The apparition of these faces in the crowd;
Petals on a wet, black bough.
The rustling of the silk is discontinued,
Dust drifts over the courtyard,
There is no sound of footfall, and the leaves
Scurry into heaps and lie still,
And she the rejoicer of the heart is beneath them:
A wet leaf that clings to the threshold.
O fan of white silk,
clear as frost on the grass-blade,
You also are laid aside.
The petals fall in the fountain,
the orange coloured rose-leaves,
Their ochre clings to the stone.
Be in me as the eternal moods
of the bleak wind, and not
As transient things are –
gaiety of flowers.
Have me in the strong loneliness
of sunless cliffs
And of grey waters.
Let the gods speak softly of us
In days hereafter,
The shadowy flowers of Orcus
I will get me to the wood
Where the gods walk garlanded in wisteria,
By the silver-blue flood move others with ivory cars.
There come forth many maidens
to gather grapes for the leopards, my friend.
For there are leopards drawing the cars.
I will walk in the glade,
I will come out of the new thicket
and accost the procession of maidens.
I looked and saw a sea
roofed over with rainbows,
In the midst of each
two lovers met and departed;
Then the sky was full of faces
with gold glories behind them.
An image of Lethe, and the fields Full of faint light but golden, Gray cliffs, and beneath them A sea Harsher than granite, unstill, never ceasing; High forms with the movement of gods, Perilous aspect; And one said: "This is Actæon." Actaeon of golden greaves! Over fair meadows, Over the cool face of that field, Unstill, ever moving, Host of an ancient people, The silent cortège.
I hear an army charging upon the land, And the thunder of horses plunging, foam about their knees: Arrogant, in black armour, behind them stand, Disdaining the reins, with fluttering whips, the charioteers. They cry unto the night their battle-name: I moan in sleep when I hear afar their whirling laughter. They cleave the gloom of dreams, a blinding flame, Clanging, clanging upon the heart as upon an anvil. They come shaking in triumph their long, green hair: They come out of the sea and run shouting by the shore. My heart, have you no wisdom thus to despair? My love, my love, my love, why have you left me alone?
London, my beautiful,
it is not the sunset
nor the pale green sky
shimmering through the curtain
of the silver birch,
nor the quietness;
it is not the hopping
upon the lawn,
nor the darkness
stealing over all things
that moves me.
But as the moon creeps slowly
over the tree-tops
among the stars,
I think of her
and the glow her passing
sheds on the men.
London, my beautiful,
I will climb
into the branches
to the moonlit tree-tops,
that my blood may be cooled
by the wind.
I know this room,
and there are corridors:
the pictures, I have seen before;
the statues and those gems in cases
I have wandered by before,—
stood there silent and lonely
in a dream of years ago.
I know the dark of night is all around me;
my eyes are closed, and I am half asleep.
My wife breathes gently at my side.
But once again this old dream is within me,
and I am on the threshold waiting,
wondering, pleased, and fearful.
Where do those doors lead,
what rooms lie beyond them?
But my baby moves and tosses
from side to side,
and her need calls me to her.
Now I stand awake, unseeing,
in the dark,
and I move towards her cot…
I shall not reach her… There is no direction…
I shall walk on…
they cannot be, these people,
eyes that have never seen the world,
bodies that have never lived in air,
lips that have never minted speech,
they are the clipped and garbled,
blocking the highway.
They swarm and eddy
between the banks of glowing shops
towards the red meat,
or surge in
before the swift rush
of the clanging trams,—
pitiful, ugly, mean,
In a wood,
watching the shadow of a bird
leap from frond to frond of bracken,
I am immortal.
The grass is beneath my head;
and I gaze
at the thronging stars
in the night.
They fall… they fall…
I am overwhelmed,
Each leaf of the aspen
is caressed by the wind,
and each is crying.
And the perfume
of invisible roses
deepens the anguish.
Let a strong mesh of roots
feed the crimson of roses
upon my heart;
and then fold over the hollow
where all the pain was.
Under the lily shadow
and the gold
and the blue and mauve
that the whin and the lilac
pour down on the water,
the fishes quiver.
Over the green cold leaves
and the rippled silver
and the tarnished copper
of its neck and beak,
toward the deep black water
beneath the arches,
the swan floats slowly.
Into the dark of the arch the swan floats
and into the black depth of my sorrow
it bears a white rose of flame.
Yesterday the fields were only grey with scattered snow,
And now the longest grass-leaves hardly emerge;
Yet her deep footsteps mark the snow, and go
On towards the pines at the hills’ white verge.
I cannot see her, since the mist’s white scarf
Obscures the dark wood and the dull orange sky;
But she’s waiting, I know, impatient and cold, half
Sobs struggling into her frosty sigh.
