H O M E

Poems
by Alan Seeger

(1917)



    Juvenilia

  1. An Ode to Natural Beauty
  2. The Deserted Garden
  3. The Torture of Cuauhtemoc
  4. The Nympholept
  5. The Wanderer
  6. The Need to Love
  7. El Extraviado
  8. La Nue
  9. All That's Not Love . . .
  10. Paris
  11. The Sultan's Palace
  12. Fragments

    Thirty Sonnets:

  13. Sonnet I
  14. Sonnet II
  15. Sonnet III
  16. Sonnet IV
  17. Sonnet V
  18. Sonnet VI
  19. Sonnet VII
  20. Sonnet VIII
  21. Sonnet IX
  22. Sonnet X
  23. Sonnet XI
  24. Sonnet XII
  25. Sonnet XIII
  26. Sonnet XIV
  27. Sonnet XV
  28. Sonnet XVI
  29. Kyrenaikos
  30. Antinous
  31. Vivien
  32. I Loved . . .
  33. Virginibus Puerisque . . .
  34. With a Copy of Shakespeare's Sonnets on Leaving College
  35. Written in a Volume of the Comtesse de Noailles
  36. Coucy
  37. Tezcotzinco
  38. The Old Lowe House, Staten Island
  39. Oneata
  40. n the Cliffs, Newport
  41. O
  42. To England at the Outbreak of the Balkan War
  43. At the Tomb of Napoleon Before the Elections in America -- November, 1912

  44. The Rendezvous
  45. Do You Remember Once . . .
  46. The Bayadere
  47. Eudaemon
  48. Broceliande
  49. Lyonesse
  50. Tithonus
  51. An Ode to Antares

    Translations

  52. Dante. Inferno, Canto XXVI
  53. Ariosto. Orlando Furioso, Canto X, 91-99
  54. On a Theme in the Greek Anthology
  55. After an Epigram of Clement Marot

    Last Poems

  56. The Aisne (1914-15)
  57. Champagne (1914-15)
  58. The Hosts
  59. Maktoob
  60. I Have a Rendezvous with Death . . .

    Sonnets:

  61. Sonnet I
  62. Sonnet II
  63. Sonnet III
  64. Sonnet IV
  65. Sonnet V
  66. Sonnet VI
  67. Sonnet VII
  68. Sonnet VIII
  69. Sonnet IX
  70. Sonnet X
  71. Sonnet XI
  72. Sonnet XII

  73. Bellinglise
  74. Liebestod
  75. Resurgam
  76. A Message to America
  77. Introduction and Conclusion of a Long Poem
  78. Ode in Memory of the American Volunteers Fallen for France

Poets' Corner Scripting
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Seegers Enlistment Photo for the French Foreign Legion
Poems




Alan Seeger

(1917)

Edited for the Web by Bob Blair

. The Rendezvous

    HE FAINTS with hope and fear. It is the hour.
    Distant, across the thundering organ-swell,
    In sweet discord from the cathedral-tower,
    Fall the faint chimes and the thrice-sequent bell.
    Over the crowd his eye uneasy roves.
    He sees a plume, a fur; his heart dilates -- -
    Soars . . . and then sinks again. It is not hers he loves.
    She will not come, the woman that he waits.

    Braided with streams of silver incense rise
    The antique prayers and ponderous antiphones.
    Gloria Patri echoes to the skies;
    Nunc et in saecula the choir intones.
    He marks not the monotonous refrain,
    The priest that serves nor him that celebrates,
    But ever scans the aisle for his blonde head. . . . In vain!
    She will not come, the woman that he waits.

    How like a flower seemed the perfumed place
    Where the sweet flesh lay loveliest to kiss;
    And her white hands in what delicious ways,
    With what unfeigned caresses, answered his!
    Each tender charm intolerable to lose,
    Each happy scene his fancy recreates.
    And he calls out her name and spreads his arms . . . No use!
    She will not come, the woman that he waits.

    But the long vespers close. The priest on high
    Raises the thing that Christ's own flesh enforms;
    And down the Gothic nave the crowd flows by
    And through the portal's carven entry swarms.
    Maddened he peers upon each passing face
    Till the long drab procession terminates.
    No princess passes out with proud majestic pace.
    She has not come, the woman that he waits.

