E-text prepared by Lewis Jones
LOOK! WE HAVE COME THROUGH!
D. H. LAWRENCE
Published by Chatto & Windus London MCMXVII
Some of these poems have appeared in the "English Review" and in "Poetry," also in the "Georgian Anthology" and the "Imagist Anthology"
THESE poems should not be considered separately, as so many single pieces. They are intended as an essential story, or history, or confession, unfolding one from the other in organic development, the whole revealing the intrinsic experience of a man during the crisis of manhood, when he marries and comes into himself. The period covered is, roughly, the sixth lustre of a man's life
MOONRISE ELEGY NONENTITY MARTYR A LA MODE DON JUAN THE SEA HYMN TO PRIAPUS BALLAD OF A WILFUL WOMAN FIRST MORNING "AND OH— THAT THE MAN I AM MIGHT CEASE TO BE—" SHE LOOKS BACK ON THE BALCONY FROHNLEICHNAM IN THE DARK MUTILATION HUMILIATION A YOUNG WIFE GREEN RIVER ROSES GLOIRE DE DIJON ROSES ON THE BREAKFAST TABLE I AM LIKE A ROSE ROSE OF ALL THE WORLD A YOUTH MOWING QUITE FORSAKEN FORSAKEN AND FORLORN FIREFLIES IN THE CORN A DOE AT EVENING SONG OF A MAN WHO IS NOT LOVED SINNERS MISERY SUNDAY AFTERNOON IN ITALY WINTER DAWN A BAD BEGINNING WHY DOES SHE WEEP? GIORNO DEI MORTI ALL SOULS LADY WIFE BOTH SIDES OF THE MEDAL LOGGERHEADS DECEMBER NIGHT NEW YEAR'S EVE NEW YEAR'S NIGHT VALENTINE'S NIGHT BIRTH NIGHT RABBIT SNARED IN THE NIGHT PARADISE RE-ENTERED SPRING MORNING WEDLOCK HISTORY SONG OF A MAN WHO HAS COME THROUGH ONE WOMAN TO ALL WOMEN PEOPLE STREET LAMPS "SHE SAID AS WELL TO ME" NEW HEAVEN AND EARTH ELYSIUM MANIFESTO AUTUMN RAIN FROST FLOWERS CRAVING FOR SPRING
After much struggling and loss in love and in the world of man, the protagonist throws in his lot with a woman who is already married. Together they go into another country, she perforce leaving her children behind. The conflict of love and hate goes on between the man and the woman, and between these two and the world around them, till it reaches some sort of conclusion, they transcend into some condition of blessedness
AND who has seen the moon, who has not seen Her rise from out the chamber of the deep, Flushed and grand and naked, as from the chamber Of finished bridegroom, seen her rise and throw Confession of delight upon the wave, Littering the waves with her own superscription Of bliss, till all her lambent beauty shakes towards us Spread out and known at last, and we are sure That beauty is a thing beyond the grave, That perfect, bright experience never falls To nothingness, and time will dim the moon Sooner than our full consummation here In this odd life will tarnish or pass away.
THE sun immense and rosy Must have sunk and become extinct The night you closed your eyes for ever against me.
Grey days, and wan, dree dawnings Since then, with fritter of flowers— Day wearies me with its ostentation and fawnings.
Still, you left me the nights, The great dark glittery window, The bubble hemming this empty existence with lights.
Still in the vast hollow Like a breath in a bubble spinning Brushing the stars, goes my soul, that skims the bounds like a swallow!
I can look through The film of the bubble night, to where you are. Through the film I can almost touch you.
THE stars that open and shut Fall on my shallow breast Like stars on a pool.
The soft wind, blowing cool Laps little crest after crest Of ripples across my breast.
And dark grass under my feet Seems to dabble in me Like grass in a brook.
Oh, and it is sweet To be all these things, not to be Any more myself.
For look, I am weary of myself!
MARTYR A LA MODE
AH God, life, law, so many names you keep, You great, you patient Effort, and you Sleep That does inform this various dream of living, You sleep stretched out for ever, ever giving Us out as dreams, you august Sleep Coursed round by rhythmic movement of all time,
The constellations, your great heart, the sun Fierily pulsing, unable to refrain; Since you, vast, outstretched, wordless Sleep Permit of no beyond, ah you, whose dreams We are, and body of sleep, let it never be said I quailed at my appointed function, turned poltroon
For when at night, from out the full surcharge Of a day's experience, sleep does slowly draw The harvest, the spent action to itself; Leaves me unburdened to begin again; At night, I say, when I am gone in sleep, Does my slow heart rebel, do my dead hands Complain of what the day has had them do?
Never let it be said I was poltroon At this my task of living, this my dream, This me which rises from the dark of sleep In white flesh robed to drape another dream, As lightning comes all white and trembling From out the cloud of sleep, looks round about One moment, sees, and swift its dream is over, In one rich drip it sinks to another sleep, And sleep thereby is one more dream enrichened.
If so the Vast, the God, the Sleep that still grows richer Have said that I, this mote in the body of sleep Must in my transiency pass all through pain, Must be a dream of grief, must like a crude Dull meteorite flash only into light When tearing through the anguish of this life, Still in full flight extinct, shall I then turn Poltroon, and beg the silent, outspread God To alter my one speck of doom, when round me burns The whole great conflagration of all life, Lapped like a body close upon a sleep, Hiding and covering in the eternal Sleep Within the immense and toilsome life-time, heaved With ache of dreams that body forth the Sleep?
Shall I, less than the least red grain of flesh Within my body, cry out to the dreaming soul That slowly labours in a vast travail, To halt the heart, divert the streaming flow That carries moons along, and spare the stress That crushes me to an unseen atom of fire?
When pain and all And grief are but the same last wonder, Sleep Rising to dream in me a small keen dream Of sudden anguish, sudden over and spent—
IT is Isis the mystery Must be in love with me.
Here this round ball of earth Where all the mountains sit Solemn in groups, And the bright rivers flit Round them for girth.
Here the trees and troops Darken the shining grass, And many people pass Plundered from heaven, Many bright people pass, Plunder from heaven.
What of the mistresses What the beloved seven? —They were but witnesses, I was just driven.
Where is there peace for me? Isis the mystery Must be in love with me.
You, you are all unloving, loveless, you; Restless and lonely, shaken by your own moods, You are celibate and single, scorning a comrade even, Threshing your own passions with no woman for the threshing-floor, Finishing your dreams for your own sake only, Playing your great game around the world, alone, Without playmate, or helpmate, having no one to cherish, No one to comfort, and refusing any comforter.
Not like the earth, the spouse all full of increase Moiled over with the rearing of her many-mouthed young; You are single, you are fruitless, phosphorescent, cold and callous, Naked of worship, of love or of adornment, Scorning the panacea even of labour, Sworn to a high and splendid purposelessness Of brooding and delighting in the secret of life's goings, Sea, only you are free, sophisticated.
You who toil not, you who spin not, Surely but for you and your like, toiling Were not worth while, nor spinning worth the effort!
You who take the moon as in a sieve, and sift Her flake by flake and spread her meaning out; You who roll the stars like jewels in your palm, So that they seem to utter themselves aloud; You who steep from out the days their colour, Reveal the universal tint that dyes Their web; who shadow the sun's great gestures and expressions So that he seems a stranger in his passing; Who voice the dumb night fittingly; Sea, you shadow of all things, now mock us to death with your shadowing.
HYMN TO PRIAPUS
MY love lies underground With her face upturned to mine, And her mouth unclosed in a last long kiss That ended her life and mine.
I dance at the Christmas party Under the mistletoe Along with a ripe, slack country lass Jostling to and fro.
The big, soft country lass, Like a loose sheaf of wheat Slipped through my arms on the threshing floor At my feet.
The warm, soft country lass, Sweet as an armful of wheat At threshing-time broken, was broken For me, and ah, it was sweet!
Now I am going home Fulfilled and alone, I see the great Orion standing Looking down.
He's the star of my first beloved Love-making. The witness of all that bitter-sweet Heart-aching.
Now he sees this as well, This last commission. Nor do I get any look Of admonition.
He can add the reckoning up I suppose, between now and then, Having walked himself in the thorny, difficult Ways of men.
He has done as I have done No doubt: Remembered and forgotten Turn and about.
My love lies underground With her face upturned to mine, And her mouth unclosed in the last long kiss That ended her life and mine.
She fares in the stark immortal Fields of death; I in these goodly, frozen Fields beneath.
Something in me remembers And will not forget. The stream of my life in the darkness Deathward set!
And something in me has forgotten, Has ceased to care. Desire comes up, and contentment Is debonair.
I, who am worn and careful, How much do I care? How is it I grin then, and chuckle Over despair?
Grief, grief, I suppose and sufficient Grief makes us free To be faithless and faithful together As we have to be.
BALLAD OF A WILFUL WOMAN
UPON her plodding palfrey With a heavy child at her breast And Joseph holding the bridle They mount to the last hill-crest.
Dissatisfied and weary She sees the blade of the sea Dividing earth and heaven In a glitter of ecstasy.
