In gorgeous plumage, azure, gold and green,
They trample the pale flowers, and their shrill cry
Troubles the garden’s bright tranquillity!
Proud birds of Beauty, splendid and serene,
Spreading their brilliant fans, screen after screen
Of burnished sapphire, gemmed with mimic suns–
Strange magic eyes that, so the legend runs,
Will bring misfortune to this fair demesne…
And my gay youth, that, vain and debonair,
Sits in the sunshine–tired at last of play
(A child, that finds the morning all too long),
Tempts with its beauty that disastrous day
When in the gathering darkness of despair
Death shall strike dumb the laughing mouth of song.
A WEB of gold is the western sky !
Golden strands of the sun’s bright hair
Caught in the grey clouds everywhere !
Or the tangled skeins of day’s broidery ?
… And now it is that the twilight sings;
Twilight … whose voice is full of tears
Trailing athwart our hopes and fears
The drooping bows of her dusky wings !
In the fading light we dream of death
And closer cling in a long embrace.
O ! pure pale girl with the passionate face
Life strips us naked … but leaves us breath.
But when our bodies lie strange and still
They will bury us swiftly out of sight,
Shut us away from the warm sunlight . . .
How dark the darkness will be and chill !
But ah ! I forgot, we shall not feel
Folded safe in our last deep sleep
Never again to kiss and weep —
While our lips’ rose colour the roses steal.
Dear, never again to know regret.
With its iron hand laid on the leaping heart
Its fingers thrust where the wide wounds smart,
The wounds of memory bleeding yet. . . .
Ah ! but the kisses, the tears — the fleet
Delights — slow sorrows, are life — in vain
To praise white peace when the wine of pain,
Fate’s purple wine, is so fiery sweet !
Think you we should be glad to die
Now . . . when the stars are coming soon
And the daylight pales, and the primrose moon
Is a stemless flower in a silver sky. …
From Opals, 1897.
I HAVE loved statues . . . spangled dawns have seen
Me bowed before their beauty . . . when the green
And silver world of Spring wears radiantly
The morning rainbows of an opal sky . .
And I have chanted curious madrigals
To charm their coldness, twined for coronals
Blossoming branches, thinking thus to change
Their still contempt for mortal love, their bright
Proud scorn to something delicate and strange,
More sweet, more marvellous, than mere delight !
I have loved statues—passionately prone
My body worshipped the white form of stone!!
And like a flower that lifts its chalice up
Towards the light—my soul became a cup
That over-brimming with enchanted wine
Of ecstasy—was raised to the divine
Indifferent lips of some young silent God
Standing aloof from all our tears and strife,
Tranced in the paradise of dreams, he trod
In the untroubled summer of his life
I have loved statues . . . and at night the cold
Mysterious moon behind a mask of gold—
Or veiled in silver veils—has seen my pride
Utterly broken—seen the dream denied
For which I pleaded—heedless that for me
The miracle of joy could never be . . .
As in old legends beautiful and strange,
When bright gods loved fair mortals born to die,
And the frail daughters of despair and change
Became the brides of immortality ?
From The Blue Bird (1905)