by the rain;
Through the flowers those hills adorning —
Thou comest not back again.

My heart is heavy and weary
With the weight of a weary soul;
The mid-day glare grows dreary,
And dreary the midnight scroll.
The corn-stalks sigh for the sickle,
‘Neath the load of their golden grain;
I sigh for a mate more fickle —
Thou comest not back again.

The warm sun riseth and setteth,
The night bringeth moistening dew,
But the soul that longeth forgetteth
The warmth and the moisture too.
In the hot sun rising and setting
There is naught save feverish pain;
There are tears in the night-dews wetting —
Thou comest not back again.

Thy voice in my ear still mingles
With the voices of whisp’ring trees,
Thy kiss on my cheek still tingles
At each kiss of the summer breeze.
While dreams of the past are thronging
For substance of shades in vain,
I am waiting, watching and longing —
Thou comest not back again.

Waiting and watching ever,
Longing and lingering yet;
Leaves rustle and corn-stalks quiver,
Winds murmur and waters fret.
No answer they bring, no greeting,
No speech, save that sad refrain,
Nor voice, save an echo repeating —
He cometh not back again.

A Dedication

They are rhymes rudely strung with intent less
Of sound than of words,
In lands where bright blossoms are scentless,
And songless bright birds;
Where, with fire and fierce drought on her tresses,
Insatiable Summer oppresses
Sere woodlands and sad wildernesses,
And faint flocks and herds.
Where in drieariest days, when all dews end,
And all winds are warm,
Wild Winter’s large floodgates are loosen’d,
And floods, freed by storm;
From broken-up fountain heads, dash on
Dry deserts with long pent up passion–
Here rhyme was first framed without fashion,
Song shaped without form.
Whence gather’d?–The locust’s glad chirrup
May furnish a stave;
The ring os rowel and stirrup,
The wash of a wave.
The chauntof a marsh frog in rushes
That chimes through the pauses and hushes
Of nightfall, the torrent that gushes,
The tempests that rave.
In the deep’ning of dawn, when it dapples
The dusk of the sky,
With streaks like the redd’ning of apples,
The ripening of rye.
To eastward, when cluster by cluster,
Dim stars and dull planets, that muster,
Wax wan in a world of white lustre
That spreads far and high.
In the gathering of night gloom o’er head, in
The still silent change,
All fire-flush’d when forest trees redden
On slopes of the range.
When the gnarl’d knotted trunks Eucalyptian
Seemed carved like weird columns Egyptian
With curious device–quaint inscription,
And heiroglyph strange.
In the Spring, when the wattle gold trembles
‘Twixt shadow and shine,
When each dew-laden air draught resembles
A long draught of wine;
When the skyline’s blue burnished resistance
Makes deeper the dreamiest distance,
Some song in all hearts hath existence,–
Such songs have been mine.

Nocturne Iii

One night
one night all full of murmurings, of perfumes and music of wings;
one night
in which fantastic fireflies burnt in the humid nuptial shadows,
slowly by my side, pressed altogether close, silent and pale,
as if a presentiment of infinite bitternesses
agitated you unto the most hidden fibers of your being,
along the flowering path which crosses the plain
you walked;
and the full moon
in the infinite and profound blue heavens scattered its white light;
and your shadow,
fine and languid,
and my shadow
projected by the rays of the moon,
upon the sorrowful sands
of the path, joined together;
and they became one,
and they became one,
and they became only one long shadow,
and they became only one long shadow,
and they became only one long shadow….

Tonight
alone; my soul
full of the infinite bitternesses and agonies of your death,
separated from you by time, by the tomb and by distance,
by the infinite blackness
where our voice cannot reach,
silent and alone
along the path I walked …
And the barking of dogs at the moon could be heard,
at the pale moon,
and the chirping
of the frogs …
I felt cold. It was the coldness that in your alcove
your cheeks and your temples and your adoréd hands possessed
within the snowy whiteness
of the mortuary sheets.
It was the coldness of the sepulcher, it was the ice of death,
it was the coldness of oblivion.
And my shadow,
projected by the rays of the moon,
walked alone,
walked alone,
walked alone along the solitary plain;
and your shadow, svelte and agile,
fine and languid,
as in that warm night of springtime death,
as in that night full of murmurings, of perfumes and music of wings,
approached and walked with mine,
approached and walked with mine,
approached and walked with mine … Oh, the shadows intertwined!
Oh, the corporeal shadows united with the shadows of the souls!
Oh, the seeking shadows in those nights of sorrows and of tears!