    Back in the empty silent church alone
    He walks with aching heart. A white-robed boy
    Puts out the altar-candles one by one,
    Even as by inches darkens all his joy.
    He dreams of the sweet night their lips first met,
    And groans -- - and turns to leave -- - and hesitates . . .
    Poor stricken heart, he will, he can not fancy yet
    She will not come, the woman that he waits.

    But in an arch where deepest shadows fall
    He sits and studies the old, storied panes,
    And the calm crucifix that from the wall
    Looks on a world that quavers and complains.
    Hopeless, abandoned, desolate, aghast,
    On modes of violent death he meditates.
    And the tower-clock tolls five, and he admits at last,
    She will not come, the woman that he waits.

    Through the stained rose the winter daylight dies,
    And all the tide of anguish unrepressed
    Swells in his throat and gathers in his eyes;
    He kneels and bows his head upon his breast,
    And feigns a prayer to hide his burning tears,
    While the satanic voice reiterates
    `Tonight, tomorrow, nay, nor all the impending years,
    She will not come,' the woman that he waits.

    Fond, fervent heart of life's enamored spring,
    So true, so confident, so passing fair,
    That thought of Love as some sweet, tender thing,
    And not as war, red tooth and nail laid bare,
    How in that hour its innocence was slain,
    How from that hour our disillusion dates,
    When first we learned thy sense, ironical refrain,
    She will not come, the woman that he waits.

    Alan Seeger

. Do You Remember Once . . .

    I

    DO YOU remember once, in Paris of glad faces,
    The night we wandered off under the third moon's rays
    And, leaving far behind bright streets and busy places,
    Stood where the Seine flowed down between its quiet quais?

    The city's voice was hushed; the placid, lustrous waters
    Mirrored the walls across where orange windows burned.
    Out of the starry south provoking rumors brought us
    Far promise of the spring already northward turned.

    And breast drew near to breast, and round its soft desire
    My arm uncertain stole and clung there unrepelled.
    I thought that nevermore my heart would hover nigher
    To the last flower of bliss that Nature's garden held.

    There, in your beauty's sweet abandonment to pleasure,
    The mute, half-open lips and tender, wondering eyes,
    I saw embodied first smile back on me the treasure
    Long sought across the seas and back of summer skies.

    Dear face, when courted Death shall claim my limbs and find them
    Laid in some desert place, alone or where the tides
    Of war's tumultuous waves on the wet sands behind them
    Leave rifts of gasping life when their red flood subsides,

    Out of the past's remote delirious abysses
    Shine forth once more as then you shone, -- - beloved head,
    Laid back in ecstasy between our blinding kisses,
    Transfigured with the bliss of being so coveted.

    And my sick arms will part, and though hot fever sear it,
    My mouth will curve again with the old, tender flame.
    And darkness will come down, still finding in my spirit
    The dream of your brief love, and on my lips your name.

    II

    You loved me on that moonlit night long since.
    You were my queen and I the charming prince
    Elected from a world of mortal men.
    You loved me once. . . . What pity was it, then,
    You loved not Love. . . . Deep in the emerald west,
    Like a returning caravel caressed
    By breezes that load all the ambient airs
    With clinging fragrance of the bales it bears
    From harbors where the caravans come down,
    I see over the roof-tops of the town
    The new moon back again, but shall not see
    The joy that once it had in store for me,
    Nor know again the voice upon the stair,
    The little studio in the candle-glare,
    And all that makes in word and touch and glance
    The bliss of the first nights of a romance
    When will to love and be beloved casts out
    The want to question or the will to doubt.
    You loved me once. . . . Under the western seas
    The pale moon settles and the Pleiades.
    The firelight sinks; outside the night-winds moan -- -
    The hour advances, and I sleep alone.

    III

    Farewell, dear heart, enough of vain despairing!
    If I have erred I plead but one excuse -- -
    The jewel were a lesser joy in wearing
    That cost a lesser agony to lose.

    I had not bid for beautifuller hours
    Had I not found the door so near unsealed,
    Nor hoped, had you not filled my arms with flowers,
    For that one flower that bloomed too far afield.

    If I have wept, it was because, forsaken,
    I felt perhaps more poignantly than some
    The blank eternity from which we waken
    And all the blank eternity to come.

