Saturday, March 11, 2006

Preludes for Memnon

I


Winter for a moment takes the mind; the snow
Falls past the arclight; icicles guard a wall;
The wind moans through a crack in the window;
A keen sparkle of frost is on the sill.
Only for a moment; as spring too might engage it,
With a single crocus in the loam, or a pair of birds;
Or summer with hot grass; or autumn with a yellow leaf.
Winter is there, outside, is here in me:
Drapes the planets with snow, deepens the ice on the moon,
Darkens the darkness that was already darkness.
The mind too has its snows, its slippery paths,
Wall bayonetted with ice, leave ice-encased.
Here is the in-drawn room, to which you return
When the wind blows from Arcturus: here is the fire
At which your warm your hands and glaze your eyes:
The piano, on which you touch the cold treble;
Five notes like breathing icicles; and then silence.


The alarm- clock ticks, the pulse keeps time with it,
Night and the mind are full of sounds. I walk
from the fire-place, with his imaginary fire,
To the window, with its imaginary view.
Darkness, and snow ticking the window: silence,
And the knocking of chains on a motor-car, the tolling
Of a bronze bell, dedicated to Christ.
And then the uprush of angelic wings, the beating
Of wings demonic, from the abyss of the mind:
The darkness filled with a feathery whistling, wings
Numberless as the flakes of angelic snow,
The deep void swarming with wings and sound of wings,
The winnowing of chaos, the aliveness
Of depth and depth and depth dedicated to death.



Here are the bickerings of the inconsequential,
The chatterings of the ridiculous, the iterations
Of the meaningless. Memory, like a juggler,
Tosses its colored ball into the light, and again
Receives them into darkness. Here is the absurd,
Grinning like an idiot, and the omnivorous quotidian,
Which will have its day. A handful of coins,
Tickets, items for the news, a soiled handkerchief,
A letter to be answered, notice of a telephone call,
the petal of a flower in a volume of Shakspere,
The program of a concert. The photograph, too,
Propped on the mantel, and beneath it a dry rosebud;
The laundry bil, matches, an ash-tray, Utamaro's
Pearl-fishers. And the rug, on which are still the crumbs
Of yesterday's feast. These are the void, the night,
And the angelic wings that make it sound.

What is the flower? It is not a sigh of color,
Suspiration of purple, sibilation of saffron,
Nor aureate exhalation from the tomb.
Yet it is these because you think of these,
An emanation of emanation, fragile
As light, or glisten, or gleam, or coruscation,
Creature of brightness, and as brightness brief.
What is the frost? It is not the sparkle of death,
The flash ot time's wing, seeds of eternity;
Yet it is these because you think of these.
And you, because you think of these, are both
Frost and flower, the bright ambiguous syllable
Of which the meaning is both no and yes.

Here is the tragic, the distorting mirror
In which you gesture becomes grandiose;
Tears form and fall from your magnificent eyes,
The brow is noble, and the mouth of God's.
Here is God who seeks his mother, Chaos,-
Confusion seeking solution, and life seeking death.
Here is the rose that woos the icicle; the icicle
That woos the rose. Here is the silence of silences
Which dreams of becoming a sound, and the sound
Which will perfect itself in silence. And all
These things are only the uprush from the void,
the wings angelic and demonic, the sound of the abyss
Dedicated to death. And this is you.



II


Two coffees in the Español, the last
Bright drops of golden Barsac in a goblet,
Fig paste and candied nuts...Hardy is dead,
And James and Conrad dead, and Shakspere dead,
And old Moore ripens for an obscene grave,
And Yeats for an arid one; and I, and you-
What winding sheet for us, what boards and bricks,
What mummeries, candles, prayers, and pious frauds?
You shall be lapped in Syrian scarlet woman,
And wear your pearls, and your bright bracelets, too,
Your agate ring, and round your neck shall hang
Your dark blue lapis with its specks of gold.
And I, beside you-ah! but will that be?
For there are dark streams in this dark world, lady,
Gulf Streams and Artic currents of the soul;
And I may be, before our consummation
Bed us in together, cheek by jowl, in earth,
Swept to another shore, where my white bones
Will lie unhonored, or defiled by gulls.


What dignity can death bestow on us,
Who kiss beneath a streetlamp, or hold hands
Half hidden in a taxi, or replete
With coffee, figs and Barsac make our way
To a dark bedroom in a wormworn house?
The aspidistra guards the door; we enter,
Per aspidistra-then-ad astra-is it?-
And lock ourselves securely in our gloom
And loose ourselves from terror...Here´s my hand,
The white scar on my thumb, and here's my mouth
To stop your murmur; speechless let us lie,
And think of Hardy, Shakspere, Yeats and James;
Comfort our panic hearts with magic names;
Stare at the ceiling, where the taxi lamps
Make ghots of light; and see, beyond this bed,
That other bed in which we will not move;
And, whether joined or separate, will not love.




III


Sleep: and between the closed eyelids of sleep,
From the dark spirit's still unresting grief,
The one tear burns its way. O God, O God,
What monstrous world is this, whence no escape
Even in sleep? Between the fast-shut lids
This one tear comes, hangs on the lashes, falls:
Symbol of some gigantic dream, that shakes
The secret-sleeping soul.... And I descend
By a green cliff that fronts the worldlong sea;
Disastrous shore: where bones of ships and rocks
Are mixed; and beating waves bring in the sails
Of unskilled mariners, ill starred. The gulls
Fall in a cloud upon foul flotsam there;
The air resounds with cries of scavengers.

Dream: and between the close-locked lids of dream
The terrible infinite intrudes its blue:
Ice: silence: death: the abyss of Nothing.
O God, O God, let the sore soul have peace.
Deliver it from this bondage of harsh dreams.
Release this shadow from its object, this object
From its shadow. Let the fleet soul go nimbly,-
Down,-down,- from step to step of dark,-
From dark to deeper dark, from dark to rest,-
And let no Theseus--thread of memory
Shine in that labyrinth, or on those stairs,
To guide her back; nor bring her, where she lies,
Remembrance of a torn world well forgot.



IV


Or say that in the middle comes a music
Suddenly out of silence, and delight
Brings all that chaos to one mood of wonder;
A seed of fire, fallen in a tinder world;
And instantly the whirling darkness fills
With conflagration; upspoutings of delirium;
Cracklings and seethings; the melting rocks, the bursts
Of flame smoke-stifled, twisting, smoke-inwreathed;
Magnificence; the whole dark filled with light;
And then silence, as the world falls back
Consumed, devoured, its giant corolla shrivelled;
And in the waning light, the pistil glowing,
Glowing and fading; and on that shrinking stage-


Whisper it, how among the whispering ashes
Her pale bright beauty comes, the moon's dark laughter,
Lighting those ruins with her radiant madness;
How swiftly glides, and stoops, with that light steps
Touches the dead face of that desert, comes
Nearer, bending her face, her divine eyes
Bright with the brightness of the ineffable;
Seeking, and finding not; smiling at nothing,
Blessing the emptiness; her angelic face
Hopeful at first, then hopeless, and at last
Weeping; so standing, while her slow tears fall;
And the long silence begins, the silence that was
And is and will be; creeps round her; rise coldly;
And all is still; the world, her hope, and she.