Why does she come so promptly, when she must know
That she’s only the nearer to the inevitable farewell;
The hill is steep, on the snow my steps are slow –
Why does she come, when she knows what I have to tell?
When the bare feet of the baby beat across the grass
The little white feet nod like white flowers in the wind,
They poise and run like ripples lapping across the water;
And the sight of their white play among the grass
Is like a little robin’s song, winsome,
Or as two white butterflies settle in the cup of one flower
For a moment, then away with a flutter of wings.
I long for the baby to wander hither to me
Like a wind-shadow wandering over the water,
So that she can stand on my knee
With her little bare feet in my hands,
Cool like syringa buds,
Firm and silken like pink young peony flowers.
Ah, my darling, when over the purple horizon shall loom
The shrouded mother of a new idea, men hide their faces,
Cry out and fend her off, as she seeks her procreant groom,
Wounding themselves against her, denying her fecund embraces.
A wind comes from the north
Blowing little flocks of birds
Like spray across the town,
And a train, roaring forth,
Rushes stampeding down
With cries and flying curds
Of steam, out of the darkening north.
Whither I turn and set
Like a needle steadfastly,
Waiting ever to get
The news that she is free;
But ever fixed, as yet,
To the lode of her agony.
As a drenched, drowned bee
Hangs numb and heavy from a bending flower,
So clings to me
My baby, her brown hair brushed with wet tears
And laid against her cheek;
Her soft white legs hanging heavily over my arm,
Swinging heavily to my movement as I walk.
My sleeping baby hangs upon my life,
Like a burden she hangs on me.
She has always seemed so light,
But now she is wet with tears and numb with pain
Even her floating hair sinks heavily,
As the wings of a drenched, drowned bee
Are a heaviness, and a weariness.
The hoar-frost crumbles in the sun,
The crisping steam of a train
Melts in the air, while two black birds
Sweep past the window again.
Along the vacant road, a red
Bicycle approaches; I wait
In a thaw of anxiety, for the boy
To leap down at our gate.
He has passed us by; but is it
Relief that starts in my breast?
Or a deeper bruise of knowing that still
She has no rest.
A yellow leaf from the darkness
Hops like a frog before me.
Why should I start and stand still?
I was watching the woman that bore me
Stretched in the brindled darkness
Of the sick-room, rigid with will
To die: and the quick leaf tore me
Back to this rainy swill
Of leaves and lamps and traffic mingled before me.
When night drifts along the streets of the city,
And sifts down between the uneven roofs,
My mind begins to peek and peer.
It plays at ball in odd, blue Chinese gardens,
And shakes wrought dice-cups in Pagan temples
Amid the broken flutings of white pillars.
It dances with purple and yellow crocuses in its hair,
And its feet shine as they flutter over drenched grasses.
How light and laughing my mind is,
When all the good folk have put out their bedroom candles,
And the city is still.
You are beautiful and faded,
Like an old opera tune
Played upon a harpsichord;
Or like the sun-flooded silks
Of an eighteenth-century boudoir. In your eyes
Smoulder the fallen roses of outlived minutes,
And the perfume of your soul
Is vague and suffusing,
With the pungence of sealed spice-jars.
Your half-tones delight me,
And I grow mad with gazing
At your blent colors.
My vigor is a new-minted penny,
Which I cast at your feet.
Gather it up from the dust
That its sparkle may amuse you.
I cut myself upon the thought of you
And yet I come back to it again and again,
A kind of fury makes me want to draw you out
From the dimness of the present
And set you sharply above me in a wheel of roses.
Then, going obviously to inhale their fragrance,
I touch the blade of you and cling upon it,
And only when the blood runs out across my fingers
Am I at all satisfied.
When there was a clear moon,
I sat down
To write a poem
About maple trees.
But the dazzle of moonlight
In the ink
And I could only write
What I remembered.
Therefore, on the wrapping of my poem
I have inscribed your name.
I came from the country
Larkspur and roses,
In their leaves,
And long, cool lavender.
I carried them
From house to house,
And cried them
Down hot streets.
The sun fell
Upon my flowers,
And the dust of the streets
Blew over my basket.
I slept upon the open seats
Of a circus,
Where all day long
People had watched
Of a painted clown.
Blue through the window burns the twilight;
Heavy, through trees, blows the warm south wind.
Glistening, against the chill, gray sky light,
Wet, black branches are barred and entwined.
Sodden and spongy, the scarce-green grass plot
Dents into pools where a foot has been.
Puddles lie spilt in the road a mass, not
Of water, but steel, with its cold, hard sheen.
Faint fades the fire on the hearth, its embers
Scattering wide at a stronger gust.
Above, the old weathercock groans, but remembers
Creaking, to turn, in its centuried rust.
