Imágenes de páginas

Those water-waifs that but the sea-wind

steers, Flakes of glad foam or flowers on foot

less ways

Blown by keen gusts of memory sad as

thine Heap the weight up of pain, and break,

and leave Strength scarce enough to grieve In the sick heavy spirit, unmanned with

strife Of waves that beat at the tired lips of


That take the wind in season and the

sun, And when the wind wills is their season


may be

[blocks in formation]

Nay, sad may be man's memory, sad The dream he weaves him as for shadow

of thee, But scarce one breathing-space, one

heartbeat long, Wilt thou take shadow of sadness on thy

song Not thou, being more than man or man's

desire, Being bird and God in one, With throat of gold and spirit of the

sun: The sun whom all our souls and songs

call sire, Whose godhead gave thee, chosen of all

our quire, Thee only of all that serve, of all that

sing Before our sire and king, Borne up some space on time's world

wandering wing, This gift, this doom, to bear till time's

wing tireLife everlasting of eternal fire. Thee only of all; yet can no memory say How many a night and day My heart has been as thy heart, and my

life As thy life is, a sleepless hidden thing, Full of the thirst and hunger of winter

and spring, That seeks its food not in such love or

strife As fill men's hearts with passionate

hours and rest. From no loved lips and on no loving

breast Have I sought ever for such gifts as bring Comfort, to stay the secret soul with

sleep. The joys, the loves, the labors, whence

men reap Rathe fruit of hopes and fears, I have made not mine; the best of all

my days Have been as those fair fruitless summer


We were not marked for sorrow, thou

nor I, For joy nor sorrow, sister, were we made, To take delight and grief to live and

die, Assuaged by pleasures or by pains af

frayed That melt men's hearts and alter; we

retain A memory mastering pleasure and all

pain, A spirit within the sense of ear and eve. A soul behind the soul, that seeks and

sings And makes our life move only with its

wings And feed but from its lips, that in re

turn Feed of our hearts wherein the old fires

that burn Have strength not to consume Nor glory enough to exalt us past our


[blocks in formation]

Ah, for her doom ! so cried in presage

then The bodeful bondslave of the king of

men, And might not win her will. Too close the entangling dragnet woven

of crime, The snare of ill new-born of elder ill, The curse of new time for an elder

time, Had caught and held her yet, Enmeshed intolerably in the intolerant

net, Who thought with craft to mock the

God most high, And win by wiles his crown of prophecy From the sun's hand sublime, As God were man, to spare or to forget.

And loose nor change one pulse of song,

one tone Of all that were thy lady's and thine

own, The lady's whom thou criedst on to for

give, Thou, priest and sacrifice on the altar

stone Where none may worship not of all that

live, Love's priestess, errant on dark ways

diverse ; If this were grace indeed for Love to

give, If this indeed were blessing and no


But thou,-the gods have given thee and

forgiven thee More than our master gave That strange-eyed, spirit-wounded,

strange-tongued slave There questing boundlike where the

roofs red-wet Reeked as a wet red grave. Life everlasting has their strange grace

given thee, Even hers whom thou wast wont to sing

and serve With eyes, but not with song, too swift

to swerve ; Yet might not even thine eyes estranged

estrange her, Who seeing thee too, but inly, burn and

bleed Like that pale princess-priest of Priam's

seed, For stranger service gave thee guerdon,

stranger If this indeed be guerdon, this indeed Her mercy, this thy meedThat thou, being more than all we born,

being higher Than all heads crowned of him that only

gives The light whereby man lives, The bay that bids man moved of God's

desire Lay hand on lute or lyre, Set lip to trumpet or deflowered green

reedIf this were given thee for a grace in

deed, That thou, being first of all these, thou

alone Shouldst have the grace to die not, but

to live,

Love's priestess, mad with pain and joy

of song, Song's priestess, mad with joy and pain

of love, Name above all names that are lights

above, We have lov'd, prais'd, pitied, crown'dl,

and done thee wrong, O thou past praise and pity ; thou the

sole Utterly deathless, perfect only and

whole Immortal, body and soul. For over all whom time hath overpast The shadow of sleep inexorable is cast, The implacable sweet shadow of perfect