    And I betrayed how sweet a thing and tender
    (In the regret with which my lip was curled)
    Seemed in its tragic, momentary splendor
    My transit through the beauty of the world.

    Alan Seeger

. The Bayadere

    FLAKED, drifting clouds hide not the full moon's rays
    More than her beautiful bright limbs were hid
    By the light veils they burned and blushed amid,
    Skilled to provoke in soft, lascivious ways,
    And there was invitation in her voice
    And laughing lips and wonderful dark eyes,
    As though above the gates of Paradise
    Fair verses bade, Be welcome and rejoice!

    O'er rugs where mottled blue and green and red
    Blent in the patterns of the Orient loom,
    Like a bright butterfly from bloom to bloom,
    She floated with delicious arms outspread.
    There was no pose she took, no move she made,
    But all the feverous, love-envenomed flesh
    Wrapped round as in the gladiator's mesh
    And smote as with his triple-forked blade.

    I thought that round her sinuous beauty curled
    Fierce exhalations of hot human love, -- -
    Around her beauty valuable above
    The sunny outspread kingdoms of the world;
    Flowing as ever like a dancing fire
    Flowed her belled ankles and bejewelled wrists,
    Around her beauty swept like sanguine mists
    The nimbus of a thousand hearts' desire.

    Alan Seeger

. Eudaemon

    O HAPPINESS, I know not what far seas,
    Blue hills and deep, thy sunny realms surround,
    That thus in Music's wistful harmonies
    And concert of sweet sound
    A rumor steals, from some uncertain shore,
    Of lovely things outworn or gladness yet in store:

    Whether thy beams be pitiful and come,
    Across the sundering of vanished years,
    From childhood and the happy fields of home,
    Like eyes instinct with tears
    Felt through green brakes of hedge and apple-bough
    Round haunts delightful once, desert and silent now;

    Or yet if prescience of unrealized love
    Startle the breast with each melodious air,
    And gifts that gentle hands are donors of
    Still wait intact somewhere,
    Furled up all golden in a perfumed place
    Within the folded petals of forthcoming days.

    Only forever, in the old unrest
    Of winds and waters and the varying year,
    A litany from islands of the blessed
    Answers, Not here . . . not here!
    And over the wide world that wandering cry
    Shall lead my searching heart unsoothed until I die.

    Alan Seeger

. Broceliande

    BROCELIANDE! in the perilous beauty of silence and menacing shade,
    Thou art set on the shores of the sea down the haze of horizons untravelled, unscanned.
    Untroubled, untouched with the woes of this world are the moon-marshalled hosts that invade
                                              Broceliande.

    Only at dusk, when lavender clouds in the orient twilight disband,
    Vanishing where all the blue afternoon they have drifted in solemn parade,
    Sometimes a whisper comes down on the wind from the valleys of Fairyland -- ---

    Sometimes an echo most mournful and faint like the horn of a huntsman strayed,
    Faint and forlorn, half drowned in the murmur of foliage fitfully fanned,
    Breathes in a burden of nameless regret till I startle, disturbed and affrayed:
                                              Broceliande -- -
                                              Broceliande -- -
                                              Broceliande. . . .

    Alan Seeger

. Lyonesse

    IN LYONESSE was beauty enough, men say:
    Long Summer loaded the orchards to excess,
    And fertile lowlands lengthening far away,
                                              In Lyonesse.

    Came a term to that land's old favoredness:
    Past the sea-walls, crumbled in thundering spray,
    Rolled the green waves, ravening, merciless.

    Through bearded boughs immobile in cool decay,
    Where sea-bloom covers corroding palaces,
    The mermaid glides with a curious glance to-day,
                                              In Lyonesse.