Dying, forlorn, in dreary sorrow,
Wrapping the mists round her withering form,
Day sinks down; and in darkness to-morrow
Travails to birth in the womb of the storm.
In the cloud-grey mornings
I heard the herons flying;
And when I came into my garden,
My silken outer-garment
Trailed over withered leaves.
A dried leaf crumbles at a touch,
But I have seen many Autumns
With herons blowing like smoke
Across the sky.
You are ice and fire, The touch of you burns my hands like snow. You are cold and flame. You are the crimson of amaryllis, The silver of moon-touched magnolias. When I am with you, My heart is a frozen pond Gleaming with agitated torches.
I have painted a picture of a ghost Upon my kite, And hung it on a tree. Later, when I loose the string And let it fly, The people will cower And hide their heads, For fear of the God Swimming in the clouds.
If I could catch the green lantern of the firefly I could see to write you a letter.
They have watered the street, It shines in the glare of lamps, Cold, white lamps, And lies Like a slow-moving river, Barred with silver and black. Cabs go down it, One, And then another, Between them I hear the shuffling of feet. Tramps doze on the window-ledges, Night-walkers pass along the sidewalks. The city is squalid and sinister, With the silver-barred street in the midst, Slow-moving, A river leading nowhere. Opposite my window, The moon cuts, Clear and round, Through the plum-coloured night. She cannot light the city: It is too bright. It has white lamps, And glitters coldly. I stand in the window and watch the moon. She is thin and lustreless, But I love her. I know the moon, And this is an alien city.
What is poetry? Is it a mosaic
Of coloured stones which curiously are wrought
Into a pattern? Rather glass that's taught
By patient labor any hue to take
And glowing with a sumptuous splendor, make
Beauty a thing of awe; where sunbeams caught,
Transmuted fall in sheafs of rainbows fraught
With storied meaning for religion's sake.
is that beautiful old parchment
in which the sun
and the moon
keep their diary.
To read it all,
one must be a linguist
more learned than Father Wisdom;
and a visionary
more clairvoyant than Mother Dream.
But to feel it,
one must be an apostle:
one who is more than intimate
in having been, always,
the only confidant –
like the earth
or the sea.
Why do you play
that long beautiful adagio,
that archaic air,
Will it never end?
Or is it the beginning,
some prelude you seek?
Is it a tale you strum?
Have you no more for us?
There is nor hope
The pantaloons are dancing,
dancing, through the night,
pure white pantaloons,
underneath the moon,
on a jolly wash line,
skipping from my room,
over to Miranda,
who washed them this noon.
Our door was shut to the noon-day heat. We could not see him. We might not have heard him either— Resting, dozing, dreaming pleasantly. But his step was tremendous— Are mountains on the march? He was no man who passed; But a great faithful horse Dragging a load Up the hill.
Under a wall of bronze,
Where beeches dip and trail
Their branches in the water;
With red-tipped head and wings—
A beaked ship under sail—
There glides a single swan.
Under the autumn trees
He goes. The branches quiver,
Dance in the wraith-like water,
Which ripples beneath the sedge
With the slackening furrow that glides
In his wake when he is gone:
The beeches bow dark heads.
Into the windless dusk,
Where in mist great towers stand
Guarding a lonely strand,
That is bodiless and dim,
He speeds with easy stride;
And I would go beside,
Till the low brown hills divide
At last, for me and him.
Black swallows swooping or gliding
In a flurry of entangled loops and curves;
The skaters skim over the frozen river.
And the grinding click of their skates as they impinge upon the surface,
Is like the brushing together of thin wing-tips of silver.
Above the east horizon,
The great red flower of the dawn
Opens slowly, petal by petal;
The trees emerge from darkness
With ghostly silver leaves,
Now consciousness emerges
Reluctantly out of tides of sleep;
Finding with cold surprise
No strange new thing to match its dreams,
But merely the familiar shapes
Of bedpost, window-pane, and wall.
Within the city,
The streets which were the last to fall to sleep,
Hold yet stale fragments of the night.
Sleep oozes out of stagnant ash-barrels,
Sleep drowses over litter in the streets.
Sleep nods upon the milkcans by back doors.
And, in shut rooms,
Behind the lowered window-blinds,
Drawn white faces unwittingly flout the day.
But, at the edges of the city,
Sleep is already washed away;
Light filters through the moist green leaves,
It runs into the cups of flowers,
It leaps in sparks through drops of dew,
It whirls against the window-panes
With waking birds;
Blinds are rolled up and chimneys smoke,
Feet clatter past in silent paths,
And down white vanishing ways of steel,
A dozen railway trains converge
Upon night’s stronghold.
Lighthearted I walked into the valley wood
In the time of hyacinths,
Till beauty like a scented cloth
Cast over, stifled me. I was bound
Motionless and faint of breath
By loveliness that is her own eunuch.