The Menu

I beg you come to-night and dine.
A welcome waits you, and sound wine–
The Roederer chilly to a charm,
As Juno’s breath the claret warm,
The sherry of an ancient brand.
No Persian pomp, you understand–
A soup, a fish, two meats, and then
A salad fit for aldermen
(When alderman, alas, the days!
Were really worth their mayonnaise);
A dish of grapes whose clusters won
Their bronze in Carolinian sun;
Next, cheese–for you the Neufchâtel,
A bit of Cheshire likes me well;
Café au lait or coffee black,
With Kirsch or Kümmel or Cognac
(The German band in Irving Place
By this time purple in the face);
Cigars and pipes. These being through,
Friends shall drop in, a very few–
Shakespeare and Milton, and no more.
When these are guests I bolt the door,
With Not at Home to any one
Excepting Alfred Tennyson.

Act V

[MIDNIGHT.]

First, two white arms that held him very close,
And ever closer as he drew him back
Reluctantly, the loose gold-colored hair
A thousand delicate fibers reaching out
Still to detain him; then some twenty steps
Of iron staircse winding round and down,
And ending in a narrow gallery hung
With Gobelin tapestries–Andromeda
Rescued by Perseus, and the sleek Diana
With her nymphs bathing; at the farther end
A door that gave upon a starlit grove
Of citron and clipt palm-trees; then a path
As bleached as moonlight, with the shadow of leaves
Stamped black upon it; next a vine-clad length
Of solid masonry; and last of all
A Gothic archway packed with night, and then–
A sudden gleaming dagger through his heart.

Alec Yeaton’s Son

GLOUCESTER, AUGUST, 1720

The wind it wailed, the wind it moaned,
And the white caps flecked the sea;
"An’ I would to God," the skipper groaned,
"I had not my boy with me!

Snug in the stern-sheets, little John
Laughed as the scud swept by;
But the skipper’s sunburnt cheeks grew wan
As he watched the wicked sky.

"Would he were at his mother’s side!"
And the skipper’s eyes were dim.
"Good Lord in heaven, if ill betide,
What would become of him!

"For me–my muscles are as steel,
For me let hap what may;
I might make shift upon the keel
Until the break o’ day.

"But he, he is so weak and small,
So young, scarce learned to stand–
O pitying Father of us all,
I trust him in Thy hand!

"For Thou, who makest from on high
A sparrow’s fall–each one!–
Surely, O Lord, thou’lt have an eye
On Alec Yeaton’s son!"

Then, helm hard-port; right straight he sailed
Towards the headland light:
The wind it moaned, the wind it wailed,
And black, black fell the night.

Then burst a storm to make one quail
Though housed from winds and waves–
They who could tell about that gale
Must rise from watery graves!

Sudden it came, as sudden went;
Ere half the night was sped,
The winds were hushed, the waves were spent,
And the stars shone overhead.

Now, as the morning mist grew thin,
The folk on Gloucester shore
Saw a little figure floating in
Secure, on a broken oar!

Up rose the cry, "A wreck! a wreck!
Pull, mates, and waste no breath!"–
They knew it, though ‘t was but a speck
Upon the edge of death!

Long did they marvel in the town
At God his strange decree,
That let the stalwart skipper drown
And the little child go free!

The Toys

My little Son, who look’d from thoughtful eyes
And moved and spoke in quiet grown-up wise,
Having my law the seventh time disobey’d,
I struck him, and dismiss’d
With hard words and unkiss’d,
—His Mother, who was patient, being dead.
Then, fearing lest his grief should hinder sleep,
I visited his bed,
But found him slumbering deep,
With darken’d eyelids, and their lashes yet
From his late sobbing wet.
And I, with moan,
Kissing away his tears, left others of my own;
For, on a table drawn beside his head,
He had put, within his reach,
A box of counters and a red-vein’d stone,
A piece of glass abraded by the beach,
And six or seven shells,
A bottle with bluebells,
And two French copper coins, ranged there with careful art,
To comfort his sad heart.
So when that night I pray’d
To God, I wept, and said:
Ah, when at last we lie with trancèd breath,
Not vexing Thee in death,
And Thou rememberest of what toys
We made our joys,
How weakly understood
Thy great commanded good,
Then, fatherly not less
Than I whom Thou hast moulded from the clay,
Thou’lt leave Thy wrath, and say,
‘I will be sorry for their childishness.’