Sudden a dark-faced stranger With his back to the sun, holds out His arms; so she lights from her palfrey And turns her round about.
She has given the child to Joseph, Gone down to the flashing shore; And Joseph, shading his eyes with his hand, Stands watching evermore.
THE sea in the stones is singing, A woman binds her hair With yellow, frail sea-poppies, That shine as her fingers stir.
While a naked man comes swiftly Like a spurt of white foam rent From the crest of a falling breaker, Over the poppies sent.
He puts his surf-wet fingers Over her startled eyes, And asks if she sees the land, the land, The land of her glad surmise.
AGAIN in her blue, blue mantle Riding at Joseph's side, She says, "I went to Cythera, And woe betide!"
Her heart is a swinging cradle That holds the perfect child, But the shade on her forehead ill becomes A mother mild.
So on with the slow, mean journey In the pride of humility; Till they halt at a cliff on the edge of the land Over a sullen sea.
While Joseph pitches the sleep-tent She goes far down to the shore To where a man in a heaving boat Waits with a lifted oar.
THEY dwelt in a huge, hoarse sea-cave And looked far down the dark Where an archway torn and glittering Shone like a huge sea-spark.
He said: "Do you see the spirits Crowding the bright doorway?" He said: "Do you hear them whispering?" He said: "Do you catch what they say?"
THEN Joseph, grey with waiting, His dark eyes full of pain, Heard: "I have been to Patmos; Give me the child again."
Now on with the hopeless journey Looking bleak ahead she rode, And the man and the child of no more account Than the earth the palfrey trode.
Till a beggar spoke to Joseph, But looked into her eyes; So she turned, and said to her husband: "I give, whoever denies."
SHE gave on the open heather Beneath bare judgment stars, And she dreamed of her children and Joseph, And the isles, and her men, and her scars.
And she woke to distil the berries The beggar had gathered at night, Whence he drew the curious liquors He held in delight.
He gave her no crown of flowers, No child and no palfrey slow, Only led her through harsh, hard places Where strange winds blow.
She follows his restless wanderings Till night when, by the fire's red stain, Her face is bent in the bitter steam That comes from the flowers of pain.
Then merciless and ruthless He takes the flame-wild drops To the town, and tries to sell them With the market-crops.
So she follows the cruel journey That ends not anywhere, And dreams, as she stirs the mixing-pot, She is brewing hope from despair.
THE night was a failure but why not—?
In the darkness with the pale dawn seething at the window through the black frame I could not be free, not free myself from the past, those others— and our love was a confusion, there was a horror, you recoiled away from me.
Now, in the morning As we sit in the sunshine on the seat by the little shrine, And look at the mountain-walls, Walls of blue shadow, And see so near at our feet in the meadow Myriads of dandelion pappus Bubbles ravelled in the dark green grass Held still beneath the sunshine—
It is enough, you are near— The mountains are balanced, The dandelion seeds stay half-submerged in the grass; You and I together We hold them proud and blithe On our love. They stand upright on our love, Everything starts from us, We are the source.
"AND OH— THAT THE MAN I AM MIGHT CEASE TO BE—"
No, now I wish the sunshine would stop, and the white shining houses, and the gay red flowers on the balconies and the bluish mountains beyond, would be crushed out between two valves of darkness; the darkness falling, the darkness rising, with muffled sound obliterating everything.
I wish that whatever props up the walls of light would fall, and darkness would come hurling heavily down, and it would be thick black dark for ever. Not sleep, which is grey with dreams, nor death, which quivers with birth, but heavy, sealing darkness, silence, all immovable.
What is sleep? It goes over me, like a shadow over a hill, but it does not alter me, nor help me. And death would ache still, I am sure; it would be lambent, uneasy. I wish it would be completely dark everywhere, inside me, and out, heavily dark utterly.
SHE LOOKS BACK
THE pale bubbles The lovely pale-gold bubbles of the globe-flowers In a great swarm clotted and single Went rolling in the dusk towards the river To where the sunset hung its wan gold cloths; And you stood alone, watching them go, And that mother-love like a demon drew you from me Towards England.
Along the road, after nightfall, Along the glamorous birch-tree avenue Across the river levels We went in silence, and you staring to England.
So then there shone within the jungle darkness Of the long, lush under-grass, a glow-worm's sudden Green lantern of pure light, a little, intense, fusing triumph, White and haloed with fire-mist, down in the tangled darkness.
Then you put your hand in mine again, kissed me, and we struggled to be together. And the little electric flashes went with us, in the grass, Tiny lighthouses, little souls of lanterns, courage burst into an explosion of green light Everywhere down in the grass, where darkness was ravelled in darkness.
Still, the kiss was a touch of bitterness on my mouth Like salt, burning in. And my hand withered in your hand. For you were straining with a wild heart, back, back again, Back to those children you had left behind, to all the aeons of the past. And I was here in the under-dusk of the Isar.
At home, we leaned in the bedroom window Of the old Bavarian Gasthaus, And the frogs in the pool beyond thrilled with exuberance, Like a boiling pot the pond crackled with happiness, Like a rattle a child spins round for joy, the night rattled With the extravagance of the frogs, And you leaned your cheek on mine, And I suffered it, wanting to sympathise.
At last, as you stood, your white gown falling from your breasts, You looked into my eyes, and said: "But this is joy!" I acquiesced again. But the shadow of lying was in your eyes, The mother in you, fierce as a murderess, glaring to England, Yearning towards England, towards your young children, Insisting upon your motherhood, devastating.
Still, the joy was there also, you spoke truly, The joy was not to be driven off so easily; Stronger than fear or destructive mother-love, it stood flickering; The frogs helped also, whirring away. Yet how I have learned to know that look in your eyes Of horrid sorrow! How I know that glitter of salt, dry, sterile, sharp, corrosive salt! Not tears, but white sharp brine Making hideous your eyes.
I have seen it, felt it in my mouth, my throat, my chest, my belly, Burning of powerful salt, burning, eating through my defenceless nakedness. I have been thrust into white, sharp crystals, Writhing, twisting, superpenetrated.
Ah, Lot's Wife, Lot's Wife! The pillar of salt, the whirling, horrible column of salt, like a waterspout That has enveloped me! Snow of salt, white, burning, eating salt In which I have writhed.
Lot's Wife!—Not Wife, but Mother. I have learned to curse your motherhood, You pillar of salt accursed. I have cursed motherhood because of you, Accursed, base motherhood!
I long for the time to come, when the curse against you will have gone out of my heart. But it has not gone yet. Nevertheless, once, the frogs, the globe-flowers of Bavaria, the glow-worms Gave me sweet lymph against the salt-burns, There is a kindness in the very rain.
Therefore, even in the hour of my deepest, pas- sionate malediction I try to remember it is also well between us. That you are with me in the end. That you never look quite back; nine-tenths, ah, more You look round over your shoulder; But never quite back.
Nevertheless the curse against you is still in my heart Like a deep, deep burn. The curse against all mothers. All mothers who fortify themselves in motherhood, devastating the vision. They are accursed, and the curse is not taken off It burns within me like a deep, old burn, And oh, I wish it was better.
ON THE BALCONY
IN front of the sombre mountains, a faint, lost ribbon of rainbow; And between us and it, the thunder; And down below in the green wheat, the labourers Stand like dark stumps, still in the green wheat.
You are near to me, and your naked feet in their sandals, And through the scent of the balcony's naked timber I distinguish the scent of your hair: so now the limber Lightning falls from heaven.
Adown the pale-green glacier river floats A dark boat through the gloom—and whither? The thunder roars. But still we have each other! The naked lightnings in the heavens dither And disappear—what have we but each other? The boat has gone.
You have come your way, I have come my way; You have stepped across your people, carelessly, hurting them all; I have stepped across my people, and hurt them in spite of my care.
But steadily, surely, and notwithstanding We have come our ways and met at last Here in this upper room.
Here the balcony Overhangs the street where the bullock-wagons slowly Go by with their loads of green and silver birch- trees For the feast of Corpus Christi.
Here from the balcony We look over the growing wheat, where the jade- green river Goes between the pine-woods, Over and beyond to where the many mountains Stand in their blueness, flashing with snow and the morning.
I have done; a quiver of exultation goes through me, like the first Breeze of the morning through a narrow white birch. You glow at last like the mountain tops when they catch Day and make magic in heaven.
At last I can throw away world without end, and meet you Unsheathed and naked and narrow and white; At last you can throw immortality off, and I see you Glistening with all the moment and all your beauty.
Shameless and callous I love you; Out of indifference I love you; Out of mockery we dance together, Out of the sunshine into the shadow, Passing across the shadow into the sunlight, Out of sunlight to shadow.
As we dance Your eyes take all of me in as a communication; As we dance I see you, ah, in full! Only to dance together in triumph of being together Two white ones, sharp, vindicated, Shining and touching, Is heaven of our own, sheer with repudiation.
IN THE DARK
A BLOTCH of pallor stirs beneath the high Square picture-dusk, the window of dark sky.
A sound subdued in the darkness: tears! As if a bird in difficulty up the valley steers.
"Why have you gone to the window? Why don't you sleep? How you have wakened me! But why, why do you weep?"