    Alan Seeger

. Tithonus

    SO WHEN the verdure of his life was shed,
    With all the grace of ripened manlihead,
    And on his locks, but now so lovable,
    Old age like desolating winter fell,
    Leaving them white and flowerless and forlorn:
    Then from his bed the Goddess of the Morn
    Softly withheld, yet cherished him no less
    With pious works of pitying tenderness;
    Till when at length with vacant, heedless eyes,
    And hoary height bent down none otherwise
    Than burdened willows bend beneath their weight
    Of snow when winter winds turn temperate, -- -
    So bowed with years -- - when still he lingered on:
    Then to the daughter of Hyperion
    This counsel seemed the best: for she, afar
    By dove-gray seas under the morning star,
    Where, on the wide world's uttermost extremes,
    Her amber-walled, auroral palace gleams,
    High in an orient chamber bade prepare
    An everlasting couch, and laid him there,
    And leaving, closed the shining doors. But he,
    Deathless by Jove's compassionless decree,
    Found not, as others find, a dreamless rest.
    There wakeful, with half-waking dreams oppressed,
    Still in an aural, visionary haze
    Float round him vanished forms of happier days;
    Still at his side he fancies to behold
    The rosy, radiant thing beloved of old;
    And oft, as over dewy meads at morn,
    Far inland from a sunrise coast is borne
    The drowsy, muffled moaning of the sea,
    Even so his voice flows on unceasingly, -- -
    Lisping sweet names of passion overblown,
    Breaking with dull, persistent undertone
    The breathless silence that forever broods
    Round those colossal, lustrous solitudes.
    Times change. Man's fortune prospers, or it falls.
    Change harbors not in those eternal halls
    And tranquil chamber where Tithonus lies.
    But through his window there the eastern skies
    Fall palely fair to the dim ocean's end.
    There, in blue mist where air and ocean blend,
    The lazy clouds that sail the wide world o'er
    Falter and turn where they can sail no more.
    There singing groves, there spacious gardens blow -- -
    Cedars and silver poplars, row on row,
    Through whose black boughs on her appointed night,
    Flooding his chamber with enchanted light,
    Lifts the full moon's immeasurable sphere,
    Crimson and huge and wonderfully near.

    Alan Seeger

. An Ode to Antares

    AT DUSK, when lowlands where dark waters glide
    Robe in gray mist, and through the greening hills
    The hoot-owl calls his mate, and whippoorwills
    Clamor from every copse and orchard-side,
    I watched the red star rising in the East,
    And while his fellows of the flaming sign
    From prisoning daylight more and more released,
    Lift their pale lamps, and, climbing higher, higher,
    Out of their locks the waters of the Line
    Shaking in clouds of phosphorescent fire,
    Rose in the splendor of their curving flight,
    Their dolphin leap across the austral night,
    From windows southward opening on the sea
    What eyes, I wondered, might be watching, too,
    Orbed in some blossom-laden balcony.
    Where, from the garden to the rail above,
    As though a lover's greeting to his love
    Should borrow body and form and hue
    And tower in torrents of floral flame,
    The crimson bougainvillea grew,
    What starlit brow uplifted to the same
    Majestic regress of the summering sky,
    What ultimate thing -- - hushed, holy, throned as high
    Above the currents that tarnish and profane
    As silver summits are whose pure repose
    No curious eyes disclose
    Nor any footfalls stain,
    But round their beauty on azure evenings
    Only the oreads go on gauzy wings,
    Only the oreads troop with dance and song
    And airy beings in rainbow mists who throng
    Out of those wonderful worlds that lie afar
    Betwixt the outmost cloud and the nearest star.

    Like the moon, sanguine in the orient night
    Shines the red flower in her beautiful hair.
    Her breasts are distant islands of delight
    Upon a sea where all is soft and fair.
    Those robes that make a silken sheath
    For each lithe attitude that flows beneath,
    Shrouding in scented folds sweet warmths and tumid flowers,
    Call them far clouds that half emerge
    Beyond a sunset ocean's utmost verge,
    Hiding in purple shade and downpour of soft showers
    Enchanted isles by mortal foot untrod,
    And there in humid dells resplendent orchids nod;
    There always from serene horizons blow
    Soul-easing gales and there all spice-trees grow
    That Phoenix robbed to line his fragrant nest
    Each hundred years in Araby the Blest.

