SONNETS (from Second April) I We talk of taxes, and I call you friend; Well, such you are,—but well enough we know How thick about us root, how rankly grow Those subtle weeds no man has need to tend, That flourish through neglect, and soon must send Perfume too sweet upon us and overthrow Our steady senses; how such matters go We are aware, and how such matters end. Yet shall be told no meagre passion here; With lovers such as we forevermore Isolde drinks the draught, and Guinevere Receives the Table's ruin through her door, Francesca, with the loud surf at her ear, Lets fall the colored book upon the floor. II Into the golden vessel of great song Let us pour all our passion; breast to breast Let other lovers lie, in love and rest; Not we,—articulate, so, but with the tongue Of all the world: the churning blood, the long Shuddering quiet, the desperate hot palms pressed Sharply together upon the escaping guest, The common soul, unguarded, and grown strong. Longing alone is singer to the lute; Let still on nettles in the open sigh The minstrel, that in slumber is as mute As any man, and love be far and high, That else forsakes the topmost branch, a fruit Found on the ground by every passer-by. III Not with libations, but with shouts and laughter We drenched the altars of Love's sacred grove, Shaking to earth green fruits, impatient after The launching of the colored moths of Love. Love's proper myrtle and his mother's zone We bound about our irreligious brows, And fettered him with garlands of our own, And spread a banquet in his frugal house. Not yet the god has spoken; but I fear Though we should break our bodies in his flame, And pour our blood upon his altar, here Henceforward is a grove without a name, A pasture to the shaggy goats of Pan, Whence flee forever a woman and a man. IV Only until this cigarette is ended, A little moment at the end of all, While on the floor the quiet ashes fall, And in the firelight to a lance extended, Bizarrely with the jazzing music blended, The broken shadow dances on the wall, I will permit my memory to recall The vision of you, by all my dreams attended. And then adieu,—farewell!—the dream is done. Yours is a face of which I can forget The color and the features, every one, The words not ever, and the smiles not yet; But in your day this moment is the sun Upon a hill, after the sun has set. V Once more into my arid days like dew, Like wind from an oasis, or the sound Of cold sweet water bubbling underground, A treacherous messenger, the thought of you Comes to destroy me; once more I renew Firm faith in your abundance, whom I found Long since to be but just one other mound Of sand, whereon no green thing ever grew. And once again, and wiser in no wise, I chase your colored phantom on the air, And sob and curse and fall and weep and rise And stumble pitifully on to where, Miserable and lost, with stinging eyes, Once more I clasp,—and there is nothing there. VI No rose that in a garden ever grew, In Homer's or in Omar's or in mine, Though buried under centuries of fine Dead dust of roses, shut from sun and dew Forever, and forever lost from view, But must again in fragrance rich as wine The grey aisles of the air incarnadine When the old summers surge into a new. Thus when I swear, "I love with all my heart," 'Tis with the heart of Lilith that I swear, 'Tis with the love of Lesbia and Lucrece; And thus as well my love must lose some part Of what it is, had Helen been less fair, Or perished young, or stayed at home in Greece. VII When I too long have looked upon your face, Wherein for me a brightness unobscured Save by the mists of brightness has its place, And terrible beauty not to be endured, I turn away reluctant from your light, And stand irresolute, a mind undone, A silly, dazzled thing deprived of sight From having looked too long upon the sun. Then is my daily life a narrow room In which a little while, uncertainly, Surrounded by impenetrable gloom, Among familiar things grown strange to me Making my way, I pause, and feel, and hark, Till I become accustomed to the dark. VIII And you as well must die, beloved dust, And all your beauty stand you in no stead; This flawless, vital hand, this perfect head, This body of flame and steel, before the gust Of Death, or under his autumnal frost, Shall be as any leaf, be no less dead Than the first leaf that fell,—this wonder fled. Altered, estranged, disintegrated, lost. Nor shall my love avail you in your hour. In spite of all my love, you will arise Upon that day and wander down the air Obscurely as the unattended flower, It mattering not how beautiful you were, Or how beloved above all else that dies. IX Let you not say of me when I am old, In pretty worship of my withered hands Forgetting who I am, and how the sands Of such a life as mine run red and gold Even to the ultimate sifting dust, "Behold, Here walketh passionless age!"—for there expands A curious superstition in these lands, And by its leave some weightless tales are told. In me no lenten wicks watch out the night; I am the booth where Folly holds her fair; Impious no less in ruin than in strength, When I lie crumbled to the earth at length, Let you not say, "Upon this reverend site The righteous groaned and beat their breasts in prayer." X Oh, my beloved, have you thought of this: How in the years to come unscrupulous Time, More cruel than Death, will tear you from my kiss, And make you old, and leave me in my prime? How you and I, who scale together yet A little while the sweet, immortal height No pilgrim may remember or forget, As sure as the world turns, some granite night Shall lie awake and know the gracious flame Gone out forever on the mutual stone; And call to mind that on the day you came I was a child, and you a hero grown?— And the night pass, and the strange morning break Upon our anguish for each other's sake! XI As to some lovely temple, tenantless Long since, that once was sweet with shivering brass, Knowing well its altars ruined and the grass Grown up between the stones, yet from excess Of grief hard driven, or great loneliness, The worshiper returns, and those who pass Marvel him crying on a name that was,— So is it now with me in my distress. Your body was a temple to Delight; Cold are its ashes whence the breath is fled, Yet here one time your spirit was wont to move; Here might I hope to find you day or night, And here I come to look for you, my love, Even now, foolishly, knowing you are dead. XII Cherish you then the hope I shall forget At length, my lord, Pieria?—put away For your so passing sake, this mouth of clay These mortal bones against my body set, For all the puny fever and frail sweat Of human love,—renounce for these, I say, The Singing Mountain's memory, and betray The silent lyre that hangs upon me yet? Ah, but indeed, some day shall you awake, Rather, from dreams of me, that at your side So many nights, a lover and a bride, But stern in my soul's chastity, have lain, To walk the world forever for my sake, And in each chamber find me gone again!