"I am afraid of you, I am afraid, afraid! There is something in you destroys me—!"
"You have dreamed and are not awake, come here to me." "No, I have wakened. It is you, you are cruel to me!"
"My dear!"—"Yes, yes, you are cruel to me. You cast A shadow over my breasts that will kill me at last."
"Come!"—"No, I'm a thing of life. I give You armfuls of sunshine, and you won't let me live."
"Nay, I'm too sleepy!"—"Ah, you are horrible; You stand before me like ghosts, like a darkness upright."
"I!"—"How can you treat me so, and love me? My feet have no hold, you take the sky from above me."
"My dear, the night is soft and eternal, no doubt You love it!"—"It is dark, it kills me, I am put out."
"My dear, when you cross the street in the sun- shine, surely Your own small night goes with you. Why treat it so poorly?"
"No, no, I dance in the sun, I'm a thing of life—" "Even then it is dark behind you. Turn round, my wife."
"No, how cruel you are, you people the sunshine With shadows!"—"With yours I people the sunshine, yours and mine—"
"In the darkness we all are gone, we are gone with the trees And the restless river;—we are lost and gone with all these."
"But I am myself, I have nothing to do with these." "Come back to bed, let us sleep on our mys- teries.
"Come to me here, and lay your body by mine, And I will be all the shadow, you the shine.
"Come, you are cold, the night has frightened you. Hark at the river! It pants as it hurries through
"The pine-woods. How I love them so, in their mystery of not-to-be." "—But let me be myself, not a river or a tree."
"Kiss me! How cold you are!—Your little breasts Are bubbles of ice. Kiss me!—You know how it rests
"One to be quenched, to be given up, to be gone in the dark; To be blown out, to let night dowse the spark.
"But never mind, my love. Nothing matters, save sleep; Save you, and me, and sleep; all the rest will keep."
A THICK mist-sheet lies over the broken wheat. I walk up to my neck in mist, holding my mouth up. Across there, a discoloured moon burns itself out.
I hold the night in horror; I dare not turn round.
To-night I have left her alone. They would have it I have left her for ever.
Oh my God, how it aches Where she is cut off from me!
Perhaps she will go back to England. Perhaps she will go back, Perhaps we are parted for ever.
If I go on walking through the whole breadth of Germany I come to the North Sea, or the Baltic.
Over there is Russia—Austria, Switzerland, France, in a circle! I here in the undermist on the Bavarian road.
It aches in me. What is England or France, far off, But a name she might take? I don't mind this continent stretching, the sea far away; It aches in me for her Like the agony of limbs cut off and aching; Not even longing, It is only agony.
A cripple! Oh God, to be mutilated! To be a cripple!
And if I never see her again?
I think, if they told me so I could convulse the heavens with my horror. I think I could alter the frame of things in my agony. I think I could break the System with my heart. I think, in my convulsion, the skies would break.
She too suffers. But who could compel her, if she chose me against them all? She has not chosen me finally, she suspends her choice. Night folk, Tuatha De Danaan, dark Gods, govern her sleep, Magnificent ghosts of the darkness, carry off her decision in sleep, Leave her no choice, make her lapse me-ward, make her, Oh Gods of the living Darkness, powers of Night.
I HAVE been so innerly proud, and so long alone, Do not leave me, or I shall break. Do not leave me.
What should I do if you were gone again So soon? What should I look for? Where should I go? What should I be, I myself, "I"? What would it mean, this I?
Do not leave me.
What should I think of death? If I died, it would not be you: It would be simply the same Lack of you. The same want, life or death, Unfulfilment, The same insanity of space You not there for me.
Think, I daren't die For fear of the lack in death. And I daren't live.
Unless there were a morphine or a drug.
I would bear the pain. But always, strong, unremitting It would make me not me. The thing with my body that would go on living Would not be me. Neither life nor death could help.
Think, I couldn't look towards death Nor towards the future: Only not look. Only myself Stand still and bind and blind myself.
God, that I have no choice! That my own fulfilment is up against me Timelessly! The burden of self-accomplishment! The charge of fulfilment! And God, that she is necessary! Necessary, and I have no choice!
Do not leave me.
A YOUNG WIFE
THE pain of loving you Is almost more than I can bear.
I walk in fear of you. The darkness starts up where You stand, and the night comes through Your eyes when you look at me.
Ah never before did I see The shadows that live in the sun!
Now every tall glad tree Turns round its back to the sun And looks down on the ground, to see The shadow it used to shun.
At the foot of each glowing thing A night lies looking up.
Oh, and I want to sing And dance, but I can't lift up My eyes from the shadows: dark They lie spilt round the cup.
What is it?—Hark The faint fine seethe in the air!
Like the seething sound in a shell! It is death still seething where The wild-flower shakes its bell And the sky lark twinkles blue—
The pain of loving you Is almost more than I can bear.
THE dawn was apple-green, The sky was green wine held up in the sun, The moon was a golden petal between.
She opened her eyes, and green They shone, clear like flowers undone For the first time, now for the first time seen.
BY the Isar, in the twilight We were wandering and singing, By the Isar, in the evening We climbed the huntsman's ladder and sat swinging In the fir-tree overlooking the marshes, While river met with river, and the ringing Of their pale-green glacier water filled the evening.
By the Isar, in the twilight We found the dark wild roses Hanging red at the river; and simmering Frogs were singing, and over the river closes Was savour of ice and of roses; and glimmering Fear was abroad. We whispered: "No one knows us. Let it be as the snake disposes Here in this simmering marsh."
GLOIRE DE DIJON
WHEN she rises in the morning I linger to watch her; She spreads the bath-cloth underneath the window And the sunbeams catch her Glistening white on the shoulders, While down her sides the mellow Golden shadow glows as She stoops to the sponge, and her swung breasts Sway like full-blown yellow Gloire de Dijon roses.
She drips herself with water, and her shoulders Glisten as silver, they crumple up Like wet and falling roses, and I listen For the sluicing of their rain-dishevelled petals. In the window full of sunlight Concentrates her golden shadow Fold on fold, until it glows as Mellow as the glory roses.
ROSES ON THE BREAKFAST TABLE
JUST a few of the roses we gathered from the Isar Are fallen, and their mauve-red petals on the cloth Float like boats on a river, while other Roses are ready to fall, reluctant and loth.
She laughs at me across the table, saying I am beautiful. I look at the rumpled young roses And suddenly realise, in them as in me, How lovely the present is that this day discloses.
I AM LIKE A ROSE
I AM myself at last; now I achieve My very self. I, with the wonder mellow, Full of fine warmth, I issue forth in clear And single me, perfected from my fellow.
Here I am all myself. No rose-bush heaving Its limpid sap to culmination, has brought Itself more sheer and naked out of the green In stark-clear roses, than I to myself am brought.
ROSE OF ALL THE WORLD
I AM here myself; as though this heave of effort At starting other life, fulfilled my own: Rose-leaves that whirl in colour round a core Of seed-specks kindled lately and softly blown
By all the blood of the rose-bush into being— Strange, that the urgent will in me, to set My mouth on hers in kisses, and so softly To bring together two strange sparks, beget
Another life from our lives, so should send The innermost fire of my own dim soul out- spinning And whirling in blossom of flame and being upon me! That my completion of manhood should be the beginning
Another life from mine! For so it looks. The seed is purpose, blossom accident. The seed is all in all, the blossom lent To crown the triumph of this new descent.
Is that it, woman? Does it strike you so? The Great Breath blowing a tiny seed of fire Fans out your petals for excess of flame, Till all your being smokes with fine desire?
Or are we kindled, you and I, to be One rose of wonderment upon the tree Of perfect life, and is our possible seed But the residuum of the ecstasy?
How will you have it?—the rose is all in all, Or the ripe rose-fruits of the luscious fall? The sharp begetting, or the child begot? Our consummation matters, or does it not?
To me it seems the seed is just left over From the red rose-flowers' fiery transience; Just orts and slarts; berries that smoulder in the bush Which burnt just now with marvellous immanence.
Blossom, my darling, blossom, be a rose Of roses unchidden and purposeless; a rose For rosiness only, without an ulterior motive; For me it is more than enough if the flower un- close.
A YOUTH MOWING
THERE are four men mowing down by the Isar; I can hear the swish of the scythe-strokes, four Sharp breaths taken: yea, and I Am sorry for what's in store.
The first man out of the four that's mowing Is mine, I claim him once and for all; Though it's sorry I am, on his young feet, knowing None of the trouble he's led to stall.
As he sees me bringing the dinner, he lifts His head as proud as a deer that looks Shoulder-deep out of the corn; and wipes His scythe-blade bright, unhooks
The scythe-stone and over the stubble to me. Lad, thou hast gotten a child in me, Laddie, a man thou'lt ha'e to be, Yea, though I'm sorry for thee.
WHAT pain, to wake and miss you! To wake with a tightened heart, And mouth reaching forward to kiss you!
This then at last is the dawn, and the bell Clanging at the farm! Such bewilderment Comes with the sight of the room, I cannot tell.