    Star of the South that now through orient mist
    At nightfall off Tampico or Belize
    Greetest the sailor rising from those seas
    Where first in me, a fond romanticist,
    The tropic sunset's bloom on cloudy piles
    Cast out industrious cares with dreams of fabulous isles -- -
    Thou lamp of the swart lover to his tryst,
    O'er planted acres at the jungle's rim
    Reeking with orange-flower and tuberose,
    Dear to his eyes thy ruddy splendor glows
    Among the palms where beauty waits for him;
    Bliss too thou bringst to our greening North,
    Red scintillant through cherry-blossom rifts,
    Herald of summer-heat, and all the gifts
    And all the joys a summer can bring forth -- ---

    Be thou my star, for I have made my aim
    To follow loveliness till autumn-strown
    Sunder the sinews of this flower-like frame
    As rose-leaves sunder when the bud is blown.
    Ay, sooner spirit and sense disintegrate
    Than reconcilement to a common fate
    Strip the enchantment from a world so dressed
    In hues of high romance. I cannot rest
    While aught of beauty in any path untrod
    Swells into bloom and spreads sweet charms abroad
    Unworshipped of my love. I cannot see
    In Life's profusion and passionate brevity
    How hearts enamored of life can strain too much
    In one long tension to hear, to see, to touch.
    Now on each rustling night-wind from the South
    Far music calls; beyond the harbor mouth
    Each outbound argosy with sail unfurled
    May point the path through this fortuitous world
    That holds the heart from its desire. Away!
    Where tinted coast-towns gleam at close of day,
    Where squares are sweet with bells, or shores thick set
    With bloom and bower, with mosque and minaret.
    Blue peaks loom up beyond the coast-plains here,
    White roads wind up the dales and disappear,
    By silvery waters in the plains afar
    Glimmers the inland city like a star,
    With gilded gates and sunny spires ablaze
    And burnished domes half-seen through luminous haze,
    Lo, with what opportunity Earth teems!
    How like a fair its ample beauty seems!
    Fluttering with flags its proud pavilions rise:
    What bright bazaars, what marvelous merchandise,
    Down seething alleys what melodious din,
    What clamor importuning from every booth!
    At Earth's great market where Joy is trafficked in
    Buy while thy purse yet swells with golden Youth!

    Alan Seeger

. Dante. Inferno, Canto XXVI

    FLORENCE, rejoice! For thou o'er land and sea
    So spread'st thy pinions that the fame of thee
    Hath reached no less into the depths of Hell.
    So noble were the five I found to dwell
    Therein -- - thy sons -- - whence shame accrues to me
    And no great praise is thine; but if it be
    That truth unveil in dreamings before dawn,
    Then is the vengeful hour not far withdrawn
    When Prato shall exult within her walls
    To see thy suffering. Whate'er befalls,
    Let it come soon, since come it must, for later,
    Each year would see my grief for thee the greater.

    We left; and once more up the craggy side
    By the blind steps of our descent, my guide,
    Remounting, drew me on. So we pursued
    The rugged path through that steep solitude,
    Where rocks and splintered fragments strewed the land
    So thick, that foot availed not without hand.
    Grief filled me then, and still great sorrow stirs
    My heart as oft as memory recurs
    To what I saw; that more and more I rein
    My natural powers, and curb them lest they strain
    Where Virtue guide not, -- - that if some good star,
    Or better thing, have made them what they are,
    That good I may not grudge, nor turn to ill.

    As when, reclining on some verdant hill -- -
    What season the hot sun least veils his power
    That lightens all, and in that gloaming hour
    The fly resigns to the shrill gnat -- - even then,
    As rustic, looking down, sees, o'er the glen,
    Vineyard, or tilth where lies his husbandry,
    Fireflies innumerable sparkle: so to me,
    Come where its mighty depth unfolded, straight
    With flames no fewer seemed to scintillate
    The shades of the eighth pit. And as to him
    Whose wrongs the bears avenged, dim and more dim
    Elijah's chariot seemed, when to the skies
    Uprose the heavenly steeds; and still his eyes
    Strained, following them, till naught remained in view
    But flame, like a thin cloud against the blue:
    So here, the melancholy gulf within,
    Wandered these flames, concealing each its sin,
    Yet each, a fiery integument,
    Wrapped round a sinner.