V


Despair, that seeking for the ding-an-sich,
The feeling itself, the round bright dark emotion,
The color, the light, the depth, the feathery swiftness
Of you and the thought of you, I fall and fall
From precipice word to chasm word, and shatter
Heart, brain, and spirit on the maddening fact:
If poetry say it, it must speak with a symbol.

What is a symbol? It is the "man stoops sharp
To clutch a paper that blows in the wind";
It is the "bed of crocuses bending in the wind," the
Light, that "breaks on the water with waves," the
Wings that "achieve in the gust the unexpected."
These, and less than these, and more than these.
The thought, the ghost of thought, the ghost in a mirror.

Catch a beam in your hands, a beam of light,
One bright golden beam, fledgling of dust,
Hold it a moment, and feel its heart, and feel
Ethereal pulse of light between your fingers:
Then let it escape from you, and find its home
In darkness, mother of light: and this will be
Symbol of a symbol, clue to clue, auricle of heart.

The glass breaks, and the liquid is spilled; the string
Snaps, and the music stops; the moving cloud
Covers the sun, and the green field is dark.
These too are symbols: and as far and near
As those; they leave the silver core uneaten;
The golden leaf unplucked; the bitter calyx
Virginal; and the whirling You unknown.



VI


This is not you? these phrases are not you?
That pomegranate of verses was not you?
The green bright leaf not you, nor the golden fruit
Burning amongst the leaves, hot fruit of gold,
Nor bird, nor bough, nor bole, nor heaven's blue?
Alas, dear woman, I have sung in vain.

Let me dishevel then once more the leaves
of Cupid's bright thesaurus, and there find
The word of words, the crimson seed of seeds,
The aureate sound of sounds; and out of this
Conceive one more your beauty, and in terms
Your feminine keen eye will not disdain.

For this is you: on April page it is,
Again on June, and once more on December:
On August page I find it twice, and March
Chronicles it in footnote, and July
Asserts it roundly; this, from page to page,
I find you many times, in many terms.

It is a snowflake, which is like a star,
And melts upon the hand; it is a cobweb
Shot with silver that from the golden lip
Of April's dandelion hangs to the grass;
It is a raindrop, of tremendous worth,
Which slides the whole length of a lilac leaf.


This is not you? these symbols are not you?
Not snowflake, cobweb, raindrop?...Woman, woman,
You are too literal, to strict with me.
What would you have? Some simple copper coin-
I love you, you are lovely, I adore you?
Or, better still, dumb silence and a look?

No, no, this will not do; I am not one
For whom these silences are sovereign;
The pauses in the music are not music,
Although they make the music what it is.
Therefor I thumb one more the god's thesaurus,
For phrase and praise, and find it all for you.


It is a star which might be thought a snowflake,
Lost in a twintkling; it is a dandelion
Shrouded with silver brightness; it is a leaf
Which lets the raindrop go, but keeps its light.
It is the purple veining, in the white,
That makes the pure throat of the iris pure...

Yet you would have me say you hair is Helen´s,-
Your gait angelic; while I turn from these
To the vast pages of that manuscript
On which the stars are stars, the world a world;
And there I find you written down, between
Arcturus and a prinmrose and the sea.



VII


Beloved, let us once more praise the rain,
Let us discover some new alphabet,
For this, the often-praised; and be ourselves,
The rain, the chickweed, and the burdock leaf,
The green- white privet flower, the spotted stone,
And all that welcomes rain; the sparrow, too,-
Who watches with a hard eye, from the seclusion,
Beneath the elm-tree bough, till rain is done.

There is an oriole who, upside down,
Hangs at his nest, and flicks an orange wing,-
Under a tree as dead and still as lead;
There is a single leaf, in all this heaven
Of leaves, which rain has loosened from its twig:
The stem breaks, and it falls but it is caught
Upon a sister leaf, and thus she hangs;
There is an acorn cup, beside a mushroom,
Which catches three drops from the stooping cloud.

The timid bee goes back to hive; the fly
Under the broad leaf of the hollyhock
Perpends stupid with cold; the raindark snail
Surveys the wet world from a watery stone...
And still the syllables of water whisper:
The wheel of cloud whirs slowly: while we wait
In the dark room; and in your heart I find
one silver raindrop,- on a hawthorn leaf,-
Orion in a cobweb, and the World.



VIII


Conceive: be fecundated by the word.
Hang up your mind for the intrusion of the wind.
Be blown, be blown, like a handful of withered seed,
Or a handful of leaves in autumn. Blow, blow,
Careless of where you blow, or to what end,
Or whether living or dying. Go with the wind,
Whirl and return, lodge in a tree, detach,
Sail on a stream in scarlet for trout to stare at,
Comfortless, aimless, brilliant. There is nothing
So suits the soul as change.

................................................You have no name:
And what you call yourself is but a whisper
Of that divine and deathless and empty word
Which breathed all things to motion. You are you?
But what is you? What is this thing called you?
A seed, a leaf? a singing congregation
Of molecules? an atom split in two?
Electrons dancing in a magic circle?...
A world, of which self-knowledge is the centre?...
Laugh, and forget yourself; despise, and change;
Hate, or do murder, love, beget, despair.
Go down and up again, go in and out,
Drink of the black and bright, bathe in the bitter,
Burn in the fiercest, and be light as ash.

You might have been a sparkle of clear sand.
You, who remember for a twinkling instant
All things, or what you think all things to be,
Whose miseries consume you, or whose joys
Hoist you to heaven, such heaven as you will:
You might have been a dream dreamed in a dream
By some one dreaming of God and dreamed by God.
You migt indeed have been a God, a star,
A world of stars and Gods, a web of time;
You might have been the word that breathed the world.


You are all things, and nothing. Ah poor being,
Sad ghost of wind, dead leaf of autumnal God,
Bright seed of brief disaster, changing shape:
Go with the wind, be untenacious, yet
Tenacious too; touch quickly what you may;
Remember and forget; and all transact
As if each touch were fatal and the last.
You are all things, and all things are your soul.




IX


All this is nothing: all that we said is nothing:
Your eyes, your hair, are nothing, you grief, your tears,-
Your laughter, too, that filled the room with laughter,
And your quick step, as quickly gone as come;
Nothing, nothing, as goldenrod is nothing,
Withered in season, and from it gone the web,
And the poor spider gone, and all his flies.
What´s goldenrod to Deneb, that bright star?
What means the spider to the moon? what means
This lecherous human, with his loves and griefs,
To such rank vegetation as Venus knows,
Or the cold chasms of snow that mantle Mars?
Nothing: they do not know us. We dispense
With all authority; and what we are,
Or what we have, are what we have and are
In our own godhead, and in that alone.

