Oh, were I turned all suddenly
into a star,
in the cool wilderness of space
to dwell afar;
or should they make of my body moondust,
and scatter me about the silent roads
of the world, at night;
or burn me in flame until I was but smoke
upon the air …
still should my shadowy heart tremble a little,
at the words your voice spake, crying as of old
in the dark to me.
I dreamed that I had died,
and you were not born yet,
and so, I going, you coming,
along the shades we met.
We stood and spoke a moment
of the broad earth's delight;
then parted, you to the shadows,
I to the endless night.
All night she's been
love-making in the shades
with twilight men
who walk in Lethe's glades.
She has been happy there
with the amorous dead,
they have found her eyes still fair,
and her lips still red.
All night she's lain
by Lethe's dusky streams:
Arise, O dawn!
and tumble down her dreams.
For now the sun
steals past her waking eaves,
slumber is done,
the dawn-wind shakes the leaves,
and I have an earthly love
more sweet to tell
than the tales the sly tongues wove
in the glades of Hell.
Lovelier are her words
than the exquisite notes
that speak the souls of flutes.
The songs of birds
at dusk, when the first-born star
swims in the willow tree,
are not more dear to me
than her songs are.
When she speaks, all sound begins
to tremble, and melt
in music rarer than the lilt
Her voice is more delicate
than the croon of wind in the coppice;
all the world's songs are poppies
under her feet.
My soul it is but gossamer
hung on an apple-tree,
and never a wind of heaven doth stir
but it shakes the heart of me.
And oh, my life is a gossamer
hung on the tree of her heart,
and never a sigh in her breast doth stir
but my soul is rent apart.
Since that Zenophila is common dust
and Meleager sings to her no more,
ring me love's bell, before his tongue is rust,
O goddess of the Cytherean shore.
Love, and the roses on his forehead, drip
petal by petal into oblivion;
raise then love's chalice to my parched lip,
and let me for a little while dream on.
Turn your face to mine,
let me look in your eyes
before love fades with the green
days, in the silences.
All summer love has been
your voice, and your hair that shone,
and the peace of your lips on mine.
But these are gone,
and loving is at an end,
is less than nothingness,
is quieter than the wind
in the dead grass.
And we are left alone
to go our separate ways…
Oh, your lips, and your hair that shone,
and the peace in your eyes!
O heart, be not dismayed
that fair should prove so brittle:
love, as the summers fade,
must droop a little.
Time grays the golden locks,
even the loveliest things
with the chiming of his clocks
fail like forgotten springs.
O love, have no regrets
that the rose should fade, and the bay:
there's quiet, where the heart forgets
in the end, they say;
where earth's harsh storms are dumb,
and the skies no longer weep,
and the leaves and the flowers come
and lie in their olden sleep.
As springs well forth
in rock-girt lands,
laving the sands
and the parched earth,
or even as a bright
vision in slumber
lightens the sombre
shadows of the night,
rise ghosts of the gone
and lovely day
when love came our way
and led us on.
If flowers grew in the sky,
and I were seven,
I think I'd like to die,
and walk in Heaven.
For man, until he sighs
for love of woman,
is denizen of skies
and nothing human.
But since I'm prisoned, shut,
I'd rather bed the slut
The night we lay together
upon a moonlit hill,
the boisterous god of weather
was reverently still.
The little breeze that nightly
guards lovers' hearts till dawn
seems sometimes, most politely,
to hide a gentle yawn.
But now that love lies bleeding,
soon gloriously to die,
the winds, with perfect breeding,
most exquisitely sigh.
There is grave beauty here
in this orchard-valley
where no storms sully
the rich purple gloom where the lilies are.
And there is quietness here
now, as of old,
where great trees fold
their dark limbs round the coolness of the air.
The pearls of the sky still gleam
through the branches of the trees,
and the little wandering breeze
that ruffles the feathers of the grass is still the same.
Yet there is loneliness
more stark than I have known
as I stray alone
through the dim grass…
O blue-grey dusk, where have you hidden my lover?
—she who would steal softly to this place
unbidden, in other days,
and lie in my arms in the haven of the clover.
Now there is left to me nothing
but frail lilies of evening, and her face
is only a shadow in the gloom of this place,
and a memory of her bosom pressed against mine, soft-breathing.
On the hill the night is cool and sweet;
the grass is soft as a woman's hair;
but I hear no more, no more the beat
of wings through the silver air.
We stood by the bridge. The willow-tree
trailed listless fingers in the brook.
The moonlight curdled. Nothing to me
her tears, and her faery look.
Strange how sluggish and stale my blood
now: but the end of the meteor's flash
is a cold stone stuck in the earth's dank mud:
and the end of the fire is ash.
On the hill the night is sweet and cool
and the grass is soft as a woman's breast.
Well, it's little to reck if a man's a fool,
he still may take his rest.
I may not love you: love's cool arms
are made for cowards who in fear
cry for a haven: I have charms
other than this against despair.
But this I know: that man grows old
in a little time, and like a flower
his courage withers: so would I hold
some thoughts of you against that hour.
And in the lonely waste of years,
in witless age, and creeping folly,
I shall remember, girl, those stars
you lit for me, and call them holy.
I had been down in the lovers' hell
watching the faces of the damned,
laughing to hear those poor fools tell
of young love mocked at, passion shamed.
But now at last I am caught in the web
of my own scorn, like a silly spider,
and nevermore shall I be so glib
with talk of love and the fools who chide her.
My love is too strong for my heart to hold:
not Antony's great breast might cage it,
this fiery essence, shape its mould,
nor Balkis nor Helena assuage it.
But only you, if that you deem
a beggar's love worth nibbling at,
might fill one cranny of my dream,
share one small rood of my estate.
I am a seeker: how then should I love you?
Finding my treasure, how should I seek again,
whose treasure lies in seeking, not in finding?
I'll leave the sweets of love to other men.
But I have need of some sure talisman,
some luck-piece that, worn like a soldier's bible
over the heart, may turn a casual bullet
and guard the flesh, but leave the soul a rebel.
Therefore I say your spirit shall be mine,
my fair sweet prisoner till this world shall fade,
and over all its pomp, its brittle glory,
a handful of ironic dust be laid.
All our days are dead,
love lies burnt,
the last word is read,
the last lesson learnt.
Hopes have been banished
dreams all have vanished;
it came not as we willed.
There is left no song now
that is worth the singing;
there is left no thing now
worth the doing.
Turn where we may,
despair lies deep;
let us end this day,
come, let us sleep.