It is raining. Down the half-obscure road Four labourers pass with their scythes Dejectedly;—a huntsman goes by with his load:
A gun, and a bunched-up deer, its four little feet Clustered dead.—And this is the dawn For which I wanted the night to retreat!
FORSAKEN AND FORLORN
THE house is silent, it is late at night, I am alone. From the balcony I can hear the Isar moan, Can see the white Rift of the river eerily, between the pines, under a sky of stone.
Some fireflies drift through the middle air Tinily. I wonder where Ends this darkness that annihilates me.
FIREFLIES IN THE CORN
She speaks. Look at the little darlings in the corn! The rye is taller than you, who think yourself So high and mighty: look how the heads are borne Dark and proud on the sky, like a number of knights Passing with spears and pennants and manly scorn.
Knights indeed!—much knight I know will ride With his head held high-serene against the sky! Limping and following rather at my side Moaning for me to love him!—Oh darling rye How I adore you for your simple pride!
And the dear, dear fireflies wafting in between And over the swaying corn-stalks, just above All the dark-feathered helmets, like little green Stars come low and wandering here for love Of these dark knights, shedding their delicate sheen!
I thank you I do, you happy creatures, you dears Riding the air, and carrying all the time Your little lanterns behind you! Ah, it cheers My soul to see you settling and trying to climb The corn-stalks, tipping with fire the spears.
All over the dim corn's motion, against the blue Dark sky of night, a wandering glitter, a swarm Of questing brilliant souls going out with their true Proud knights to battle! Sweet, how I warm My poor, my perished soul with the sight of you!
A DOE AT EVENING
As I went through the marshes a doe sprang out of the corn and flashed up the hill-side leaving her fawn.
On the sky-line she moved round to watch, she pricked a fine black blotch on the sky.
I looked at her and felt her watching; I became a strange being. Still, I had my right to be there with her,
Her nimble shadow trotting along the sky-line, she put back her fine, level-balanced head. And I knew her.
Ah yes, being male, is not my head hard-balanced, antlered? Are not my haunches light? Has she not fled on the same wind with me? Does not my fear cover her fear?
SONG OF A MAN WHO IS NOT LOVED
THE space of the world is immense, before me and around me; If I turn quickly, I am terrified, feeling space surround me; Like a man in a boat on very clear, deep water, space frightens and confounds me.
I see myself isolated in the universe, and wonder What effect I can have. My hands wave under The heavens like specks of dust that are floating asunder.
I hold myself up, and feel a big wind blowing Me like a gadfly into the dusk, without my know- ing Whither or why or even how I am going.
So much there is outside me, so infinitely Small am I, what matter if minutely I beat my way, to be lost immediately?
How shall I flatter myself that I can do Anything in such immensity? I am too Little to count in the wind that drifts me through.
THE big mountains sit still in the afternoon light Shadows in their lap; The bees roll round in the wild-thyme with de- light.
We sitting here among the cranberries So still in the gap Of rock, distilling our memories
Are sinners! Strange! The bee that blunders Against me goes off with a laugh. A squirrel cocks his head on the fence, and wonders
What about sin?—For, it seems The mountains have No shadow of us on their snowy forehead of dreams
As they ought to have. They rise above us Dreaming For ever. One even might think that they love us.
Little red cranberries cheek to cheek, Two great dragon-flies wrestling; You, with your forehead nestling Against me, and bright peak shining to peak—
There's a love-song for you!—Ah, if only There were no teeming Swarms of mankind in the world, and we were less lonely!
OUT of this oubliette between the mountains five valleys go, five passes like gates; three of them black in shadow, two of them bright with distant sunshine; and sunshine fills one high valley bed, green grass shining, and little white houses like quartz crystals, little, but distinct a way off.
Why don't I go? Why do I crawl about this pot, this oubliette, stupidly? Why don't I go?
But where? If I come to a pine-wood, I can't say Now I am arrived! What are so many straight trees to me!
SUNDAY AFTERNOON IN ITALY
THE man and the maid go side by side With an interval of space between; And his hands are awkward and want to hide, She braves it out since she must be seen.
When some one passes he drops his head Shading his face in his black felt hat, While the hard girl hardens; nothing is said, There is nothing to wonder or cavil at.
Alone on the open road again With the mountain snows across the lake Flushing the afternoon, they are uncomfortable, The loneliness daunts them, their stiff throats ache.
And he sighs with relief when she parts from him; Her proud head held in its black silk scarf Gone under the archway, home, he can join The men that lounge in a group on the wharf.
His evening is a flame of wine Among the eager, cordial men. And she with her women hot and hard Moves at her ease again.
_She is marked, she is singled out For the fire: The brand is upon him, look—you, Of desire.
They are chosen, ah, they are fated For the fight! Champion her, all you women! Men, menfolk Hold him your light!
Nourish her, train her, harden her Women all! Fold him, be good to him, cherish him Men, ere he fall.
Women, another champion! This, men, is yours! Wreathe and enlap and anoint them Behind separate doors._
GREEN star Sirius Dribbling over the lake; The stars have gone so far on their road, Yet we're awake!
Without a sound The new young year comes in And is half-way over the lake. We must begin
Again. This love so full Of hate has hurt us so, We lie side by side Moored—but no,
Let me get up And wash quite clean Of this hate.— So green
The great star goes! I am washed quite clean, Quite clean of it all. But e'en
So cold, so cold and clean Now the hate is gone! It is all no good, I am chilled to the bone
Now the hate is gone; There is nothing left; I am pure like bone, Of all feeling bereft.
A BAD BEGINNING
THE yellow sun steps over the mountain-top And falters a few short steps across the lake— Are you awake?
See, glittering on the milk-blue, morning lake They are laying the golden racing-track of the sun; The day has begun.
The sun is in my eyes, I must get up. I want to go, there's a gold road blazes before My breast—which is so sore.
What?—your throat is bruised, bruised with my kisses? Ah, but if I am cruel what then are you? I am bruised right through.
What if I love you!—This misery Of your dissatisfaction and misprision Stupefies me.
Ah yes, your open arms! Ah yes, ah yes, You would take me to your breast!—But no, You should come to mine, It were better so.
Here I am—get up and come to me! Not as a visitor either, nor a sweet And winsome child of innocence; nor As an insolent mistress telling my pulse's beat.
Come to me like a woman coming home To the man who is her husband, all the rest Subordinate to this, that he and she Are joined together for ever, as is best.
Behind me on the lake I hear the steamer drum- ming From Austria. There lies the world, and here Am I. Which way are you coming?
WHY DOES SHE WEEP?
HUSH then why do you cry? It's you and me the same as before.
If you hear a rustle it's only a rabbit gone back to his hole in a bustle.
If something stirs in the branches overhead, it will be a squirrel moving uneasily, disturbed by the stress of our loving.
Why should you cry then? Are you afraid of God in the dark?
I'm not afraid of God. Let him come forth. If he is hiding in the cover let him come forth.
Now in the cool of the day it is we who walk in the trees and call to God "Where art thou?" And it is he who hides.
Why do you cry? My heart is bitter. Let God come forth to justify himself now.
Why do you cry? Is it Wehmut, ist dir weh? Weep then, yea for the abomination of our old righteousness,
We have done wrong many times; but this time we begin to do right.
Weep then, weep for the abomination of our past righteousness. God will keep hidden, he won't come forth.
GIORNO DEI MORTI
ALONG the avenue of cypresses All in their scarlet cloaks, and surplices Of linen go the chanting choristers, The priests in gold and black, the villagers. . . .
And all along the path to the cemetery The round dark heads of men crowd silently, And black-scarved faces of women-folk, wistfully Watch at the banner of death, and the mystery.
And at the foot of a grave a father stands With sunken head, and forgotten, folded hands; And at the foot of a grave a mother kneels With pale shut face, nor either hears nor feels
The coming of the chanting choristers Between the avenue of cypresses, The silence of the many villagers, The candle-flames beside the surplices.
THEY are chanting now the service of All the Dead And the village folk outside in the burying ground Listen—except those who strive with their dead, Reaching out in anguish, yet unable quite to touch them: Those villagers isolated at the grave Where the candles burn in the daylight, and the painted wreaths Are propped on end, there, where the mystery starts.
The naked candles burn on every grave. On your grave, in England, the weeds grow.
But I am your naked candle burning, And that is not your grave, in England, The world is your grave. And my naked body standing on your grave Upright towards heaven is burning off to you Its flame of life, now and always, till the end.
It is my offering to you; every day is All Souls' Day.
I forget you, have forgotten you. I am busy only at my burning, I am busy only at my life. But my feet are on your grave, planted. And when I lift my face, it is a flame that goes up To the other world, where you are now. But I am not concerned with you. I have forgotten you.
I am a naked candle burning on your grave.
AH yes, I know you well, a sojourner At the hearth; I know right well the marriage ring you wear, And what it's worth.
The angels came to Abraham, and they stayed In his house awhile; So you to mine, I imagine; yes, happily Condescend to be vile.
I see you all the time, you bird-blithe, lovely Angel in disguise. I see right well how I ought to be grateful, Smitten with reverent surprise.