sleep That gives not back what life gives death

to keep ; Yea, all that liv’d and lov'd and sang

and sinu'd Are all borne down death's cold, sweet,

soundless wind That blows all night and knows not

whom its breath, Darkling, may touch to death : But one that wind bath touch'd and

changed not.-one Whose body and soul are parcel of the

sun ; One that earth's fire could burn not, nor

the sea Quench; nor might human doom take

hold on thee; All praise, all pity, all dreams have done

thee wrong, All love, with eyes love-blinded from

above : Song's priestess, mad with joy and pain

of love, Love's priestess, mad with pain and joy Whose praise had made mute hunts

of song.

ness misproud, The song with answering song as

plauded thus, But of that Daulian dream of Itrla. So but for love's love haply was it-a81 How else?—that even their song tak

my song's part, For love of love and sweetness of sweet

heart, Or god-given glorious madness of mil

May And heat of heart and hunger and

thirst to sing, Full of the new wine of the wind of


Hast thou none other answer then for

me Than the air may have of thee, Or the earth's warm woodlands girdling

with green girth Thy secret, sleepless, burning life on

earth, Or even the sea that once, being woman

crown'd And girt with fire and glory of anguish

round, Thou wert so fain to seek to, fain to

crave If she would hear thee and save And give thee comfort of thy great

green grave ? Because I have known thee always who

thou art, Thou knowest, have known thee to thy

heart's own heart, Nor ever have given light ear to storied

song That did thy sweet name sweet unwit

ting wrong, Nor ever have called thee nor would call

for shame, Thou knowest, but inly, by thine only

name, Sappho--because I have known thee

and loved, hast thou None other answer now? As brother and sister were we, child

and bird, Since thy first Lesbian word Flamed on me, and I knew not whence

I knew This was the song that struck my whole

soul through, Pierced my keen spirit of sense with

edge more keen, Even when I knew not-even ere sooth

to me,

Or if this were not, and be not sic To hold myself in spirit of thy she

kin, In heart and spirit of song: If this my great love do thy grace Du

wrong, Thy grace that gave me grace to de

therein ; If thy gods thus be my gods, and their

will Made my song part of thy songeren

such part As man's hath of God's heartAnd my life like as thy life to fulfil; What have our gods then giren ?

Ah, to thee Sister, much more, much happier than Much happier things they hare given..

and more of grace Than falls to man's light race; For lighter are we, all our love and pain Lighter than thine, who knowest of

time or place Thus much, that place nor time Can heal or hurt or lull or change

again The singing soul that makes his soal

sublime Who hears the far fall of its fire-fledged

rhyme Fill darkness as with bright and burning

rain, Till all the live gloom inly glows, and

light Seems with the sound to cleave the core

of night.

was seen

When thou wast but the tawny sweet

winged thing Whose cry was but of spring.

And yet even so thine ear should hear


Hear me this nightfall by this northland

bay, Eren for their sake whose loud good

word I had, Singing of thee in the all-beloved clime Once, where the windy wine of spring

makes mad Our sisters of Majano, who kept time ('lear to my choral rhyme. Yet was the song acclaimed of these


The singing soul that mores thee, and

that moved When thou wast woman, and their

songs divine

o mixed for Grecian mouths heav

en's lyric wine dumb, fell down reproved ore one sovereign Lesbian song of

thine. t soul, though love and life had fain

held fast, nd-winged with fiery music, rose

and past ough the indrawn hollow of earth

and heaven and hell, through some strait sea-shell ewide sea's immemorial song,—the

This is the song that made
Love fearful, even the heart of love

afraid, With the great anguish of its great de

light. No swan-song, no far-fluttering half

drawn breath, No word that love of love's sweet nature

saith, No dirge that lulls the narrowing lids of

death, No healing hymn of peace-prevented

strife,This is her song of life.


[blocks in formation]

I loved thee,-hark, one tenderer note

than allAtthis, of old time, once-one low long

fall, Sighing-one long low lovely loveless

call, Dying-one pause in song so flamelike

fastAtthis, long since in old time overpast-One soft first pause and last, One,-then the old rage of rapture's

fieriest rain Storms all the music-maddened night

again. Child of God, close craftswoman, I be

seech thee Bid not ache nor agony break nor mas

ter, Lady, my spiritO thou her mistress, might her cry not

reach thee? Our Lady of all men's loves, could Love

go past her, Pass, and not hear it?