                                           On the bridge intent,
    Gazing I stood, and grasped its flinty side,
    Or else, unpushed, had fallen. And my guide,
    Observing me so moved, spake, saying: "Behold
    Where swathed each in his unconsuming fold,
    The spirits lie confined." Whom answering,
    "Master," I said, "thy words assurance bring
    To that which I already had supposed;
    And I was fain to ask who lies enclosed
    In the embrace of that dividing fire,
    Which seems to curl above the fabled pyre,
    Where with his twin-born brother, fiercely hated,
    Eteocles was laid." He answered, "Mated
    In punishment as once in wrath they were,
    Ulysses there and Diomed incur
    The eternal pains; there groaning they deplore
    The ambush of the horse, which made the door
    For Rome's imperial seed to issue: there
    In anguish too they wail the fatal snare
    Whence dead Deidamia still must grieve,
    Reft of Achilles; likewise they receive
    Due penalty for the Palladium."
    "Master," I said, "if in that martyrdom
    The power of human speech may still be theirs,
    I pray -- - and think it worth a thousand prayers -- -
    That, till this horned flame be come more nigh,
    We may abide here; for thou seest that I
    With great desire incline to it." And he:
    "Thy prayer deserves great praise; which willingly
    I grant; but thou refrain from speaking; leave
    That task to me; for fully I conceive
    What thing thou wouldst, and it might fall perchance
    That these, being Greeks, would scorn thine utterance."

    So when the flame had come where time and place
    Seemed not unfitting to my guide with grace
    To question, thus he spoke at my desire:
    "O ye that are two souls within one fire,
    If in your eyes some merit I have won -- -
    Merit, or more or less -- - for tribute done
    When in the world I framed my lofty verse:
    Move not; but fain were we that one rehearse
    By what strange fortunes to his death he came."
    The elder crescent of the antique flame
    Began to wave, as in the upper air
    A flame is tempest-tortured, here and there
    Tossing its angry height, and in its sound
    As human speech it suddenly had found,
    Rolled forth a voice of thunder, saying: "When,
    The twelvemonth past in Circe's halls, again
    I left Gaeta's strand (ere thither came
    Aeneas, and had given it that name)
    Not love of son, nor filial reverence,
    Nor that affection that might recompense
    The weary vigil of Penelope,
    Could so far quench the hot desire in me
    To prove more wonders of the teeming earth, -- -
    Of human frailty and of manly worth.
    In one small bark, and with the faithful band
    That all awards had shared of Fortune's hand,
    I launched once more upon the open main.
    Both shores I visited as far as Spain, -- -
    Sardinia, and Morocco, and what more
    The midland sea upon its bosom wore.
    The hour of our lives was growing late
    When we arrived before that narrow strait
    Where Hercules had set his bounds to show
    That there Man's foot shall pause, and further none shall go.
    Borne with the gale past Seville on the right,
    And on the left now swept by Ceuta's site,
    `Brothers,' I cried, `that into the far West
    Through perils numberless are now addressed,
    In this brief respite that our mortal sense
    Yet hath, shrink not from new experience;
    But sailing still against the setting sun,
    Seek we new worlds where Man has never won
    Before us. Ponder your proud destinies:
    Born were ye not like brutes for swinish ease,
    But virtue and high knowledge to pursue.'
    My comrades with such zeal did I imbue
    By these brief words, that scarcely could I then
    Have turned them from their purpose; so again
    We set out poop against the morning sky,
    And made our oars as wings wherewith to fly
    Into the Unknown. And ever from the right
    Our course deflecting, in the balmy night
    All southern stars we saw, and ours so low,
    That scarce above the sea-marge it might show.
    So five revolving periods the soft,
    Pale light had robbed of Cynthia, and as oft
    Replenished since our start, when far and dim
    Over the misty ocean's utmost rim,
    Rose a great mountain, that for very height
    Passed any I had seen. Boundless delight
    Filled us -- - alas, and quickly turned to dole:
    For, springing from our scarce-discovered goal,
    A whirlwind struck the ship; in circles three
    It whirled us helpless in the eddying sea;
    High on the fourth the fragile stern uprose,
    The bow drove down, and, as Another chose,
    Over our heads we heard the surging billows close."

    Alan Seeger

. Ariosto. Orlando Furioso, Canto X, 91-99

    RUGGEIRO, to amaze the British host,
    And wake more wonder in their wondering ranks,
    The bridle of his winged courser loosed,
    And clapped his spurs into the creature's flanks;
    High in the air, even to the topmost banks
    Of crudded cloud, uprose the flying horse,
    And now above the Welsh, and now the Manx,
    And now across the sea he shaped his course,
    Till gleaming far below lay Erin's emerald shores.

    There round Hibernia's fabled realm he coasted,
    Where the old saint had left the holy cave,
    Sought for the famous virtue that it boasted
    To purge the sinful visitor and save.
    Thence back returning over land and wave,
    Ruggiero came where the blue currents flow,
    The shores of Lesser Brittany to lave,
    And, looking down while sailing to and fro,
    He saw Angelica chained to the rock below.