Listen, I have no use For so rare a visit; Mine is a common devil's Requisite.
Rise up and go, I have no use for you And your blithe, glad mien. No angels here, for me no goddesses, Nor any Queen.
Put ashes on your head, put sackcloth on And learn to serve. You have fed me with your sweetness, now I am sick, As I deserve.
Queens, ladies, angels, women rare, I have had enough. Put sackcloth on, be crowned with powdery ash, Be common stuff.
And serve now woman, serve, as a woman should, Implicitly. Since I must serve and struggle with the imminent Mystery.
Serve then, I tell you, add your strength to mine Take on this doom. What are you by yourself, do you think, and what The mere fruit of your womb?
What is the fruit of your womb then, you mother, you queen, When it falls to the ground? Is it more than the apples of Sodom you scorn so, the men Who abound?
Bring forth the sons of your womb then, and put them Into the fire Of Sodom that covers the earth; bring them forth From the womb of your precious desire.
You woman most holy, you mother, you being beyond Question or diminution, Add yourself up, and your seed, to the nought Of your last solution.
BOTH SIDES OF THE MEDAL
AND because you love me think you you do not hate me? Ha, since you love me to ecstasy it follows you hate me to ecstasy.
Because when you hear me go down the road outside the house you must come to the window to watch me go, do you think it is pure worship?
Because, when I sit in the room, here, in my own house, and you want to enlarge yourself with this friend of mine, such a friend as he is, yet you cannot get beyond your awareness of me you are held back by my being in the same world with you, do you think it is bliss alone? sheer harmony?
No doubt if I were dead, you must reach into death after me, but would not your hate reach even more madly than your love? your impassioned, unfinished hate?
Since you have a passion for me, as I for you, does not that passion stand in your way like a Balaam's ass? and am I not Balaam's ass golden-mouthed occasionally? But mostly, do you not detest my bray?
Since you are confined in the orbit of me do you not loathe the confinement? Is not even the beauty and peace of an orbit an intolerable prison to you, as it is to everybody?
But we will learn to submit each of us to the balanced, eternal orbit wherein we circle on our fate in strange conjunction.
What is chaos, my love? It is not freedom. A disarray of falling stars coming to nought.
PLEASE yourself how you have it. Take my words, and fling Them down on the counter roundly; See if they ring.
Sift my looks and expressions, And see what proportion there is Of sand in my doubtful sugar Of verities.
Have a real stock-taking Of my manly breast; Find out if I'm sound or bankrupt, Or a poor thing at best.
For I am quite indifferent To your dubious state, As to whether you've found a fortune In me, or a flea-bitten fate.
Make a good investigation Of all that is there, And then, if it's worth it, be grateful— If not then despair.
If despair is our portion Then let us despair. Let us make for the weeping willow. I don't care.
TAKE off your cloak and your hat And your shoes, and draw up at my hearth Where never woman sat.
I have made the fire up bright; Let us leave the rest in the dark And sit by firelight.
The wine is warm in the hearth; The flickers come and go. I will warm your feet with kisses Until they glow.
NEW YEAR'S EVE
THERE are only two things now, The great black night scooped out And this fire-glow.
This fire-glow, the core, And we the two ripe pips That are held in store.
Listen, the darkness rings As it circulates round our fire. Take off your things.
Your shoulders, your bruised throat Your breasts, your nakedness! This fiery coat!
As the darkness flickers and dips, As the firelight falls and leaps From your feet to your lips!
NEW YEAR'S NIGHT
Now you are mine, to-night at last I say it; You're a dove I have bought for sacrifice, And to-night I slay it.
Here in my arms my naked sacrifice! Death, do you hear, in my arms I am bringing My offering, bought at great price.
She's a silvery dove worth more than all I've got. Now I offer her up to the ancient, inexorable God, Who knows me not.
Look, she's a wonderful dove, without blemish or spot! I sacrifice all in her, my last of the world, Pride, strength, all the lot.
All, all on the altar! And death swooping down Like a falcon. 'Tis God has taken the victim; I have won my renown.
You shadow and flame, You interchange, You death in the game!
Now I gather you up, Now I put you back Like a poppy in its cup.
And so, you are a maid Again, my darling, but new, Unafraid.
My love, my blossom, a child Almost! The flower in the bud Again, undefiled.
And yet, a woman, knowing All, good, evil, both In one blossom blowing.
THIS fireglow is a red womb In the night, where you're folded up On your doom.
And the ugly, brutal years Are dissolving out of you, And the stagnant tears.
I the great vein that leads From the night to the source of you, Which the sweet blood feeds.
New phase in the germ of you; New sunny streams of blood Washing you through.
You are born again of me. I, Adam, from the veins of me The Eve that is to be.
What has been long ago Grows dimmer, we both forget, We no longer know.
You are lovely, your face is soft Like a flower in bud On a mountain croft.
This is Noel for me. To-night is a woman born Of the man in me.
RABBIT SNARED IN THE NIGHT
WHY do you spurt and sprottle like that, bunny? Why should I want to throttle you, bunny?
Yes, bunch yourself between my knees and lie still. Lie on me with a hot, plumb, live weight, heavy as a stone, passive, yet hot, waiting.
What are you waiting for? What are you waiting for? What is the hot, plumb weight of your desire on me? You have a hot, unthinkable desire of me, bunny.
What is that spark glittering at me on the unutterable darkness of your eye, bunny? The finest splinter of a spark that you throw off, straight on the tinder of my nerves!
It sets up a strange fire, a soft, most unwarrantable burning a bale-fire mounting, mounting up in me.
'Tis not of me, bunny. It was you engendered it, with that fine, demoniacal spark you jetted off your eye at me.
I did not want it, this furnace, this draught-maddened fire which mounts up my arms making them swell with turgid, ungovernable strength.
'Twas not I that wished it, that my fingers should turn into these flames avid and terrible that they are at this moment.
It must have been your inbreathing, gaping desire that drew this red gush in me; I must be reciprocating your vacuous, hideous passion.
It must be the want in you that has drawn this terrible draught of white fire up my veins as up a chimney.
It must be you who desire this intermingling of the black and monstrous fingers of Moloch in the blood-jets of your throat.
Come, you shall have your desire, since already I am implicated with you in your strange lust.
THROUGH the strait gate of passion, Between the bickering fire Where flames of fierce love tremble On the body of fierce desire:
To the intoxication, The mind, fused down like a bead, Flees in its agitation The flames' stiff speed:
At last to calm incandescence, Burned clean by remorseless hate, Now, at the day's renascence We approach the gate.
Now, from the darkened spaces Of fear, and of frightened faces, Death, in our awful embraces Approached and passed by;
We near the flame-burnt porches Where the brands of the angels, like torches Whirl,—in these perilous marches Pausing to sigh;
We look back on the withering roses, The stars, in their sun-dimmed closes, Where 'twas given us to repose us Sure on our sanctity;
Beautiful, candid lovers, Burnt out of our earthy covers, We might have nestled like plovers In the fields of eternity.
There, sure in sinless being, All-seen, and then all-seeing, In us life unto death agreeing, We might have lain.
But we storm the angel-guarded Gates of the long-discarded, Garden, which God has hoarded Against our pain.
The Lord of Hosts, and the Devil Are left on Eternity's level Field, and as victors we travel To Eden home.
Back beyond good and evil Return we. Eve dishevel Your hair for the bliss-drenched revel On our primal loam.
AH, through the open door Is there an almond tree Aflame with blossom! —Let us fight no more.
Among the pink and blue Of the sky and the almond flowers A sparrow flutters. —We have come through,
It is really spring!—See, When he thinks himself alone How he bullies the flowers. —Ah, you and me
How happy we'll be!—See him He clouts the tufts of flowers In his impudence. —But, did you dream
It would be so bitter? Never mind It is finished, the spring is here. And we're going to be summer-happy And summer-kind.
We have died, we have slain and been slain, We are not our old selves any more. I feel new and eager To start again.
It is gorgeous to live and forget. And to feel quite new. See the bird in the flowers?—he's making A rare to-do!
He thinks the whole blue sky Is much less than the bit of blue egg He's got in his nest—we'll be happy You and I, I and you.
With nothing to fight any more— In each other, at least. See, how gorgeous the world is Outside the door!
COME, my little one, closer up against me, Creep right up, with your round head pushed in my breast.
How I love all of you! Do you feel me wrap you Up with myself and my warmth, like a flame round the wick?
And how I am not at all, except a flame that mounts off you. Where I touch you, I flame into being;—but is it me, or you?
That round head pushed in my chest, like a nut in its socket, And I the swift bracts that sheathe it: those breasts, those thighs and knees,
Those shoulders so warm and smooth: I feel that I Am a sunlight upon them, that shines them into being.
But how lovely to be you! Creep closer in, that I am more. I spread over you! How lovely, your round head, your arms,
Your breasts, your knees and feet! I feel that we Are a bonfire of oneness, me flame flung leaping round you, You the core of the fire, crept into me.
AND oh, my little one, you whom I enfold, How quaveringly I depend on you, to keep me alive, Like a flame on a wick!