All is meaningless?...Or all means nothing?
Your hand is but a claw for clutching food,
Food for the heart or belly?... Your two eyes
But sharpened senses for the just perception
Of this?...So come we to our mother chaos.
But there is,-so you tell me, music, too:
Music and beauty, and the love of love,
Music and love and beauty, and all that.
There is this moment, this unsubstantial moment,
Which has a substance deep as God is deep:
Deeper, in fact, than thought of God can be.
You there, I here,-the rug of wool between us,
Four pictures on the wall, a room, a house,
Water in pipes, brought from the hills for us,
An ash-tray, and a table, and three chairs:
All this devised for man by man; all this,
And our communion through them, and our speech.
You there, I here, who half-perceive each other...

Woman, the thing is madness, we are mad.
You are not Helen, no I Solomon.
Bathsheba you are not, nor am I Troy.



X


But you and I, Charybdis, are not new;
And all that flows between us is dead...
-Thus Scylla, the scarred rock, sad child of time,
Benumbed with barnacles and hung with weed,
With urchins at her feet, and on her brow
Foul nests of cormorants, adressed her moan
To hoar Charybdis, who, beyond the whirpool,
Lifted a hornèd crag to God and Nothing.
And still the salt sea sucked between them, bearing
The bones of ships and bones of humans, white
The one as other, and as little worth.

Where is this corner of the crumbling world:
Where are these rocks, beloved, that cry out
Their hate and fear of time, their bitter sadness
At past, and passing, and the sense of past?
It is between ourselves these waters flow.
It is ourselves who are these self-same rocks,-
And we it is whom time has cracked and hung
With frost and filth. The sea-gull's is our voice;
The wail of mariners; the cry of wind.
And all that flows between us is dead.

No need to go to Lethe, nor to Sibyl,
To memory, or forgetfulness, or both,
To find such horror, or such richness, mixed,
As we can find who smile here face to face.
The waters of the human soul are deep.
We are the rocks that rot above those waters.
We are the rocks on whom the times have written.
We, the recorded sadness of the world.

What marvels, then, for us, who know already
All that the waters of the Godhead give?
Let us desist from this forlorn attempt
To wring strange beauty from a world well known.
Patience is all: so Shakspere might have said.
Let us be patient, then, and hear at night
The flux and reflux of the whirpool, borne
Restless between us; submit, since needs we must,
To sad remembrance; but remember also
That there was nought before remembrance was.


XI


Address him how you will, this golden fly,-
This dung-fed gildling of a summer's day:
He'll have his time, will buzz and come and go,
Visit the queenliest flowers, suck his fill,
Fatten himself to glory, and be dead.
He's Beowulf, is he? give him Grendel, then,
And Grendel´s mother also, and the rest.
He'll strut, by God, as well upon a grass-blade
As any other ant; and we will praise him.

At midnight, when the graves all yawned together,
A pestilential sigh; again at noon,
When all the graves, with a smug sound of silence,
Closed up their chops against the light of day;
He heard-or so he'll have us think-a cry.
It was old Adam's cry; it was the cry
Of human flesh, delivered out of time,
Untimely ripped from chaos; it was anguish
Phrased in a white and red of flesh, as flowers
Phrase in a white and red a something else.
And he, this gildling, heard it, and was moved;
He mimicked it; he learned its naked vowels;
He spoke it, sang it, shouted it, although
Its meaning still escaped him.

...................................................O just God,
Teach us how justice may be done to him.
Remind us, with the mirror and the sea,
With ice, and the bright parrot, and the moon,
And the dear dream that shakes our limbs in sleep,
How all of nature is shot through with this
Sweet mimicry. This fault, if fault it be,
Is Godlike; as all other things are Godlike.
What matter that this cry, this cry of woe,
This cry so precious to us, so our own,
Our inarticulate and inmmortal grief,
Should be, by this poor gildling, overheard,
And twice and thrice and many times rehearsed?
He too is God. Divine and empty, he
Repeats, unknowing, the disastrous word;
A fool, a pool of water, speaks the star;
Heartless and ignorant, drunkard of language, he
Deflowers the immortal heartbreak for his bride.


XII


Poor fool, deluded toy, brief anthropomorph,
You who depend at centre of your web,
Thinking the web projected from yourself,
With all its silver spokes and drops of dew,
Its antic flies and frantic wings, and such,-
Consider now if you yourself are not
Created by the web. The spokes and drewdrops,
The flies and wings, gigantic web of the world:
This whirling wheel, concentring on itself:
Produced and sought you; you yourself, poor spider,
Dreamed of by chaos and chaos born.

Poor fool, sad anthropomorph, give up this notion
Centrifugal; perpend awhile, instead,
The world centripetal, and see yourself
As the last comer in this world of shapes.
You dreamed the world? Alas, the world dreamed you.
And you but give it back, distorted much
By the poor brain-digestion, which you call
Intelligence, or vision, or the truth.

Here's the morning, with its flooding of the world,
Not what the evening was; and here is evening
Come with its multitude of golden flies,
Which is not as the morning was; and here
Is noon, which is not either. And for each
You meditate profoundly. This is morning?
All hail to selfhood, who is come refreshed
From nightlong dark digestion of the things
He trapped from chaos of the yesterday.
And here is noon, and rest; and here is evening,
With all those golden flies which yet remain
For conquest by the cunning. Self is strong:
He shapes the world as should be. He is wise:
He understands the world as food. He spins
The broken rim anew, and calls it good.


XIII


And how begin, when there is no beginning?
How end, when there’s no ending? How cut off
One drop of blood from other, break the stream
Which, with such subtlety, such magnificent power,
Binds the vast windflower to its throbbing world?
…Shall we be bold, and say, then, ”at this point
The world begins, the windflower ends?” rip out
One bleeding atom, pretend it has no kin?...
Or shall we, with the powerful mind, hold off
The sky from earth, the earth from sky, to see
Each perish into nothing?

.............................................They will perish:
The drop of blood, the windflower, and the world;
Sound will be silence; meaning will have no meaning.
The blade of grass, in such a light, will grow
Monstrous as Minotaur; the tick of the clock,-
Should it be taken as the clock’s dark secret,-
Is chaos and catastrophe; the heart
Cries like a portent in a world of portents,
All meaningless and mad.

............................................Softly, together,
We tread our little arcs upon our star;
Stare at each other’s eyes, and see them thinking;
Lay hands upon our hearts and feel them beating;
But what precedes the luminous thought, or what
Unnumbered heartbeats timed the beat we feel,-
What burnings up of suns, or deaths of moons,
Shaped them, or what wreckage in time’s stream,-
Ignore… And are our footsteps parallel?

