Of Adam’s first wife, Lilith, it is told
('The witch he loved before the gift of Eve,)
That, ere the snake’s, her sweet tongue could deceive,
And her enchanted hair was the first gold.
And still she sits, young while the earth is old,
And, subtly of herself contemplative,
Draws men to watch the bright web she can weave,
Till heart and body and life are in its hold.
The rose and poppy are her flowers; for where
Is he not found, O Lilith, whom shed scent
And soft—shed kisses and soft sleep shall snare?
Lo! as that youth’s eyes burned at thine, so went
Thy spell through him, and left his straight neck bent
And round his heart one strangling golden hair.
Is Memory most of miseries miserable,
Or the one flower of ease in bitterest hell?
Sometimes she is a child within mine arms,
Cowering beneath dark wings that love must chase,—
With still tears showering and averted face,
Inexplicably fill’d with faint alarms:
And oft from mine own spirit’s hurtling harms
I crave the refuge of her deep embrace,—
Against all ills the fortified strong place
And sweet reserve of sovereign counter—charms.
And Love, our light at night and shade at noon,
Lulls us to rest with songs, and turns away
All shafts of shelterless tumultuous day.
Like the moon’s growth, his face gleams through his tune;
And as soft waters warble to the moon,
Our answering spirits chime one roundelay.
THE hop—shop is shut up: the night doth wear.
Here, early, Collinson this evening fell
“Into the gulfs of sleep”; and Deverell
Has turned upon the pivot of his chair
The whole of this night long; and Hancock there
Has laboured to repeat, in accents screechy,
“Guardami ben, ben son, ben son Beatrice”;
And Bernhard Smith still beamed, serene and square.
By eight, the coffee was all drunk. At nine
We gave the cat some milk. Our talk did shelve,
Ere ten, to gasps and stupor. Helpless grief
Made, towards eleven, my inmost spirit pine,
Knowing North’s hour. And Hancock, hard on twelve,
Showed an engraving of his bas——relief.
Thou lovely and beloved, thou my love;
Whose kiss seems still the first; whose summoning eyes,
Even now, as for our love—world’s new sunrise,
Shed very dawn; whose voice, attuned above
All modulation of the deep—bowered dove,
Is like a hand laid softly on the soul;
Whose hand is like a sweet voice to control
Those worn tired brows it hath the keeping of:—
What word can answer to thy word,—what gaze
To thine, which now absorbs within its sphere
My worshipping face, till I am mirrored there
Light—circled in a heaven of deep—drawn rays?
What clasp, what kiss mine inmost heart can prove,
O lovely and beloved, O my love?
The wind flapped loose, the wind was still,
Shaken out dead from tree and hill:
I had walk’d on at the wind’s will,—
I sat now, for the wind was still.
Between my knees my forehead was,—
My lips, drawn in, said not Alas!
My hair was over in the grass,
My naked ears heard the day pass.
My eyes, wide open, had the run
Of some ten weeds to fix upon;
Among those few, out of the sun,
The woodspurge flower’d, three cups in one.
From perfect grief there need not be
Wisdom or even memory:
One thing learnt remains to me,—
The woodspurge has a cup of three.
ALONG the grass sweet airs are blown
Our way this day in Spring.
Of all the songs that we have known
Now which one shall we sing?
Not that, my love, ah no!—
Not this, my love? why, so!—
Yet both were ours, but hours will come and go.
The grove is all a pale frail mist,
The new year sucks the sun.
Of all the kisses that we kissed
Now which shall be the one?
Not that my love, ah no!—
Not this, my love?—heigh—ho
For all the sweets that all the winds can blow!
The branches cross above our eyes,
The skies are in a net:
And what’s the thing beneath the skies
We two would most forget?
Not birth, my love, no, no,—
Not death, my love, no, no,—
The love once ours, but ours long hours ago.
What other woman could be loved like you,
Or how of you should love possess his fill?
After the fulness of all rapture, still,—
As at the end of some deep avenue
A tender glamour of day,—there comes to view
Far in your eyes a yet more hungering thrill,—
Such fire as Love’s soul—winnowing hands distil
Even from his inmost ark of light and dew.
And as the traveller triumphs with the sun,
Glorying in heat’s mid—height, yet startide brings
Wonder new—born, and still fresh transport springs
From limpid lambent hours of day begun;—
Even so, through eyes and voice, your soul doth move
My soul with changeful light of infinite love.
Upon a Flemish road, when noon was deep,
I passed a little consecrated shrine,
Where, among simple pictures ranged in line,
The blessed Mary holds her child asleep.
To kneel here, shepherd—maidens leave their sheep
When they feel grave because of the sunshine,
And again kneel here in the day’s decline;
And here, when their life ails them, come to weep.
Night being full, I passed on the same road
By the same shrine; within, a lamp was lit
Which through the silence of clear darkness glowed.
Thus, when life’s heat is past and doubts arise
Darkling, the lamp of Faith must strengthen it,
Which sometimes will not light and sometimes dies.
IN a soft—complexioned sky,
Fleeting rose and kindling grey,
Have you seen Aurora fly
At the break of day?
So my maiden, so my plighted may
Blushing cheek and gleaming eye
Lifts to look my way.
Where the inmost leaf is stirred
With the heart—beat of the grove,
Have you heard a hidden bird
Cast her note above?
So my lady, so my lovely love,
Echoing Cupid’s prompted word,
Makes a tune thereof.
Have you seen, at heaven’s mid—height,
In the moon—rack’s ebb and tide,
Venus leap forth burning white,
Dian pale and hide?
So my bright breast—jewel, so my bride,
One sweet night, when fear takes flight,
Shall leap against my side.
Under the arch of Life, where love and death,
Terror and mystery, guard her shrine, I saw
Beauty enthroned; and though her gaze struck awe,
I drew it in as simply as my breath.
Hers are the eyes which, over and beneath,
The sky and sea bend on thee,—which can draw,
By sea or sky or woman, to one law,
The allotted bondman of her palm and wreath.
This is that Lady Beauty, in whose praise
Thy voice and hand shake still, —long known to thee
By flying hair and fluttering hem, —the beat
Following her daily of thy heart and feet,
How passionately and irretrievably,
In what fond flight, how many ways and days!
(In the Academy of Bruges)
MYSTERY: God, man’s life, born into man
Of woman. There abideth on her brow
The ended pang of knowledge, the which now
Is calm assured. Since first her task began
She hath known all. What more of anguish than
Endurance oft hath lived through, the whole space
Through night till day, passed weak upon her face
While the heard lapse of darkness slowly ran?
All hath been told her touching her dear Son,
And all shall be accomplished. Where He sits
Even now, a babe, He holds the symbol fruit
Perfect and chosen. Until God permits,
His soul’s elect still have the absolute
Harsh nether darkness, and make painful moan.