I, the man who enfolds you and holds you close, How my soul cleaves to your bosom as I clasp you, The very quick of my being!
Suppose you didn't want me! I should sink down Like a light that has no sustenance And sinks low.
Cherish me, my tiny one, cherish me who enfold you. Nourish me, and endue me, I am only of you, I am your issue.
How full and big like a robust, happy flame When I enfold you, and you creep into me, And my life is fierce at its quick Where it comes off you!
MY little one, my big one, My bird, my brown sparrow in my breast. My squirrel clutching in to me; My pigeon, my little one, so warm So close, breathing so still.
My little one, my big one, I, who am so fierce and strong, enfolding you, If you start away from my breast, and leave me, How suddenly I shall go down into nothing Like a flame that falls of a sudden.
And you will be before me, tall and towering, And I shall be wavering uncertain Like a sunken flame that grasps for support.
BUT now I am full and strong and certain With you there firm at the core of me Keeping me.
How sure I feel, how warm and strong and happy For the future! How sure the future is within me; I am like a seed with a perfect flower enclosed.
I wonder what it will be, What will come forth of us. What flower, my love?
No matter, I am so happy, I feel like a firm, rich, healthy root, Rejoicing in what is to come.
How I depend on you utterly My little one, my big one! How everything that will be, will not be of me, Nor of either of us, But of both of us.
AND think, there will something come forth from us. We two, folded so small together, There will something come forth from us. Children, acts, utterance Perhaps only happiness.
Perhaps only happiness will come forth from us. Old sorrow, and new happiness. Only that one newness.
But that is all I want. And I am sure of that. We are sure of that.
AND yet all the while you are you, you are not me. And I am I, I am never you. How awfully distinct and far off from each other's being we are!
Yet I am glad. I am so glad there is always you beyond my scope, Something that stands over, Something I shall never be, That I shall always wonder over, and wait for, Look for like the breath of life as long as I live, Still waiting for you, however old you are, and I am, I shall always wonder over you, and look for you.
And you will always be with me. I shall never cease to be filled with newness, Having you near me.
THE listless beauty of the hour When snow fell on the apple trees And the wood-ash gathered in the fire And we faced our first miseries.
Then the sweeping sunshine of noon When the mountains like chariot cars Were ranked to blue battle—and you and I Counted our scars.
And then in a strange, grey hour We lay mouth to mouth, with your face Under mine like a star on the lake, And I covered the earth, and all space.
The silent, drifting hours Of morn after morn And night drifting up to the night Yet no pathway worn.
Your life, and mine, my love Passing on and on, the hate Fusing closer and closer with love Till at length they mate.
SONG OF A MAN WHO HAS COME THROUGH
NOT I, not I, but the wind that blows through me! A fine wind is blowing the new direction of Time. If only I let it bear me, carry me, if only it carry me! If only I am sensitive, subtle, oh, delicate, a winged gift! If only, most lovely of all, I yield myself and am borrowed By the fine, fine wind that takes its course through the chaos of the world Like a fine, an exquisite chisel, a wedge-blade inserted; If only I am keen and hard like the sheer tip of a wedge Driven by invisible blows, The rock will split, we shall come at the wonder, we shall find the Hesperides.
Oh, for the wonder that bubbles into my soul, I would be a good fountain, a good well-head, Would blur no whisper, spoil no expression.
What is the knocking? What is the knocking at the door in the night? It is somebody wants to do us harm.
No, no, it is the three strange angels. Admit them, admit them.
ONE WOMAN TO ALL WOMEN
I DON'T care whether I am beautiful to you You other women. Nothing of me that you see is my own; A man balances, bone unto bone Balances, everything thrown In the scale, you other women.
You may look and say to yourselves, I do Not show like the rest. My face may not please you, nor my stature; yet if you knew How happy I am, how my heart in the wind rings true Like a bell that is chiming, each stroke as a stroke falls due, You other women:
You would draw your mirror towards you, you would wish To be different. There's the beauty you cannot see, myself and him Balanced in glorious equilibrium, The swinging beauty of equilibrium, You other women.
There's this other beauty, the way of the stars You straggling women. If you knew how I swerve in peace, in the equi- poise With the man, if you knew how my flesh enjoys The swinging bliss no shattering ever destroys You other women:
You would envy me, you would think me wonder- ful Beyond compare; You would weep to be lapsing on such harmony As carries me, you would wonder aloud that he Who is so strange should correspond with me Everywhere.
You see he is different, he is dangerous, Without pity or love. And yet how his separate being liberates me And gives me peace! You cannot see How the stars are moving in surety Exquisite, high above.
We move without knowing, we sleep, and we travel on, You other women. And this is beauty to me, to be lifted and gone In a motion human inhuman, two and one Encompassed, and many reduced to none, You other women.
THE great gold apples of night Hang from the street's long bough Dripping their light On the faces that drift below, On the faces that drift and blow Down the night-time, out of sight In the wind's sad sough.
The ripeness of these apples of night Distilling over me Makes sickening the white Ghost-flux of faces that hie Them endlessly, endlessly by Without meaning or reason why They ever should be.
GOLD, with an innermost speck Of silver, singing afloat Beneath the night, Like balls of thistle-down Wandering up and down Over the whispering town Seeking where to alight!
Slowly, above the street Above the ebb of feet Drifting in flight; Still, in the purple distance The gold of their strange persistence As they cross and part and meet And pass out of sight!
The seed-ball of the sun Is broken at last, and done Is the orb of day. Now to the separate ends Seed after day-seed wends A separate way.
No sun will ever rise Again on the wonted skies In the midst of the spheres. The globe of the day, over-ripe, Is shattered at last beneath the stripe Of the wind, and its oneness veers Out myriad-wise.
Seed after seed after seed Drifts over the town, in its need To sink and have done; To settle at last in the dark, To bury its weary spark Where the end is begun.
Darkness, and depth of sleep, Nothing to know or to weep Where the seed sinks in To the earth of the under-night Where all is silent, quite Still, and the darknesses steep Out all the sin.
"SHE SAID AS WELL TO ME"
SHE said as well to me: "Why are you ashamed? That little bit of your chest that shows between the gap of your shirt, why cover it up? Why shouldn't your legs and your good strong thighs be rough and hairy?—I'm glad they are like that. You are shy, you silly, you silly shy thing. Men are the shyest creatures, they never will come out of their covers. Like any snake slipping into its bed of dead leaves, you hurry into your clothes. And I love you so! Straight and clean and all of a piece is the body of a man, such an instrument, a spade, like a spear, or an oar, such a joy to me—" So she laid her hands and pressed them down my sides, so that I began to wonder over myself, and what I was.
She said to me: "What an instrument, your body! single and perfectly distinct from everything else! What a tool in the hands of the Lord! Only God could have brought it to its shape. It feels as if his handgrasp, wearing you had polished you and hollowed you, hollowed this groove in your sides, grasped you under the breasts and brought you to the very quick of your form, subtler than an old, soft-worn fiddle-bow.
"When I was a child, I loved my father's riding- whip that he used so often. I loved to handle it, it seemed like a near part of him. So I did his pens, and the jasper seal on his desk. Something seemed to surge through me when I touched them.
"So it is with you, but here The joy I feel! God knows what I feel, but it is joy! Look, you are clean and fine and singled out! I admire you so, you are beautiful: this clean sweep of your sides, this firmness, this hard mould! I would die rather than have it injured with one scar. I wish I could grip you like the fist of the Lord, and have you—"
So she said, and I wondered, feeling trammelled and hurt. It did not make me free.
Now I say to her: "No tool, no instrument, no God! Don't touch me and appreciate me. It is an infamy. You would think twice before you touched a weasel on a fence as it lifts its straight white throat. Your hand would not be so flig and easy. Nor the adder we saw asleep with her head on her shoulder, curled up in the sunshine like a princess; when she lifted her head in delicate, startled wonder you did not stretch forward to caress her though she looked rarely beautiful and a miracle as she glided delicately away, with such dignity. And the young bull in the field, with his wrinkled, sad face, you are afraid if he rises to his feet, though he is all wistful and pathetic, like a mono- lith, arrested, static.
"Is there nothing in me to make you hesitate? I tell you there is all these. And why should you overlook them in me?—"
NEW HEAVEN AND EARTH
AND so I cross into another world shyly and in homage linger for an invitation from this unknown that I would trespass on.
I am very glad, and all alone in the world, all alone, and very glad, in a new world where I am disembarked at last.
I could cry with joy, because I am in the new world, just ventured in. I could cry with joy, and quite freely, there is nobody to know.
And whosoever the unknown people of this un- known world may be they will never understand my weeping for joy to be adventuring among them because it will still be a gesture of the old world I am making which they will not understand, because it is quite, quite foreign to them.
I WAS so weary of the world I was so sick of it everything was tainted with myself, skies, trees, flowers, birds, water, people, houses, streets, vehicles, machines, nations, armies, war, peace-talking, work, recreation, governing, anarchy, it was all tainted with myself, I knew it all to start with because it was all myself.