Or runs your blood as slow as mine? or comes
The golden crocus, of this April’s fiction,
As hotly to your thought as mine? The birds
That throng imagination’s boughs, and sing,
Or flash from sward to leaf, for the sheer joy
Of mounting or descending in thought’s air;
Or mate in ecstasy, and from the flame
Breed constellations of flame-colored flight:
Come they and go they, love, in your green tree
As swiftly as in mine? was there such singing
In mine as yours, or at the self-same season?
Have I such boughs as you, in the same place;
Or such a fountain of bright flame, when birds
All skyward mount together?-


....................................................So we pace
From here to there, from there to here,-touch hands
As alien each to each as leaf and stone,
One chaos and another. Have good heart!
Your chaos is my world; perhaps my chaos
Is world enough for you. For what’s unguessed
Will have such shape and sweetness as the knowing
Ruins with pour of knowledge. From one bird
We guess the tree, and hear the song; but if
Miraculous vision gives us, all at once,
The universe of birds and boughs, and all
The trees and birds from which their time has come,-
The world is lost…
....................................Love, let us rest in this.


XIV


-You went to the verge, you say, and come back safely?
Some have not been so fortunate,-some have fallen.
Children go lightly there, from crag to crag.
And coign to coing,-where even the goat is wary,-
And make a sport of it….They fling down pebbles,
Following, with eyes undizzied, the long curve,
The long slow outward curve, into the abyss,
As far as eye can follow; and they themselves
Turn back, unworried, to the there and now….
But have been there, too?-

................................................-I saw at length
The space-defying pine, that on the last
Outjutting rock has cramped its powerful roots.
There I stood I too: under that tree I stood:
My hands against its resinous bark: my face
Turned out and downward to the fourfold kingdom.
The wind roared from all quartets. The waterfall
Came down, it seemed, from Heaven. The mighty sound
Of pouring elements- earth, air, and water,-
The cry of eagles, chatter of falling stones,-
These were the frightful language of that place.
I understood it ill, but understood.-


-You understood it? Tell me, then, its meaning.
It was an all, a nothing, or a something?
Chaos, or divine love, or emptiness?
Water and earth and air and the sun’s fire?
Or else, a question, simply?-

....................................................-Water and fire were there,
And air and earth; there too was emptiness;
All, and nothing, and something too, and love.
But these poor words, these squeaks of ours, in which
We strive to mimic, with strained throats and tongues,
The spawning and outrageous elements-
Alas, how paltry are they! For I saw-



-What did you see?



.............................................-I saw myself and God.
I saw the ruin in which godhead lives:
Shapeless and vast: the strewn wreck of the world:
Sadness unplumbed: misery without bound.
Wailing I heard, but also I heard joy.
Wreckage I saw, but also I saw flowers.
Hatred I saw, but also I saw love….
And thus, I saw myself.


-........................................And this alone?

And this alone awaits you, when you dare
To that sheer verge where horror hangs, and tremble
Against the falling rock; and, looking down,
Search the dark kingdom. It is to self you come,-
And that is God. It is the seed of seeds:
Seeds for disastrous and immortal worlds.

It is the answer that no question asked.



XV


Dead man: dead brother: sad mouth stopped with clay:
Reed for the rice-bird’s wing, shade for the fly:
This thousand years dissolved, yet living still,
Here standing, in this clay, which your hand fashioned;
Here brooding, thinking, giving, in this room:

Dead heart: dead brain: sad spirit lost in weather:
Blown to the southwest in a rattle of leaves,
Cracked under foot, and all, all gone together:
Yet here still standing, by this mirror, facing
Whoever sees this porcelain girl,-this figure
Devout, serene, where now I meet your soul:

Dead hand, you touched the heart of time, you knew
Whispers of silence, the mute path of God;
Hot chaos knew, with its rank arteries,
And anguish, with its blood. You heard the ticking
Of bruisèd minutes from the wall of night,
Suspiration of stars, the bitter cry
Of atoms grooved in orbit. You were living:
Sunlight had packed your heart. Living, were dead:
Darkness had packed your thought. You knew desire:
Love had gilded the moonlight on your eyes.

And now, -all gone, all gone; except this figure,-
This porcelain girl-whose head is bowed, whose hands
Await a service, and whose heart is meek….
If there are gods inhabiting in chaos:
If there is justice, or a tithe of justice:
See that the mind that dreamed this thing be safe.


XVI


Coruscation of glass-so said he, sharply-
It is not, nor alembic tongued with flame;
Nor is it molten gold, nor a blue light,
Nor brass, nor silver; no, not one of these.
The water-drop, that hangs, and quakes, and falls,
Quivering with all heaven before it falls,-
No, no although it take the sky's whole azure,
This is not....It is a little flame,
Smaller than eye can think; tinier even
Than the frail twinkle of a thought, which burns
One atom in the brain...

.............................................And yet this thing-
This iridescence, this coruscation, this twinkle-
This lizard's eye, this fly's wing-!


..............................................................Merciful heaven,
Give me a language that will say this thing,
And having said, destroy! Give me a freedom
To scorn this thing! Am I slave? Must I
Deliver up my body, dwarf my mind,
Swaddle my spirit and crucify my heart,
Because this lizard's eye, infinitesimal,
Has struck me somewhere? Must I walk a madman?
Grow pale? be melancholy? have bad dreams?
Renounce my food, hating mankind, and all
Because this lizard's eye has looked at me?

Absurd! It is an indigestion, merely.
Disorder of the blood.... Mistaken diet.
Or too much looking at the moon, too little
Upon the sun. The print I read's too small:
I will get larger books, with larger margins.
I will cut down the tree that shades my window.
And I will go to music-

.................................................No, not music!
The thing itself-by God, the thing is music.
For when she touches me, or when she speaks-!
Then comes the little fly's wing of a flame:
Then the brain lights and dizzies: then the body
Grows light as brightness....And the thing is music.
It is the sound of many instruments-
Complex, diverse, an alchemy of voices-
Brass melting into silver, silver smoothly
Dissolving into gold; and then the harsh
And thickening discord: as if chaos yawned
Suddenly and magnificently for a forest;
Swallowed its tangle of too gorgeous bloom;
Devoured its beauty, derisively, and clashed
A brassy gloating after....Is it this?
Yes; and the chaos, then-the chaos, then,-
Ah, what a heaven of sweetness of pure sound
It yields to God! A clear voice, like a star,-
And farther off another, -then another,-
Each, like an angel, taking his own station-;
As if a thousand tapers, one by one,
Were lighted, all the way from Here to Nothing;
As if thousand angels, one by one,
Walked over heaven singing....

........................................................Merciful God-
This is a wondrous thing; that if she touch
My fingernail with but her fingernail,-
Or if she look at me, for but the time
It takes a leaf to fall from leaf to leaf,-
I become music, chaos, light, and a sound;
I am no longer I: I am a world.



XVII


And thus Narcissus, cunning with a hand-glass,
Preening a curl, and smirking, had his say.
God's pity on us all! he cried (half laughing)
That we must die; that Lesbia's curl be lost,
And Shakspere' wit forgotten; and the potter-
Who saw, one instant, all humanity,
And phrased its passion in a single figure-
That he be sunk in clay, and dumb as clay.

