It was easy enough to bend them to my wish, it was easy enough to alter them with a touch, but you adrift on the great sea, how shall I call you back? Cedar and white ash, rock-cedar and sand plants and tamarisk red cedar and white cedar and black cedar from the inmost forest, fragrance upon fragrance and all of my sea-magic is for nought. It was easy enough— a thought called them from the sharp edges of the earth; they prayed for a touch, they cried for the sight of my face, they entreated me till in pity I turned each to his own self. Panther and panther, then a black leopard follows close— black panther and red and a great hound, a god-like beast, cut the sand in a clear ring and shut me from the earth, and cover the sea-sound with their throats, and the sea-roar with their own barks and bellowing and snarls, and the sea-stars and the swirl of the sand, and the rock-tamarisk and the wind resonance— but not your voice. It is easy enough to call men from the edges of the earth. It is easy enough to summon them to my feet with a thought— it is beautiful to see the tall panther and the sleek deer-hounds circle in the dark. It is easy enough to make cedar and white ash fumes into palaces and to cover the sea-caves with ivory and onyx. But I would give up rock-fringes of coral and the inmost chamber of my island palace and my own gifts and the whole region of my power and magic for your glance.
This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on March 3, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.
About this Poem
“Circe” was published in Hymen (Henry Holt and Company, 1921).
Born in 1886, Hilda Doolittle was one of the leaders of the Imagist movement. She published numerous poetry collections, including Sea Garden (Constable and Company, 1916) and Helen in Egypt (Grove Press, 1961). She died in 1961.
Date Published: 1921-01-01
Source URL: https://poets.org/poem/circe-0