When I gathered flowers, I knew it was myself plucking my own flowering. When I went in a train, I knew it was myself travelling by my own invention. When I heard the cannon of the war, I listened with my own ears to my own destruction. When I saw the torn dead, I knew it was my own torn dead body. It was all me, I had done it all in my own flesh.
I SHALL never forget the maniacal horror of it all in the end when everything was me, I knew it all already, I anticipated it all in my soul because I was the author and the result I was the God and the creation at once; creator, I looked at my creation; created, I looked at myself, the creator: it was a maniacal horror in the end.
I was a lover, I kissed the woman I loved, and God of horror, I was kissing also myself. I was a father and a begetter of children, and oh, oh horror, I was begetting and conceiving in my own body.
AT last came death, sufficiency of death, and that at last relieved me, I died. I buried my beloved; it was good, I buried myself and was gone. War came, and every hand raised to murder; very good, very good, every hand raised to murder! Very good, very good, I am a murderer! It is good, I can murder and murder, and see them fall the mutilated, horror-struck youths, a multitude one on another, and then in clusters together smashed, all oozing with blood, and burned in heaps going up in a foetid smoke to get rid of them the murdered bodies of youths and men in heaps and heaps and heaps and horrible reeking heaps till it is almost enough, till I am reduced perhaps; thousands and thousands of gaping, hideous foul dead that are youths and men and me being burned with oil, and consumed in corrupt thick smoke, that rolls and taints and blackens the sky, till at last it is dark, dark as night, or death, or hell and I am dead, and trodden to nought in the smoke-sodden tomb; dead and trodden to nought in the sour black earth of the tomb; dead and trodden to nought, trodden to nought.
GOD, but it is good to have died and been trodden out trodden to nought in sour, dead earth quite to nought absolutely to nothing nothing nothing nothing.
For when it is quite, quite nothing, then it is everything. When I am trodden quite out, quite, quite out every vestige gone, then I am here risen, and setting my foot on another world risen, accomplishing a resurrection risen, not born again, but risen, body the same as before, new beyond knowledge of newness, alive beyond life proud beyond inkling or furthest conception of pride living where life was never yet dreamed of, nor hinted at here, in the other world, still terrestrial myself, the same as before, yet unaccountably new.
I, IN the sour black tomb, trodden to absolute death I put out my hand in the night, one night, and my hand touched that which was verily not me verily it was not me. Where I had been was a sudden blaze a sudden flaring blaze! So I put my hand out further, a little further and I felt that which was not I, it verily was not I it was the unknown.
Ha, I was a blaze leaping up! I was a tiger bursting into sunlight. I was greedy, I was mad for the unknown. I, new-risen, resurrected, starved from the tomb starved from a life of devouring always myself now here was I, new-awakened, with my hand stretching out and touching the unknown, the real unknown, the unknown unknown.
My God, but I can only say I touch, I feel the unknown! I am the first comer! Cortes, Pisarro, Columbus, Cabot, they are noth- ing, nothing! I am the first comer! I am the discoverer! I have found the other world!
The unknown, the unknown! I am thrown upon the shore. I am covering myself with the sand. I am filling my mouth with the earth. I am burrowing my body into the soil. The unknown, the new world!
IT was the flank of my wife I touched with my hand, I clutched with my hand rising, new-awakened from the tomb! It was the flank of my wife whom I married years ago at whose side I have lain for over a thousand nights and all that previous while, she was I, she was I; I touched her, it was I who touched and I who was touched.
Yet rising from the tomb, from the black oblivion stretching out my hand, my hand flung like a drowned man's hand on a rock, I touched her flank and knew I was carried by the current in death over to the new world, and was climbing out on the shore, risen, not to the old world, the old, changeless I, the old life, wakened not to the old knowledge but to a new earth, a new I, a new knowledge, a new world of time.
Ah no, I cannot tell you what it is, the new world I cannot tell you the mad, astounded rapture of its discovery. I shall be mad with delight before I have done, and whosoever comes after will find me in the new world a madman in rapture.
GREEN streams that flow from the innermost continent of the new world, what are they? Green and illumined and travelling for ever dissolved with the mystery of the innermost heart of the continent mystery beyond knowledge or endurance, so sump- tuous out of the well-heads of the new world.— The other, she too has strange green eyes! White sands and fruits unknown and perfumes that never can blow across the dark seas to our usual world! And land that beats with a pulse! And valleys that draw close in love! And strange ways where I fall into oblivion of uttermost living!— Also she who is the other has strange-mounded breasts and strange sheer slopes, and white levels.
Sightless and strong oblivion in utter life takes possession of me! The unknown, strong current of life supreme drowns me and sweeps me away and holds me down to the sources of mystery, in the depths, extinguishes there my risen resurrected life and kindles it further at the core of utter mystery.
I HAVE found a place of loneliness Lonelier than Lyonesse Lovelier than Paradise;
Full of sweet stillness That no noise can transgress Never a lamp distress.
The full moon sank in state. I saw her stand and wait For her watchers to shut the gate.
Then I found myself in a wonderland All of shadow and of bland Silence hard to understand.
I waited therefore; then I knew The presence of the flowers that grew Noiseless, their wonder noiseless blew.
And flashing kingfishers that flew In sightless beauty, and the few Shadows the passing wild-beast threw.
And Eve approaching over the ground Unheard and subtle, never a sound To let me know that I was found.
Invisible the hands of Eve Upon me travelling to reeve Me from the matrix, to relieve
Me from the rest! Ah terribly Between the body of life and me Her hands slid in and set me free.
Ah, with a fearful, strange detection She found the source of my subjection To the All, and severed the connection.
Delivered helpless and amazed From the womb of the All, I am waiting, dazed For memory to be erased.
Then I shall know the Elysium That lies outside the monstrous womb Of time from out of which I come.
A WOMAN has given me strength and affluence. Admitted!
All the rocking wheat of Canada, ripening now, has not so much of strength as the body of one woman sweet in ear, nor so much to give though it feed nations.
Hunger is the very Satan. The fear of hunger is Moloch, Belial, the horrible God. It is a fearful thing to be dominated by the fear of hunger.
Not bread alone, not the belly nor the thirsty throat. I have never yet been smitten through the belly, with the lack of bread, no, nor even milk and honey.
The fear of the want of these things seems to be quite left out of me. For so much, I thank the good generations of man- kind.
AND the sweet, constant, balanced heat of the suave sensitive body, the hunger for this has never seized me and terrified me. Here again, man has been good in his legacy to us, in these two primary instances.
THEN the dumb, aching, bitter, helpless need, the pining to be initiated, to have access to the knowledge that the great dead have opened up for us, to know, to satisfy the great and dominant hunger of the mind; man's sweetest harvest of the centuries, sweet, printed books, bright, glancing, exquisite corn of many a stubborn glebe in the upturned darkness; I thank mankind with passionate heart that I just escaped the hunger for these, that they were given when I needed them, because I am the son of man.
I have eaten, and drunk, and warmed and clothed my body, I have been taught the language of understanding, I have chosen among the bright and marvellous books, like any prince, such stores of the world's supply were open to me, in the wisdom and goodness of man. So far, so good. Wise, good provision that makes the heart swell with love!
BUT then came another hunger very deep, and ravening; the very body's body crying out with a hunger more frightening, more profound than stomach or throat or even the mind; redder than death, more clamorous.
The hunger for the woman. Alas, it is so deep a Moloch, ruthless and strong, 'tis like the unutterable name of the dread Lord, not to be spoken aloud. Yet there it is, the hunger which comes upon us, which we must learn to satisfy with pure, real satisfaction; or perish, there is no alternative.
I thought it was woman, indiscriminate woman, mere female adjunct of what I was. Ah, that was torment hard enough and a thing to be afraid of, a threatening, torturing, phallic Moloch.
A woman fed that hunger in me at last. What many women cannot give, one woman can; so I have known it.
She stood before me like riches that were mine. Even then, in the dark, I was tortured, ravening, unfree, Ashamed, and shameful, and vicious. A man is so terrified of strong hunger; and this terror is the root of all cruelty. She loved me, and stood before me, looking to me. How could I look, when I was mad? I looked sideways, furtively, being mad with voracious desire.
THIS comes right at last. When a man is rich, he loses at last the hunger fear. I lost at last the fierceness that fears it will starve. I could put my face at last between her breasts and know that they were given for ever that I should never starve never perish; I had eaten of the bread that satisfies and my body's body was appeased, there was peace and richness, fulfilment.
Let them praise desire who will, but only fulfilment will do, real fulfilment, nothing short. It is our ratification our heaven, as a matter of fact. Immortality, the heaven, is only a projection of this strange but actual fulfilment, here in the flesh.
So, another hunger was supplied, and for this I have to thank one woman, not mankind, for mankind would have prevented me; but one woman, and these are my red-letter thanksgivings.
To be, or not to be, is still the question. This ache for being is the ultimate hunger. And for myself, I can say "almost, almost, oh, very nearly." Yet something remains. Something shall not always remain. For the main already is fulfilment.
What remains in me, is to be known even as I know. I know her now: or perhaps, I know my own limitation against her.