Now pass I to the final river
Ignominiously, in a sack, without sound,
As any peeping Turk to the Bosphorus.
Above the quiet dock in mid night,
Tangled in the tall mast’s corded height,
Hangs the moon. What seemed so far away
Is but a child’s balloon, forgotten after play.
(The fantasia of a fallen gentleman on a cold, bitter night.)
Once, in finesse of fiddles found I ecstasy,
In the flash of gold heels on the hard pavement.
Now see I
That warmth’s the very stuff of poesy.
Oh, God, make small
The old star-eaten blanket of the sky,
That I may fold it round me and in comfort lie.
Beauty is the marking-time, the stationary vibration, the feigned ecstasy of an arrested impulse unable to reach its natural end.
Mana Aboda, whose bent form
The sky in archèd circle is,
Seems ever for an unknown grief to mourn.
Yet on a day I heard her cry:
'I weary of the roses and the singing poets—
Josephs all, not tall enough to try.'
root tangled in sand,
sea-iris, brittle flower,
one petal like a shell
and you print a shadow
like a thin twig.
scented and stinging,
sweet and salt—you are wind
in our nostrils.
Do the murex-fishers
drench you as they pass?
Do your roots drag up colour
from the sand?
Have they slipped gold under you—
rivets of gold?
Band of iris-flowers
above the waves,
you are painted blue,
painted like a fresh prow
stained among the salt weeds.
The night has cut
each from each
and curled the petals
back from the stalk
and under it in crisp rows;
under at an unfaltering pace,
under till the rinds break,
back till each bent leaf
is parted from its stalk;
under at a grave pace,
under till the leaves
are bent back
till they drop upon earth,
back till they are all broken.
you take the petals
of the roses in your hand,
but leave the stark core
of the rose
to perish on the branch.
You are clear
O rose, cut in rock,
hard as the descent of hail.
I could scrape the colour
from the petals
like spilt dye from a rock.
If I could break you
I could break a tree.
If I could stir
I could break a tree—
I could break you.
O wind, rend open the heat,
cut apart the heat,
rend it to tatters.
Fruit cannot drop
through this thick air—
fruit cannot fall into heat
that presses up and blunts
the points of pears
and rounds the grapes.
Cut the heat—
plough through it,
turning it on either side
of your path.
You crash over the trees,
you crack the live branch—
the branch is white,
the green crushed,
each leaf is rent like split wood.
You burden the trees
with black drops,
you swirl and crash—
you have broken off a weighted leaf
in the wind,
it is hurled out,
whirls up and sinks,
a green stone.
On the paved parapet
you will step carefully
from amber stones to onyx
flecked with violet,
mingled with light,
half showing the sea-grass
and sea-sand underneath,
reflecting your white feet
and the gay strap crimson
as lily-buds of Arion,
and the gold that binds your feet.
You will pass
beneath the island disk
the carved support of it)
and the white stretch
of its white beach,
curved as the moon crescent
or ivory when some fine hand
when the sun slips
through the far edge,
there is rare amber
through the sea,
and flecks of it
glitter on the dolphin's back
and jewelled halter
and harness and bit
as he sways under it.
slashed and torn
but doubly rich—
such great heads as yours
drift upon temple-steps,
but you are shattered
in the wind.
is flecked from you,
scales are dashed
from your stem,
sand cuts your petal,
furrows it with hard edge,
on a bright stone.
Yet though the whole wind
slash at your bark,
you are lifted up,
aye—though it hiss
to cover you with froth.
The white violet
is scented on its stalk,
fragile as agate,
lies fronting all the wind
among the torn shells
on the sand-bank.
The greater blue violets
flutter on the hill,
but who would change for these
who would change for these
one root of the white sort?
your grasp is frail
on the edge of the sand-hill,
but you catch the light—
frost, a star edges with its fire.
fluted with gold,
fruit on the sand
marked with a rich grain,
spilled near the shrub-pines
to bleach on the boulders:
your stalk has caught root
among wet pebbles
and drift flung by the sea
and grated shells
and split conch-shells.
fire upon leaf,
what meadow yields
so fragrant a leaf
as your bright leaf?
The light passes
from ridge to ridge,
from flower to flower—
the hepaticas, wide-spread
under the light
the petals reach inward,
the blue tips bend
toward the bluer heart
and the flowers are lost.
The cornel-buds are still white,
but shadows dart
from the cornel-roots—
black creeps from root to root,
cuts another leaf on the grass,
shadow seeks shadow,
then both leaf
and leaf-shadow are lost.
Whirl up, sea— Whirl your pointed pines. Splash your great pines On our rocks. Hurl your green over us— Cover us with your pools of fir.