Deliciae Sapientiae De Amore

Love, light for me
Thy ruddiest blazing torch,
That I, albeit a beggar by the Porch
Of the glad Palace of Virginity,
May gaze within,k and sing the pomp I see;
For, crown’d with roses all,
‘Tis there, O Love, they keep thy festival!
But first warn off the beatific spot
Those wretched who have not
Even afar beheld the shining wall,
And those who, once beholding, have forgot,
And those, most vile, who dress
The charnel spectre drear
Of utterly dishallow’d nothingness
In that refulgent fame,
And cry, Lo, here!
And name
The Lady whose smiles inflame
The sphere.
Bring, Love, anear, And bid be not afraid
Young Lover true, and love-foreboding Maid,
And wedded Spouse, if virginal of thought;
for I will sing of nought
Less sweet to hear
Than seems
A music their half-remember’d dreams.
The magnet calls the steel:
Answers the iron to the magnet’s breath;
What do they feel
But death!
The clouds of summer kiss in flame and rain,
And are not found again;
But the heavens themselves eternal are with fire
Of unapproach’d desire,
By the aching heart of Love, which cannot rest,
In blissfullest pathos so indeed possess’d.
O, spousals high;
O, doctrine blest,
Unutterable in even the happiest sigh;
This know ye all
Who can recall
With what a welling of indignant tears
LOve’s simpleness first hears
The meaning of his mortal covenant,
And from what pride comes down
To wear the crown
Of which ’twas very heaven to feel the want.
How envies he the ways
Of yonder hopeless star,
And so would laugh and yearn
With trembling lids eterne,
Ineffably content from infinitely far
Only to gaze
On his bright Mistress’s responding rays,
That never know eclipse;
And, once in his long year, With praeternuptial ecstasy and fear,
By the delicious law of that ellipse
Wherein all citizens of ether move,
With hastening pace to come
Nearer, though never near,
His Love
And always inaccessible sweet Home;
There on his path doubly to burn,
Kiss’d by her doubled light
That whispers of its source,
The ardent secret ever clothed with Night,
Then go forth in new force
Towards a new return,
Rejoicing as a Bridegroom on his course!
This know ye all;
Therefore gaze bold,
That so in you be joyful hope increas’d,
Thorough the Palace portals, and behold
The dainty and unsating Marriage-Feast.
O, hear
Them singing clear
‘Cor meum et caro mea’round the ‘I am’,
The Husband of the Heavens, and the Lamb
Whom they for ever follow there that kept,
Or, losing, never slept
Till they reconquer’d had in mortal fight
The standard white.
O, hear
From the harps they bore from Earth, five-strung, what music springs,
While the glad Spirits chide
The wondering strings!
And how the shining sacrificial Choirs,
Offering for aye their dearest hearts’ desires,
Which to their hearts come back beatified,
Hymn, the bright aisles along,
The nuptial song,
Song ever new to us and them, that saith,
‘Hail Virgin in Virginity a Spouse!’
Heard first below
Within the little house
At Nazareth;
Heard yet in many a cell where brides of Christ
Lie hid, emparadised,
And where, although
By the hour ’tis night,
There’s light,
The Day still lingering in the lap of snow.
Gaze and be not afraid
Ye wedded few that honour, in sweet thought
And glittering will,
So freshly from the garden gather still
The lily sacrificed;
For ye,though self-suspected here for nought,
Are highly styled
With the thousands twelve times twelve of undefiled.
Gaze and be not afraid
Young Lover true and love-foreboding Maid.
The full Moon of deific vision bright
Abashes nor abates
No spark minute of Nature’s keen delight,
‘Tis there your Hymen waits!
There wher in courts afar, all unconfused, they crowd,
As fumes the starlight soft
In gulfs of cloud,
And each to the other, well-content,
Sighs oft,
”Twas this we meant!’
Gaze without blame
Ye in whom living Love yet blushes for dead shame.
There of pure Virgins none
Is fairer seen,
Save One,
Than Mary Magdalene.
Gaze without doubt or fear
Ye to whom generous Love, by any name, is dear.
Love makes the life to be
A fount perpetual of virginity;
For, lo, the Elect
Of generous Love, how named soe’er, affect
Nothing but God,
Or mediate or direct,
Nothing but God,
The Husband of the Heavens:
And who Him love, in potence great or small
Are, one and all,
Heirs of the Palace glad,
And inly clad
With the bridal robes of ardour virginal.

Song From The Persian

AH, sad are they who know not love,
But, far from passion’s tears and smiles,
Drift down a moonless sea, beyond
The silvery coasts of fairy isles.

And sadder they whose longing lips
Kiss empty air, and never touch
The dear warm mouth of those they love —
Waiting, wasting, suffering much.

But clear as amber, fine as musk,
Is life to those who, pilgrim-wise,
Move hand in hand from dawn to dusk,
Each morning nearer Paradise.

Ah, not for them shall angels pray!
They stand in everlasting light,
They walk in Allah’s smile by day,
And slumber in his heart by night.

Identity

SOMEWHERE–in desolate wind-swept space–
In Twilight-land–in No-man’s land–
Two hurrying Shapes met face to face,
And bade each other stand.

"And who are you?" cried one a-gape,
Shuddering in the gloaming light.
"I know not," said the second Shape,
"I only died last night!"

Invita Minerva

Not of desire alone is music born,
Not till the Muse wills is our passion crowned;
Unsought she comes; if sought, but seldom found,
Repaying thus our longing with her scorn.
Hence is it poets often are forlorn,
In super-subtle chains of silence bound,
And mid the crowds that compass them around
Still dwell in isolation night and morn,
With knitted brow and cheek all passion-pale
Showing the baffled purpose of the mind.
Hence is it I, that find no prayers avail
To move my Lyric mistress to be kind,
Have stolen away into this leafy dale
Drawn by the flutings of the silvery wind.