Gos's pity on us! he cried, and turned
The guileful mirror in a guileful light;
Smiled at the fair-curved cheek, the golden hair;
The lip, the nostril, the broad brow, the hand;
Smiled at the young bright smile.... Alas, alas,
To think that so great beauty should be lost!
This gold, and scarlet, and flushed ivory,
Be made a sport for worms!

.................................................But then a wonder
Deepened his gazing eyes, darkened the pupils,
Shaded his face, as if a cloud had passed.
The mirror spoke the truth. A shape he saw
Unknown before,- obscene, disastrous, huge,-
Huge as the world, and formless.... Was this he?
This dumb, tumultuous, all- including horror?
This Caliban of rocks? this steaming pit
Of foisting hells,-circle on darker circle,-
With worlds in rings to right and left, and other
Starbearing hells within them, other heavens
Arched over chaos?...

..............................................He pondered the vast vision:
Saw the mad order, the inhuman god;
And his poor pity, with the mirror dropped,
Wore a new face: such brightness and such darkness,
Pitiless, as a moonblanched desert wears.





XVIII


In the beginning, nothing; and in the end,
Nothing; and in between these useless nothings,
Brightness, music, God, one's self.... My love,-
Heart that beats for my heart, breast on which I sleep,-
Be brightness, music, God, my self, for me.

In the beginning, silence, and in the end
Silence; and between these silences,
The sound of one white flower, opening, closing,
My love, my love, be that white flower for me:
Open and close: that sound will be my world.

In the beginning, chaos, and in the end
Chaos; and the vast wonder come between,-
Glory, bewilderment, all sense of brightness.
Love, be that glory and that sense of brightness.
You are what chaos yielded. Be my star.




XIX


Watch long enough, and you will see the leaf
Fall from the bough. Without a sound it falls:
And soundless meets the grass.... And so you have
A bare bough, and a dead leaf in dead grass.
Something has come and gone. And that is all.


But what were all the tumults in this action?
What wars of atoms in the twing, what ruins,
Fiery and disastrous, in the leaf?
Timeless the tumult was, but gave no sign.
Only, the leaf fell, and the bough is bare.

This is the world: there is no more than this.
The unseen and disastrous prelude, shaking
The trivial act from the terrific action.
Speak: and the ghosts of change, past and to come,
Throng the brief word. The maelstrom has us all.


XX


So, in the evening, to the simple cloister:
This place of boughs, where sounds of water, softly,
Lap on the stones. And this is what you are:
Here, in this dusty room, to which you climb
By four steep flights of stairs. The door is closed:
The furies of the city howl behind you:
The last bell plunges rock-like to the sea:
The horns of taxis wail in vain. You come
Once more, at evening, to this simple cloister;
Hushed by the quiet walls, you stand at peace.

What ferns of thought are these, the cool and green,
Dripping with moisture, that festoon these wall?
What water-lights are these, whose pallid rings
Dance with the leaves, or speckle the pale stones?
What spring is this, that bubbles the cold sand,
Urging the sluggish grains of white and gold?...
Peace. The delicious silence throngs with ghosts
Of wingèd sound and shadow. These are you.

Now in the evening, in the simple cloister,
You stand and wait; you stand and listen, waiting
For wingèd sounds and wingèd silences,
And long remembered shadows. Here the rock
Lets down its vine of many colored flowers:
Waiting for you, or waiting for the lizard
To move his lifted claw, or shift his eye
Quick as a jewel. Here the lizard waits
For the slow snake to slide among cold leaves.
And, on the bough that arches the deep pool,
Lapped in a sound of water, the brown thrush
Waits, too, and listens, till his silence makes
Silence as deep as song. And times becomes
A timeless crystal, an eternity,
In which the gone and coming are at peace.

What bird is this, whose silence fills the trees
With rich delight? What leaves and boughs are these,
What lizard, and what snake?... The bird is gone:
And while you wait, another comes and goes,-
Another and another; yet your eye,
Although it has not moved, can scarcely say
If birds have come and gone,-so quick, so brief,-
Or if the thrush who waits there is the same...
The snake and the lizard change, yet are the same:
The flowers, many-colored, on the vine,
Open and close their multitude of stars,-
Yet are the same.... And all these things are you.

Thus in the evening, in the simple cloister,
Eternity adds ring to ring, the darker
Beyond the brighter; and your silence fills
With such a world of worlds,- so still, so deep,-
As never voice could speak, whether it were
The ocean's or the bird's. The night comes on:
You wait and listen, in the darkened room,
To all these ghosts of change. And they are you.



XXI


The first note, simple; the second note, distinct;
The third note, harsh; the fourth, an innuendo;
The fifth, a humble triad; and the sixth-
Suddenly-is the chord of chords, that breaks
The evening; and from evening calls the angel,
One voice divinely singing.

..................................................Thus, at random,
This coil of worlds in which we grope; and thus
Our comings and our goings. So the twilight
Deepens the hour from rose to purple; so
One bell-note is the death-note, and completes
The half-remembered with the soon-forgotten.
The threes and fives compute our day; we move
To doom with all things moving.


.........................................................You and I
Are things compounded of time's heart-beats, stretching
The vascular instant from the vascular past;
You, with forgotten worlds, and I with worlds
Forgotten and remembered. Yet the leaf,
With all its bleeding veins, is no more torn
Than you are torn, this moment, from the last.
Can you rejoin it? Is it here, or there?
Where is that drop of blood you knew last year?
Where is that image which you loved, that frame
Of ghostly apparitions in your thought,
Alchemic mystery of your chilhood, lost
With all its dizzy colors?... It is gone.
Only the echo's echo can be heard.
Thrice-mirrored, the ghost pales.


........................................................You plunge, poor soul,
From time's colossal brink into that chasm
Of change and limbo and immortal flux;
And bring up only, in your blood-stained hands,
One grain of sand that sparkles. Plunge again,
Poor diver, among weeds and death! and bring
The pearl of brightness up. It is this instant
When all is well with us: when hell and heaven
Arch in a chord of glory over madness;
When pole Star sings to Sirius; and the wave
Of ultimate Ether breaks on ultimate Nothing.
The world's a rose which comes this night to flower:
This evening is its light. And it is we,
Who, with our harmonies and discords, woven
Of myriad things forgotten and remembered,
Urge the vast twilight to immortal bloom.


XXII


And if this heart go back again to earth,
Taking his anguish with him to make roots,
And his delight for flowers,-as if a laugh
Should grimly quench itself in rock and grass;
Or if the soul, like the last breath, should go
Thinning away in air, a smoke of frost;
What is there strange, then, in this myth of thought,-
That I should take the tulip's bell, and crush it,
And from its broken beauty make a heart?
Look, I will catch in air the frost's bright sparkle,
And warm it in my hands to make a soul.
What better stuff than a hoarfrost for a soul?...
What better blood,-than anguish, for a heart?...
Thus comes my angel, all complete, from myth;
And weeps, as angels should.