[ocr errors]

eart kindling as the heart of heaven,

to hear song more fiery than the awakening ngs, when his song sets fire ► the air and clouds that build the

dead night's pyre? thou of divers-colored mind, O thou eathless, God's daughter, subtle-souled

-lo, now, ow to the song above all songs, in flight igher than the day-star's height, nd sweet as sound the moving wings

of night! hou of the divers-colored seat-behold, Ier very song of old! deathless, O God's daughter, subtle

souled! "hat ame cry through this boskage

overhead lings round reiterated, Palpitates as the last palpitated, Che last that panted through her lips

and died Tot down this gray north sea's half

sapped cliff-side That crumbles toward the coastline,

year by year More near the sands and near : The last loud lyric fiery cry she cried, Heard once

on heights Leucadian,heard not here. Not here : for this that fires our north

land night,

She hears not as she heard not: hears

not me, O trebled-natured mystery-how should

she Hear, or give ear?—who heard and

heard not thee; Heard and went past, and heard not;

but all time Hears all that all the ravin of his years Hath cast not wholly out of all men's


And dulled to death with deep dense

funeral chime Of their reiterate rhyme. And now of all songs uttering all her

praise, All hers who had thy praise and did thee Abides one song yet of her lyric days, Thine only, this thy song.


For that sole singer in all time's ageless

date Singled and signed for so triumphal

fate, All nightingales but one in all the world All her sweet life were silent ; only

then, When her life's wing of womanhood was

furled, Their cry, this cry of thine was heard

again, As of me now, of any born of men.

[ocr errors]

as I.


of none,

O soul triune, woman and god and

bird, Man, man at least has heard. All ages call thee conqueror, and thy

cry The mightiest as the least beneath the

sky Whose heart was ever set to song, or

stirred With wind of mounting music blown

more high Than wildest wing may fly, Hath heard or hears,-even Æschylus But when thy name was woman, and

thy word Human,—then haply, surely then meThis thy bird's note was heard on earth Of none save only in dreams. In all the world then surely was but

one Song; as in heaven at highest one

sceptred sun Regent, on earth here surely without fail One only, one imperious nightingale. Dumb was the field, the woodland mute,

the lawn Silent; the hill was tongueless as the

vale Even when the last fair waif of cloud

that felt Its heart beneath the coloring moonrays

melt, At high midnoon of midnight half with

drawn, Bared all the sudden deep divine moon

dawn. Then, unsaluted by her twin-born tune, That latter timeless morning of the

Through sleepless clear spring nights

filled full of thee, Rekindled here, thy ruling song has

thrilled The deep dark air and subtle tender sea And breathless hearts with one bright

sound fulfilled. Or at midnoon to me Swimming, and birds about my happier

head Skimming, one smooth soft way by

water and air, To these my bright born brethren and to

me Hath not the clear wind borne or seemed

to bear A song wherein all earth and heaven

and sea Were molten in one music made of the To enforce us, ( our sister of the shore, Look once in heart back landward alu

adore ? For songless were we sea-mews, yet had More joy than all things joyful of thee

more, Haply, than all things happiest ; nay,

save thee, In thy strong rapture of imperious jos Too high for heart of sea-borve birdir

boy, What living things were happiest if not

we? But knowing not love nor change por

wrath nor wrong, No more we knew of song. Song, and the secrets of it, and their

might, What blessings curse it and what curse

bless, I know them since my spirit had first in.

sight, Clear as thy song's words or the lives

sun's light, The small dark body's Lesbian lovelines



Rose past its hour of moonrise ; clouds

gave way To the old reconquering ray, But no song answering made it more

than day ; No cry of song by night Shot fire into the cloud-constraining

light. One only, one Æolian island heard Thrill, but through no bird's throat, In one strange manlike maiden's godlike

note, The song of all these as a single bird ; Till the sea's portal was as funeral gate

« AnteriorContinuar »