Prayer

H. D. - 1886-1961
White, O white face—
from disenchanted days 
wither alike dark rose 
and fiery bays: 
no gift within our hands,
nor strength to praise, 
only defeat and silence; 
though we lift hands, disenchanted, 
of small strength, nor raise 
branch of the laurel 
or the light of torch, 
but fold the garment 
on the riven locks, 
yet hear, all-merciful, and touch 
the fore-head, dim, unlit of pride and thought,
Mistress–be near!
Give back the glamour to our will, 
the thought; give back the tool, 
the chisel; once we wrought 
things not unworthy, 
sandal and steel-clasp; 
silver and steel, the coat 
with white leaf-pattern 
at the arm and throat: 
silver and metal, hammered for the ridge 
of shield and helmet-rim; 
white silver with the darker hammered in, 
belt, staff and magic spear-shaft 
with the gilt spark at the point and hilt.

More by H. D.

Stars Wheel in Purple

Stars wheel in purple, yours is not so rare
as Hesperus, nor yet so great a star
as bright Aldeboran or Sirius,
nor yet the stained and brilliant one of War;

stars turn in purple, glorious to the sight;
yours is not gracious as the Pleiads are
nor as Orion's sapphires, luminous;

yet disenchanted, cold, imperious face,
when all the others blighted, reel and fall,
your star, steel-set, keeps lone and frigid tryst
to freighted ships, baffled in wind and blast.

Helen

All Greece hates
the still eyes in the white face,
the lustre as of olives
where she stands,
and the white hands.

All Greece reviles
the wan face when she smiles,
hating it deeper still
when it grows wan and white,
remembering past enchantments
and past ills.

Greece sees, unmoved,
God's daughter, born of love,
the beauty of cool feet
and slenderest knees,
could love indeed the maid,
only if she were laid,
white ash amid funereal cypresses.

At Baia

I should have thought
in a dream you would have brought
some lovely, perilous thing,
orchids piled in a great sheath,
as who would say (in a dream),
"I send you this,
who left the blue veins
of your throat unkissed."

Why was it that your hands
(that never took mine),
your hands that I could see
drift over the orchid-heads
so carefully,
your hands, so fragile, sure to lift
so gently, the fragile flower-stuff--
ah, ah, how was it

You never sent (in a dream)
the very form, the very scent,
not heavy, not sensuous,
but perilous--perilous--
of orchids, piled in a great sheath,
and folded underneath on a bright scroll,
some word:

"Flower sent to flower;
for white hands, the lesser white,
less lovely of flower-leaf,"

or

"Lover to lover, no kiss,
no touch, but forever and ever this."