......................................................And I will shake
Such darkness over music as will send her
From sound to silence back again. The night
Will beat her down and quench her. Thus, bewitched,
She will coil home confused, with all her marvels,
Draw in her pulse of colors, wings of light,
Contract, assume an agony, and be
Once more the mind that made her.

..............................................................Is this strange?
Or is it strange that always we should go
Bewildered, in this dance from blood to beauty,-
From beauty back to blood?... I am a man:
Sentience wrung from the rock. And in a twinkling
The rock is wrung from sentience.


..............................................................Love, it is time
We called to huge assembly the bright stars,-
Those luminous hearts that are our kin in blood.
We will confer; with so huge majesty
As stars and men may bring to conference;
With oratory of lightning and of gravel
Propound and legislate, upon this matter;
And keep our minutes in a book of sand.
Here, we will say, the man is but a leaf,-
Veined like the leaf, and thrilled, and vascular,
And blown as lightly down. He drinks the light,-
Yet in his veins the sap is full of death;
And his own darkness meets him from within.
Here, we will say, and with a thousand tongues,-
The tongues of leaves and stars, and men and rocks,-
That we are all blood-brothers, and but change
From one to other. And this instant speech,
Now in the sunlight as we walk together,
(Summoning to our thought all hell and heaven),
This too we see, in the brief act of speech,
Gone back again to stone. The thing I said
Was the last flicker of a dying star;
The falling of a tree before a glacier;
The fly in resin caught, and turned to amber;
The fossil dug from earth. The thing I said
Was in the moving grass, before it came
With all its false complexity upon
The current of my blood; and it is gone
Back to simplicity as soon as spoken....

Here is the star upon our tongues; and here
Our consciouness, with all its wonders, falls
From its bright moment, like a cobweb, broken,
Once more into the whirl of rock. And we,-
With all our hot complexity of passion,
Our cool and intricate questionings,-are only
Histories told in stone, and, once told, lost....
Did we admire the evening? feel the light
Upon our eyes and hands?....But this was only
Rock that whispered of rock; and it is gone.


XXIII


The clouds flow slowly across the sky, the idea
Slowly takes shape, and slowly passes, and changes
Its shape in passing. It is a shape of grief,
Plangent and poignant. It is a comic gesture.
It is a wound in the air. It is last year.
It is the notion,-flippantly held and lost,-
Of next year, with a burden of coarse disasters,
Or the after, which a burden of boredom.
The leaf has come and gone-it was hard, bright, brittle,
Bore thorns, sparkled in light, and now is lost,-
Find it, love, if you can. It was the scene
Of Tristan, firefly, and Isolde, firefly; they glowed
With timeless rapture upon it, gilded its edges,
And they and it are gone.


..................................................The clouds flow slowly,
The idea slowly changing, like the cloud,
The mind is changing, like a heaven of clouds,
The "I" changes, and with it the"you." The sea
Brings its flotsam, and takes it away again,
Or leaves a bewildering fragment on the sand,
A pebble, a splinter of wood, a cork, a bottle,
Which other tides will devour. The wind alters,
And the cloud, moving, becomes a bird, a dolphin,
The skeleton of a leaf, a curve, a nothing.
The blood changes, and the idea becomes
A wish, or half a wish, a fear, a chuckle,-
Vision of winking bubbles,-or a nothing.


The year moves on, and with it I become
something less and something more.
The window breaks, and the light in the room is changed.
The cobweb alters it anew. The rain
Darkens the corners beyond recognition,
Evokes whats ghosts they have. The southwest wind
Fills them suddenly with blossom. The snow
Throngs them with memories....


..........................................................Excellent woman,
Rock over water, field beneath cloud shadow,
Fixed above the changing.
Take comfort if you can in this mad waste.
I am a leaf that dies upon your hand:
Dismiss me with my dying. We are undone
With permamence in impermanence, the flowing
Of shape to shape which means all shapelessness.
Is this my hand in yours? ah, no such thing.
It is the fog which curtsies to the fog:
The god who finds himself a fraud: the wind
From nowhere blown to nowhere.


XXIV


I
And so you poise yourself, magnificent angel,-
Bird of bright dream , brief soul of briefer knowledge,-
In the pure aether of a thought, unthinking
Of endings or beginnings. And the light
Of change and unknown purpose hues your wings.
The cloud, that hangs between you and the moon,
Darkening all things, darkens also you.
The sunrise burns you to an incandescence,
And sleep, annihilator of all and nothing,
Makes of your wings a demon´s wings, that winnow
The freezing air of chaos.

............................................So, unconcious,
You beat the winds of nescience, and sustain,-
Maginificent angel, treader of bright thought,-
Your being, which is nothing, in a nothing;
And yet, are something, and are glorious;
And make the godhead great.

......................................................How shall we name
This instant, which is you, and make it rich?...
To what rank origins,
In memory's dung or rock, trace out its seed?...
It is the clover that is cropped and gone.
It is the frostflower on the fern, that melts
At daybreak, and no trace of it is left.
It is the shadow of the fern, on the grass,
Dispersed among a multitude of grassblades,
Shaken by the wind, all unobserved by ants,
And ended with the day.


II
............................................Majestic instant,-
Great golden sum of dream whose truth is zero,
Zero of thought whose truth is god, and life,-
Pause in your flight, as if the arrow paused.
Be for our purpose as a rainbow, frozen.
Hang betwixt zenith and the nadir, as
A drop of rain might hang. And is this truth?
Or is the grassblade, by itself, the grass?

It is a moment between moments, passing
From one to other; is a syllable,
meaningless in itself which lights a word;
The pause, between two words, which makes a meaning;
The gulf between two stones which makes a world.


III
Upward he soars from nothing, and his wings
Are marvellous with dew; or downward plunges
To that sublime Gehenna whence we came.
There too his wings are wide; and there he hangs,
Magnificent, in madness and corruption,
Master of outrage, and at home in shame.
Yet knows he this? He is a kind of fool;
A mote that dances in a beam; aware
Of selfhood only, but not selfhood'd roots.
He sings, but knows no cause for singing; laughs,
For laughter's sake, as if the dead leaf laughed;
His agony is causeless; and his tears
Fall like a frozen sleet from his blind eyes,
Forgotten soon as fallen....

...................................................Thus we reach
The mystery with hot and vascular hands,
Insensitive; it perishes as we touch,
Perishes like the snowflake. Thus we wear
A brightness on the forehead of our terror,
A hopeless smile upon the ruin we hide.

And meanwhile, as we sit here in the evening,-
And listen, and remember, and are still,-
Upward or downward borne upon wide wings,
From Heaven to Hell and back again,- we know
We are but lightning on a sea of chaos;
The flash on sad confusion which is god.



