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Thetis

    I

    ON THE paved parapet
    you will step carefully
    from amber Clones to onyx
    flecked with violet,
    mingled with light,
    half showing the sea-grass
    and sea-sand underneath,
    reflecting your white feet
    and the gay strap crimson
    as lily-buds of Arion,
    and the gold that binds your feet.

    II

    You will pass
    beneath the island disk
    (and myrtle-wood,
    the carved support of it)
    and the white stretch
    of its white beach,
    curved as the moon crescent
    or ivory when some fine hand
    chisels it:
    when the sun slips
    through the far edge,
    there is rare amber
    through the sea,
    and flecks of it
    glitter on the dolphin's back
    and jeweled halter
    and harness and bit
    as he sways under it.

    H.D.

Circe

    IT WAS easy enough
    to bend them to my wish,
    it was easy enough
    to alter them with a touch,
    but you
    adrift on the great sea,
    how shall I call you back?

    Cedar and white ash,
    rock-cedar and sand plants
    and tamarisk
    red cedar and white cedar
    and black cedar from the inmost forest,
    fragrance upon fragrance
    and all of my sea-magic is for naught.

    It was easy enough--
    a thought called them
    from the sharp edges of the earth;
    they prayed for a touch,
    they cried for the sight of my face,
    they entreated me
    till in pity
    I turned each to his own self.

    Panther and panther,
    then a black leopard
    follows close--
    black panther and red
    and a great hound,
    a god-like beast,
    cut the sand in a clear ring
    and shut me from the earth,
    and cover the sea-sound
    with their throats,
    and the sea-roar with their own barks
    and bellowing and snarls,
    and the sea-stars
    and the swirl of the sand,
    and the rock-tamarisk
    and the wind resonance--
    but not your voice.

    It is easy enough to call men
    from the edges of the earth.
    It is easy enough to summon them to my feet
    with a thought- it is beautiful to see the tall panther
    and the sleek deer-hounds
    circle in the dark.

    It is easy enough
    to make cedar and white ash fumes
    into palaces
    and to cover the sea-caves
    with ivory and onyx.
    But I would give up
    rock-fringes of coral
    and the inmost chamber
    of my island palace
    and my own gifts
    and the whole region
    of my power and magic
    for your glance.

    H.D.

Song

    YOU are as gold
    as the half-ripe grain
    that merges to gold again,
    as white as the white rain
    that beats through
    the half-opened flowers
    of the great flower tufts
    thick on the black limbs
    of an Illyrian apple bough.

    Can honey distill such fragrance
    as your bright hair--
    for your face is as fair as rain,
    yet as rain that lies clear
    on white honey-comb,
    lends radiance to the white wax,
    so your hair on your brow
    casts light for a shadow.

    H.D.

Phaedra

    THINK, O my soul,
    of the red sand of Crete;
    think of the earth; the heat
    burnt fissures like the great
    backs of the temple serpents;
    think of the world you knew;
    as the tide crept, the land
    burned with a lizard-blue
    where the dark sea met the sand.

    Think, O my soul--
    what power has struck you blind--
    is there no desert-root, no forest-berry
    pine-pitch or knot of fir
    known that can help the soul
    caught in a force, a power,
    passionless, not its own?

    So I scatter, so implore
    Gods of Crete, summoned before
    with slighter craft;
    ah, hear my prayer:

    Grant to my soul
    the body that it wore,
    trained to your thought,
    that kept and held your power,
    as the petal of black poppy,
    the opiate of the flower.

    For art undreamt in Crete,
    strange art and dire,
    in counter-charm prevents my charm
    limits my power:
    pine-cone I heap,
    grant answer to my prayer.

    No more, my soul--
    as the black cup, sullen and dark with fire,
    burns till beside it, noon's bright heat
    is withered, filled with dust--

    and into that noon-heat
    grown drab and stale,
    suddenly wind and thunder and swift rain,
    till the scarlet flower is wrecked
    in the slash of the white hail.

    The poppy that my heart was,
    formed to bind all mortals,
    made to strike and gather hearts
    like flame upon an altar,
    fades and shrinks, a red leaf
    drenched and torn in the cold rain.

    H.D.

Egypt

    (To E. A. Poe)

    EGYPT had cheated us,
    for Egypt took
    through guile and craft
    our treasure and our hope,
    Egypt had maimed us,
    offered dream for life,
    an opiate for a kiss,
    and death for both.

    White poison flower we loved
    and the black spike
    of an ungarnered bush--
    (a spice--or without taste--
    we wondered--then we asked
    others to take and sip
    and watched their death)
    Egypt we loved, though hate
    should have withheld our touch.

    Egypt had given us knowledge,
    and we took, blindly,
    through want of heart,
    what Egypt brought;
    knowing all poison,
    what was that or this,
    more or less perilous,
    than this or that.

    We pray you, Egypt,
    by what perverse fate,
    has poison brought with knowledge,
    given us this--
    not days of trance,
    shadow, fore-doom of death,
    but passionate grave thought,
    belief enhanced,
    ritual returned and magic;

    Even in the uttermost black pit
    of the forbidden knowledge,
    wisdom's glance,
    the grey eyes following
    in the mid-most: desert--
    great shaft of rose,
    fire shed across our path,
    upon the face grown grey, a light,
    Hellas re-born from death.

    H.D.


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