Plunging as I have done, over, over the brink I have dropped at last headlong into nought, plunging upon sheer hard extinction; I have come, as it were, not to know, died, as it were; ceased from knowing; surpassed myself. What can I say more, except that I know what it is to surpass myself?
It is a kind of death which is not death. It is going a little beyond the bounds. How can one speak, where there is a dumbness on one's mouth? I suppose, ultimately she is all beyond me, she is all not-me, ultimately. It is that that one comes to. A curious agony, and a relief, when I touch that which is not me in any sense, it wounds me to death with my own not-being; definite, inviolable limitation, and something beyond, quite beyond, if you understand what that means. It is the major part of being, this having surpassed oneself, this having touched the edge of the beyond, and perished, yet not perished.
I WANT her though, to take the same from me. She touches me as if I were herself, her own. She has not realized yet, that fearful thing, that I am the other, she thinks we are all of one piece. It is painfully untrue.
I want her to touch me at last, ah, on the root and quick of my darkness and perish on me, as I have perished on her.
Then, we shall be two and distinct, we shall have each our separate being. And that will be pure existence, real liberty. Till then, we are confused, a mixture, unresolved, unextricated one from the other. It is in pure, unutterable resolvedness, distinction of being, that one is free, not in mixing, merging, not in similarity. When she has put her hand on my secret, darkest sources, the darkest outgoings, when it has struck home to her, like a death, "this is him!" she has no part in it, no part whatever, it is the terrible other, when she knows the fearful other flesh, ah, dark- ness unfathomable and fearful, contiguous and concrete, when she is slain against me, and lies in a heap like one outside the house, when she passes away as I have passed away being pressed up against the other, then I shall be glad, I shall not be confused with her, I shall be cleared, distinct, single as if burnished in silver, having no adherence, no adhesion anywhere, one clear, burnished, isolated being, unique, and she also, pure, isolated, complete, two of us, unutterably distinguished, and in unutterable conjunction.
Then we shall be free, freer than angels, ah, perfect.
AFTER that, there will only remain that all men detach themselves and become unique, that we are all detached, moving in freedom more than the angels, conditioned only by our own pure single being, having no laws but the laws of our own being.
Every human being will then be like a flower, untrammelled. Every movement will be direct. Only to be will be such delight, we cover our faces when we think of it lest our faces betray us to some untimely fiend.
Every man himself, and therefore, a surpassing singleness of mankind. The blazing tiger will spring upon the deer, un- dimmed, the hen will nestle over her chickens, we shall love, we shall hate, but it will be like music, sheer utterance, issuing straight out of the unknown, the lightning and the rainbow appearing in us unbidden, unchecked, like ambassadors.
We shall not look before and after. We shall be, now. We shall know in full. We, the mystic NOW.
THE plane leaves fall black and wet on the lawn;
The cloud sheaves in heaven's fields set droop and are drawn
in falling seeds of rain; the seed of heaven on my face
falling—I hear again like echoes even that softly pace
Heaven's muffled floor, the winds that tread out all the grain
of tears, the store harvested in the sheaves of pain
caught up aloft: the sheaves of dead men that are slain
now winnowed soft on the floor of heaven; manna invisible
of all the pain here to us given; finely divisible falling as rain.
IT is not long since, here among all these folk in London, I should have held myself of no account whatever, but should have stood aside and made them way thinking that they, perhaps, had more right than I—for who was I?
Now I see them just the same, and watch them. But of what account do I hold them?
Especially the young women. I look at them as they dart and flash before the shops, like wagtails on the edge of a pool.
If I pass them close, or any man, like sharp, slim wagtails they flash a little aside pretending to avoid us; yet all the time calculating.
They think that we adore them—alas, would it were true!
Probably they think all men adore them, howsoever they pass by.
What is it, that, from their faces fresh as spring, such fair, fresh, alert, first-flower faces, like lavender crocuses, snowdrops, like Roman hyacinths, scyllas and yellow-haired hellebore, jonquils, dim anemones, even the sulphur auriculas, flowers that come first from the darkness, and feel cold to the touch, flowers scentless or pungent, ammoniacal almost; what is it, that, from the faces of the fair young women comes like a pungent scent, a vibration beneath that startles me, alarms me, stirs up a repulsion?
They are the issue of acrid winter, these first- flower young women; their scent is lacerating and repellant, it smells of burning snow, of hot-ache, of earth, winter-pressed, strangled in corruption; it is the scent of the fiery-cold dregs of corruption, when destruction soaks through the mortified, decomposing earth, and the last fires of dissolution burn in the bosom of the ground.
They are the flowers of ice-vivid mortification, thaw-cold, ice-corrupt blossoms, with a loveliness I loathe; for what kind of ice-rotten, hot-aching heart must they need to root in!
CRAVING FOR SPRING
I WISH it were spring in the world.
Let it be spring! Come, bubbling, surging tide of sap! Come, rush of creation! Come, life! surge through this mass of mortifica- tion! Come, sweep away these exquisite, ghastly first- flowers, which are rather last-flowers! Come, thaw down their cool portentousness, dissolve them: snowdrops, straight, death-veined exhalations of white and purple crocuses, flowers of the penumbra, issue of corruption, nourished in mortification, jets of exquisite finality; Come, spring, make havoc of them!
I trample on the snowdrops, it gives me pleasure to tread down the jonquils, to destroy the chill Lent lilies; for I am sick of them, their faint-bloodedness, slow-blooded, icy-fleshed, portentous.
I want the fine, kindling wine-sap of spring, gold, and of inconceivably fine, quintessential brightness, rare almost as beams, yet overwhelmingly potent, strong like the greatest force of world-balancing.
This is the same that picks up the harvest of wheat and rocks it, tons of grain, on the ripening wind; the same that dangles the globe-shaped pleiads of fruit temptingly in mid-air, between a playful thumb and finger; oh, and suddenly, from out of nowhere, whirls the pear-bloom, upon us, and apple- and almond- and apricot- and quince-blossom, storms and cumulus clouds of all imaginable blossom about our bewildered faces, though we do not worship.
I wish it were spring cunningly blowing on the fallen sparks, odds and ends of the old, scattered fire, and kindling shapely little conflagrations curious long-legged foals, and wide-eared calves, and naked sparrow-bubs.
I wish that spring would start the thundering traffic of feet new feet on the earth, beating with impatience.
I wish it were spring, thundering delicate, tender spring. I wish these brittle, frost-lovely flowers of pas- sionate, mysterious corruption were not yet to come still more from the still- flickering discontent.
Oh, in the spring, the bluebell bows him down for very exuberance, exulting with secret warm excess, bowed down with his inner magnificence!
Oh, yes, the gush of spring is strong enough to toss the globe of earth like a ball on a water-jet dancing sportfully; as you see a tiny celluloid ball tossing on a squint of water for men to shoot at, penny-a-time, in a booth at a fair.
The gush of spring is strong enough to play with the globe of earth like a ball on a fountain; At the same time it opens the tiny hands of the hazel with such infinite patience.
The power of the rising, golden, all-creative sap could take the earth and heave it off among the stars, into the in- visible; the same sets the throstle at sunset on a bough singing against the blackbird; comes out in the hesitating tremor of the primrose, and betrays its candour in the round white straw- berry flower, is dignified in the foxglove, like a Red-Indian brave.
Ah come, come quickly, spring! Come and lift us towards our culmination, we myriads; we who have never flowered, like patient cactuses. Come and lift us to our end, to blossom, bring us to our summer we who are winter-weary in the winter of the world. Come making the chaffinch nests hollow and cosy, come and soften the willow buds till they are puffed and furred, then blow them over with gold. Come and cajole the gawky colt's-foot flowers.
Come quickly, and vindicate us against too much death. Come quickly, and stir the rotten globe of the world from within, burst it with germination, with world anew. Come now, to us, your adherents, who cannot flower from the ice. All the world gleams with the lilies of Death the Unconquerable, but come, give us our turn. Enough of the virgins and lilies, of passionate, suffocating perfume of corruption, no more narcissus perfume, lily harlots, the blades of sensation piercing the flesh to blossom of death. Have done, have done with this shuddering, delicious business of thrilling ruin in the flesh, of pungent passion, of rare, death-edged ecstasy. Give us our turn, give us a chance, let our hour strike, O soon, soon!
Let the darkness turn violet with rich dawn. Let the darkness be warmed, warmed through to a ruddy violet, incipient purpling towards summer in the world of the heart of man.
Are the violets already here! Show me! I tremble so much to hear it, that even now on the threshold of spring, I fear I shall die. Show me the violets that are out.
Oh, if it be true, and the living darkness of the blood of man is purpling with violets, if the violets are coming out from under the rack of men, winter-rotten and fallen we shall have spring. Pray not to die on this Pisgah blossoming with violets. Pray to live through.
If you catch a whiff of violets from the darkness of the shadow of man it will be spring in the world, it will be spring in the world of the living; wonderment organising itself, heralding itself with the violets, stirring of new seasons.
Ah, do not let me die on the brink of such anticipation! Worse, let me not deceive myself.
PRINTED AT THE COMPLETE PRESS WEST NORWOOD LONDON
Look! We Have Come Through!
CHATTO & WINDUS