XXV


And in the darkness touched a face, and knew
Beyond all knowledge of the hands or senses
The truth that only one such face can tell.
The wind was there, the cold, the sound of snow;
Terror was there, the mystic door unopened;
The golden doge was there, with robe and ring,
The hour-glass, and the spider; and he came
Despite these things, and most of all despite
The skeleton, with the lantern in his hand,
To that one face whose message was the truth.

But what is truth?- Is it a sum of surds?
The lamp towards a locus moving? time,
Measured in agonies in the ventricle?-
Why, let us be pedantic, and proclaim
That truth is what it seems, or seems to us;
It is the two plus two that makes a four;
It is a falling of a leaf, the death
Of holiest mystery upon a cross;
It is the coughing of an old man's blood;
It is the human face he thought was God.

But in the darkness touching it, he thought
All terror solved, all wonder sounded, all
Asperities of desert or of mountain,
Remotest miseries of Aldebaran, or
Immediate tortures of the pulse, dissolved.
The skeleton was broken, and the spider
Reduced to such a minion as will weave
Dainty devices for a doge's dress;
The snow, the cold, were gone, the wind was gone;
And in a sudden glory he was lost.


XXVI


There was one drop of blood came down this thigh
Between the hairs, as a slow brook might go,
And slipped across the knee, and backward then
(I watched it) streaked the calf, thence fell to ground.
The grass received it twice: two blades were red.

And as I saw it, I was moved to speak;
Profundities were on my tongue, but vague;
Whence come these miracles? whence flows this blood?
Is there a god?- But still , I did not speak;
Stared at the wet grass; and then raised my eyes:

And looked a long while at the west, where clouds
Darkened with blood above the slaughtered sun.
I saw a tree, which stood up, like a cross,
Against that brightness; and I thought "a tree
Will come to agony as sure as god";

And thinking this, was studious not to turn
Toward that agony which behind me hung.
But why was this? And as I further thought,
And downward turned my eyes, and in the grass
Saw the small daisy, which the night had closed:

I laughed a little to myself, for so
(At least to others) might my own heart seem:
Afraid of darkness. And as thus I stood,
With downcast eyes, at sunset, in that place,
Secretly laughing to myself, he died.

I heard him die: I knew that he had died.
And instantly I stooped and touched the grass,
Tenderly, yet with hands self-conscious too,
And with one finger touched the daisy, moved
Its frightened face against a chickweed leaf.

And all the while I smiled.- But why was this?
Was there no rash profundity to say?
-Instead, I walked a few feet to the west,
And looked across the vineyards and hard hills
To the last light that smouldered in a cloud;

And kept my back towards that agony,
Which now no more was agony; and said
With a loud voice (because I was alone):
Take from this heart its mean profundities;
And make it simple in the face of death.

Then came away; and left that effigy
Of godhead and myslef and my dear friend
Alone and cold and lofty in cold light;
And downward went to misery renewed;
To that same god, in agony of birth.




XXVII


So, death being death, and love to hatred changed,
The fern to marble, and the hour to snow;
Music become the noise of worms, and all
This dance of stars a senseless rout of atoms;
Come: we will break our hearts with no compunction:
And make a sad beginning of our ends.

Out of corruption the bright daffodil
Lifts up her brave preposterous loveliness:
The bee comes forth, again, from the thawed hive;
And we, with numbèd wings of sense, crawl out
To stretch our sickly bodies in the sun;
And to confer with what ii is we have.

Was there a sunset once, of divers colors?
Pale purple, gold, portals of broken light,
Whence rose a heavenly harmony of sound?
Such as believing hearts might prophet-wise
Summon from darkness, or from tombs?- This light,
This heavenly sound, we now no longer know;

Yet know we knew it once; and keep therefrom
A kind of warmth on our remembering eyes.
The hands we held against that light still sparkle;
And if we turn them now to humbler use,-
Reshaping the dark earth which is ourselves,-
This is false glory we may well indulge.

Beauty there was in the first song we sang,
Before the fire had touched our tongues; again,
Beauty will grace our last of songs, the more
Because we know that beauty meaningless.
Is there a god who knows and mourns himself?
It is Narcissus and his glass is truth.

The sunset comes again with opened doorways;
And if we see beyond it what we know,
And not that fairyland at which we guessd;
If we see horrors there, in a bright light,-
A misery of waves,- a majesty
Of incandescent and defrauding void,-

Yet, let us break our hearts with no compunction,
And find what music senseless courage yields;
We will applaud illusions, smiling still
At wisdom, which applauds itself; and go
Once more towards the dreadful west, to ask
Whence the bright colors of sunset come.


XXVIII


The time has come, the clock says time has come,
Here in the mid-waste of my life I pause,
The hour is in my hand, and in my heart
Miscellany of shards and shreds. The clock
Ticks its iambics, and the heart its spondees,
Time has come, time has come and gone,
Winter has taken its toll, summer its harvest,
Spring has brought and taken away its illusion.

What is time, the clock says what is time,
Never the past, never the future, always now,
What is time, the seed says it is all
fertility turned deep by the foot of the plow.

The hour has added to the spirit's peace,
Seed has added to minute, and world to flower,
Tears has flowed to the heart till is rotted,
Hands have worn the hand till it is hard.
Why, I have seen the all , have seen the nothing,
Have heard the monosyllable of the tomb,
Have buried stars and resurrected them,
And watched the shadow moving across a wall.

What is time, the stitch says what is time,
Always the future, never the past, never the now;
Only the seam foresees the future, but even
The longest seam will feel the foot of the plow.

Stand, take off the garments time has lent you,
The watch, the coins, the handkerchief, the shoes,
Take out your heart and prop it on the mantel,
Your soul also, and wrap it in a thought;
Display your shards and shreds on the windowsill
Among geraniums and aspidistras,
The week before, and the week before the last,
Ridiculous chronicle, taste, touch, and smell.

What is time, the heart says what is time.
The heart is ticking on the mantelpiece.
The heart says all is past and nothing future.
The heart says heart will never cease.




XXIX


What shall we do-what shall we think-what shall we say-?
Why, as the crocus does, on a March morning,
With just such shape and brightness; such fragility;
Such white and gold, and out of just such earth.
Or as the cloud does on the northeast wind-
Fluent and formless; or as the tree that withers.
What are we made of, strumpet, but of these?
Nothing. We are the sum of all these accidents-
Compounded all our days of idiot trifles,-
The this, the that, the other, and the next;
What x or y said, or old uncle thought;
Whether it rained or not, and at what hour;
Whether the pudding had two eggs or three,
And those we loved were ladies....Were they ladies?
And did they read the proper books, and simper
With proper persons, at the proper teas?
O Christ and God and all deciduous things-
Let us void out this nonsense and be healed.