    'Twas on the Island of Complaint -- - well named,
    For there to that inhospitable shore,
    A savage people, cruel and untamed,
    Brought the rich prize of many a hateful war.
    To feed a monster that bestead them sore,
    They of fair ladies those that loveliest shone,
    Of tender maidens they the tenderest bore,
    And, drowned in tears and making piteous moan,
    Left for that ravening beast, chained on the rocks alone.

    Thither transported by enchanter's art,
    Angelica from dreams most innocent
    (As the tale mentioned in another part)
    Awoke, the victim for that sad event.
    Beauty so rare, nor birth so excellent,
    Nor tears that make sweet Beauty lovelier still,
    Could turn that people from their harsh intent.
    Alas, what temper is conceived so ill
    But, Pity moving not, Love's soft enthralment will?

    On the cold granite at the ocean's rim
    These folk had chained her fast and gone their way;
    Fresh in the softness of each delicate limb
    The pity of their bruising violence lay.
    Over her beauty, from the eye of day
    To hide its pleading charms, no veil was thrown.
    Only the fragments of the salt sea-spray
    Rose from the churning of the waves, wind-blown,
    To dash upon a whiteness creamier than their own.

    Carved out of candid marble without flaw,
    Or alabaster blemishless and rare,
    Ruggiero might have fancied what he saw,
    For statue-like it seemed, and fastened there
    By craft of cunningest artificer;
    Save in the wistful eyes Ruggiero thought
    A teardrop gleamed, and with the rippling hair
    The ocean breezes played as if they sought
    In its loose depths to hide that which her hand might not.

    Pity and wonder and awakening love
    Strove in the bosom of the Moorish Knight.
    Down from his soaring in the skies above
    He urged the tenor of his courser's flight.
    Fairer with every foot of lessening height
    Shone the sweet prisoner. With tightening reins
    He drew more nigh, and gently as he might:
    "O lady, worthy only of the chains
    With which his bounden slaves the God of Love constrains,

    "And least for this or any ill designed,
    Oh, what unnatural and perverted race
    Could the sweet flesh with flushing stricture bind,
    And leave to suffer in this cold embrace
    That the warm arms so hunger to replace?"
    Into the damsel's cheeks such color flew
    As by the alchemy of ancient days
    If whitest ivory should take the hue
    Of coral where it blooms deep in the liquid blue.

    Nor yet so tightly drawn the cruel chains
    Clasped the slim ankles and the wounded hands,
    But with soft, cringing attitudes in vain
    She strove to shield her from that ardent glance.
    So, clinging to the walls of some old manse,
    The rose-vine strives to shield her tender flowers,
    When the rude wind, as autumn weeks advance,
    Beats on the walls and whirls about the towers
    And spills at every blast her pride in piteous showers.

    And first for choking sobs she might not speak,
    And then, "Alas!" she cried, "ah, woe is me!"
    And more had said in accents faint and weak,
    Pleading for succor and sweet liberty.
    But hark! across the wide ways of the sea
    Rose of a sudden such a fierce affray
    That any but the brave had turned to flee.
    Ruggiero, turning, looked. To his dismay,
    Lo, where the monster came to claim his quivering prey!

    Alan Seeger

. On a Theme in the Greek Anthology

    THY petals yet are closely curled,
    Rose of the world,
    Around their scented, golden core;
    Nor yet has Summer purpled o'er
    Thy tender clusters that begin
    To swell within
    The dewy vine-leaves' early screen
    Of sheltering green.

    O hearts that are Love's helpless prey,
    While yet you may,
    Fly, ere the shaft is on the string!
    The fire that now is smouldering
    Shall be the conflagration soon
    Whose paths are strewn
    With torment of blanched lips and eyes
    That agonize.

    Alan Seeger

. After an Epigram of Clement Marot

    THE lad I was I longer now
    Nor am nor shall be evermore.
    Spring's lovely blossoms from my brow
    Have shed their petals on the floor.
    Thou, Love, hast been my lord, thy shrine
    Above all gods' best served by me.
    Dear Love, could life again be mine
    How bettered should that service be!

    Alan Seeger



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