There is no doubt that we shall do, as always,
Just what the crocus does. There is no doubt
Your Helen of Troy is all that she has seen,-
All filth, all beauty, all honor and deceit.
The spider's web will hang in her bright mind,-
The dead fly die there doubly; and the rat
Find sewers to his liking. She will walk
In such a world as this alone could give-
This of the moment, this mad world of mirrors
And of corrosive memory. She will know
The lecheries of the cockroach and the worm,
The chemistry of the sunset, the foul seeds
Laid by the intellect in the simple heart...
And knowing all these things, she will be she.

She will be also the sunrise on the grassblase-
But pay no heed to that. She will be also
The infinite tenderness of the voice of morning-
But pay no heed to that. She will be also
The grain of elmwood, and the ply of water,
Whirlings in sand and smoke, wind in the ferns,
the fixed bright eyes of dolls.... And this is all.


XXX


You trust the heart? Far better trust the sea.
Or swear, with Romeo, by the inconstant moon.
Believe that ripening acorns will not fall.
Turn a dull eye on heaven, a trustful eye,
And think the clouds will keep the rain forever.
She will be faithless to you; will have smiles,
Deep from the heart, for other men than you;
Will touch them with the wings of her wide spirit;
Delight and madden them; lead them to darkness;
And all with such a fraction of soul’s mischief
As a dropped eyelid covers….In a twinkling
The deed is done: and she is lost, is lost,
Farther than ever imagination’s power
Will sound or soar in chaos.


..............................................Hurry after,
If so you will, with hatred’s furious wings,
And strike her like the hawk; she will be numb,
And stupid too, and hang defenseless under,
And die or live with the slow rage of betrayal.
Strike her till she be dead: and it is you
Who will lie dead, with the world’s ruin about you.
Tell her that she is faithless and a wanton.
Rip auricle from the ventricle, and shred
The sore affections out; but better blame
The ignoble blood-or so you’d say-that comes
From god himself.


For so it comes, from god.
It is the sovereign stream, the source of all;
Bears with it false and true, and dead and dying;
The seed, the seedling; worlds, and worlds to come.
Is there a treason here that is not you?
Accept this logic, this dark blood of things.
There is no treason here that is not you.




XXXI


Where is that noble mind that knows no evil,
Gay insubordinations of the worm?
Discords of mishap, rash disharmonies
Sprung from disorders in the spirit’s state?
If there is such, we’ll have him out in public,
And have his heart out too. There is no good,
No sweet, no noble, no divine, no right,
But it is bred of rich economy
Amongst the hothead factions of the soul.
Show me that virtuous and intolerable woman
Who swears, and doubly swears, that she is good,
And feeds her virtue on a daily lie;
The simple soul who wears simplicity
As if it were a god’s cloak dropped from heaven;
Who has no secrets, no, no one, and minces
Sunrise to sunset with a sunlit smile,
Her little brain and little heart wide open;
By god, we’ll rip foulness from that angel
As never charnel knew!

.........................................But if we find
In some rank purlieu of our rotting world
That sinking wretch whose rot is worse than worst:
That natural marsh of nature, in which evil
Is light as hawk to wing, and with such grace:
Him whom the noble scorn, whose eye is dark,
Who wears proud rags around a Hinnom heart:
Why, in that heart will come such power as never
Visits the virtuous, and such sweetness too
As god reserves for chaos.




XXXII


Such as you saw, on such and such a day,-
The word you spoke, at such and such an hour,-
Such feeling, or such vision, or such thought-!

What is this suchness that we talk of, lady?
What is a “such,” that we should make it speak?
It is a sound by tongue and wonder made-

Delirium of the surface of the earth;
Shudder of air…

.....................And it is less that this-:
It is the flame, dropped on a wet leaf;
The blood-drop on the pillow; the breath blown
On the cold windowpane which winter weaves.


It is history, in item told,
Of ichthyosaurus in a marsh of time;
Of Grimm’s law in the forest leaf…


..........................................................And yet,
Comes the dark forest, which no heart foretells;
No mind foresees, no will forestall, and takes
This suchness, all its beautiful abstraction,-

And you, bright flash of time, whose gentle hands
Touch the divine in melody; and me
Who waste my hour, comparing such with so.


XXXIII


Then came I to the shoreless shore of silence,
Where never summer was nor shade of tree,
Nor sound of water, nor sweet light of sun,
But only nothing and the shore of nothing,
Above, below, around, and in my heart:

Where day was not, not night, nor space, nor time,
Where no bird sang, save him of memory,
Nor footstep marked upon the marl, to guide
My halting footstep; and I turned for terror,
Seeking in vain the Pole Star of my thought;


Where it was blown among the shapeless clouds,
And gone as soon as seen, and scarce recalled,
Its image lost and I directionless;
Alone upon the brown sad edge of chaos,
In the wan evening that was evening always;

Then closed my eyes upon the sea of nothing
While memory brought back a sea more bright,
With long, long waves of light, and the swift sun,
And the good trees that bowed upon the wind;
And stood until grown dizzy with that dream;

Seeking in all that joy of things remembered
One image, one of the dearest, one most bright,
One face, one star, one daisy, one delight,
One hour with wings most heavenly and swift,
One hand the tenderest upon my heart;

But still no image came, save of that sea,
No tenderer thing than thought of tenderness,
No heart or daisy brighter than the rest;
And only sadness at the bright sea lost,
And mournfulness that all had not been praised.


O lords of chaos, atoms of desire,
Whirlwind of fruitfulness, destruction's seed,
Hear now upon the void my late delight,
the quick brief cry of memory, that knows
At the dark's edge how great the darkness is.



XXXIV


After the yes and no, the light denial,
The gesture noted, the eyelids veiled,
The fierce bright light of horror in the eyes,
Avoided, stared at, sounded, where it swarms
With heavy-wingèd and half monstrous things,-
Then is it that the moment falls between us,
Wide as the spangled nothingness that hangs
Between Canopus and Aldebaran.


Woman, and I am lost to you, I go
Downward and inward to such coils of light,
Such speed, such fierceness, and such glooms of filth,
Such labyrinths of change, such laboratories
Of obscene shape incessant in the mind,
As never woman knew. There, like the worm,
Coiling amidst the coils, I make my home;
Eat of the filth, am blessed; digest my name;
Spawn; am spawned; exult; and am spewed forth;
And so come back again, to you, and time-


To find you, with your finger on the clock,
One minute gone, no less, no more, and still
Deceit’s unconscious horror in your eye…
So, to your smile, I give Gehenna’s smile;
And to your kiss, the kiss that breeds a world.





XXXV


This was the gentlest creature that we knew,
This lamia of men, this sensitive
Sad soul, so poisoned, and so poisoning.
God take his bowels out and break his bones,
And show him in the market as he is:
An angel with a peacock’s heart, a fraud
With such a gilding on him as is gold.

This was the nimblest of the necromancers,
This lodestar of the mind, this tentative
Quick thought, so injured, and so injuring.
God take this conscience out, and set him free,
And break his mind to rapture, and delight
Those that would murder him, and those that love,
And those that love mankind.

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