Words For Departure
Nothing was remembered, nothing forgotten.
When we awoke, wagons were passing on the warm summer pavements,
The window-sills were wet from rain in the night,
Birds scattered and settled over chimneypots
As among grotesque trees.
Nothing was accepted, nothing looked beyond.
Slight-voiced bells separated hour from hour,
The afternoon sifted coolness
And people drew together in streets becoming deserted.
There was a moon, and light in a shop-front,
And dusk falling like precipitous water.
Hand clasped hand
Forehead still bowed to forehead--
Nothing was lost, nothing possessed
There was no gift nor denial.
I have remembered you.
You were not the town visited once,
Nor the road falling behind running feet.
You were as awkward as flesh
And lighter than frost or ashes.
You were the rind,
And the white-juiced apple,
The song, and the words waiting for music.
You have learned the beginning;
Go from mine to the other.
Be together; eat, dance, despair,
Sleep, be threatened, endure.
You will know the way of that.
But at the end, be insolent;
Be absurd--strike the thing short off;
Be mad--only do not let talk
Wear the bloom from silence.
And go away without fire or lantern
Let there be some uncertainty about your departure.
Song For The Last Act
Now that I have your face by heart, I look
Less at its features than its darkening frame
Where quince and melon, yellow as young flame,
Lie with quilled dahlias and the shepherd's crook.
Beyond, a garden, There, in insolent ease
The lead and marble figures watch the show
Of yet another summer loath to go
Although the scythes hang in the apple trees.
Now that I have your face by heart, I look.
Now that I have your voice by heart, I read
In the black chords upon a dulling page
Music that is not meant for music's cage,
Whose emblems mix with words that shake and bleed.
The staves are shuttled over with a stark
Unprinted silence. In a double dream
I must spell out the storm, the running stream.
The beat's too swift. The notes shift in the dark.
Now that I have your voice by heart, I read.
Now that I have your heart by heart, I see
The wharves with their great ships and architraves;
The rigging and the cargo and the slaves
On a strange beach under a broken sky.
O not departure, but a voyage done!
The bales stand on the stone; the anchor weeps
Its red rust downward, and the long vine creeps
Beside the salt herb, in the lengthening sun.
Now that I have your heart by heart, I see.
I burned my life, that I may find
A passion wholly of the mind,
Thought divorced from eye and bone
Ecstasy come to breath alone.
I broke my life, to seek relief
From the flawed light of love and grief.
With mounting beat the utter fire
Charred existence and desire.
It died low, ceased its sudden thresh.
I had found unmysterious flesh--
Not the mind's avid substance--still
Passionate beyond the will.
It is yourself you seek
In a long rage,
Scanning through light and darkness
Mirrors, the page,
Where should reflected be
Those eyes and that thick hair,
That passionate look, that laughter.
You should appear
Within the book, or doubled,
Freed, in the silvered glass;
Into all other bodies
Yourself should pass.
The glass does not dissolve;
Like walls the mirrors stand;
The printed page gives back
Words by another hand.
And your infatuate eye
Meets not itself below;
Strangers lie in your arms
As I lie now.
Since you would claim the sources of my thought
Recall the meshes whence it sprang unlimed,
The reedy traps which other hands have times
To close upon it. Conjure up the hot
Blaze that it cleared so cleanly, or the snow
Devised to strike it down. It will be free.
Whatever nets draw in to prison me
At length your eyes must turn to watch it go.
My mouth, perhaps, may learn one thing too well,
My body hear no echo save its own,
Yet will the desperate mind, maddened and proud,
Seek out the storm, escape the bitter spell
That we obey, strain to the wind, be thrown
Straight to its freedom in the thunderous cloud
Men Loved Wholly Beyond Wisdom
Men loved wholly beyond wisdom
Have the staff without the banner.
Like a fire in a dry thicket
Rising within women's eyes
Is the love men must return.
Heart, so subtle now, and trembling,
What a marvel to be wise.,
To love never in this manner!
To be quiet in the fern
Like a thing gone dead and still,
Listening to the prisoned cricket
Shake its terrible dissembling
Music in the granite hill.
I had come to the house, in a cave of trees,
Facing a sheer sky.
Everything moved, -- a bell hung ready to strike,
Sun and reflection wheeled by.
When the bare eyes were before me
And the hissing hair,
Held up at a window, seen through a door.
The stiff bald eyes, the serpents on the forehead
Formed in the air.
This is a dead scene forever now.
Nothing will ever stir.
The end will never brighten it more than this,
Nor the rain blur.
The water will always fall, and will not fall,
And the tipped bell make no sound.
The grass will always be growing for hay
Deep on the ground.
And I shall stand here like a shadow
Under the great balanced day,
My eyes on the yellow dust, that was lifting in the wind,
And does not drift away.
She has no need to fear the fall
Of harvest from the laddered reach
Of orchards, nor the tide gone ebbing
From the steep beach.
Nor hold to pain's effrontery
Her body's bulwark, stern and savage,
Nor be a glass, where to forsee
What she has gathered, and what lost,
She will not find to lose again.
She is possessed by time, who once
Was loved by men.
I cannot believe that the inscrutable universe turns on an axis of suffering; surely the strange beauty of the world must somewhere rest on pure joy!Louise Bogan
Now that I know
How passion warms little
Of flesh in the mould,
And treasure is brittle,--
I'll lie here and learn
How, over their ground
Trees make a long shadow
And a light sound.
Tears In Sleep
All night the cocks crew, under a moon like day,
And I, in the cage of sleep, on a stranger's breast,
Shed tears, like a task not to be put away---
In the false light, false grief in my happy bed,
A labor of tears, set against joy's undoing.
I would not wake at your word, I had tears to say.
I clung to the bars of the dream and they were said,
And pain's derisive hand had given me rest
From the night giving off flames, and the dark renewing.
Epitaph For A Romantic Woman
She has attained the permanence
She dreamed of, where old stones lie sunning.
Untended stalks blow over her
Even and swift, like young men running.
Always in the heart she loved
Others had lived, -- she heard their laughter.
She lies where none has lain before,
Where certainly none will follow after.
O God, in the dream the terrible horse began
To paw at the air, and make for me with his blows,
Fear kept for thirty-five years poured through his mane,
And retribution equally old, or nearly, breathed through his nose.
Coward complete, I lay and wept on the ground
When some strong creature appeared, and leapt for the rein.
Another woman, as I lay half in a swound
Leapt in the air, and clutched at the leather and chain.
Give him, she said, something of yours as a charm.
Throw him, she said, some poor thing you alone claim.
No, no, I cried, he hates me; he is out for harm,
And whether I yield or not, it is all the same.
But, like a lion in a legend, when I flung the glove
Pulled from my sweating, my cold right hand;
The terrible beast, that no one may understand,
Came to my side, and put down his head in love.
Women have no wilderness in them,
They are provident instead,
Content in the tight hot cell of their hearts
To eat dusty bread.
They do not see cattle cropping red winter grass,
They do not hear
Snow water going down under culverts
Shallow and clear.
They wait, when they should turn to journeys,
They stiffen, when they should bend.
They use against themselves that benevolence
To which no man is friend.
They cannot think of so many crops to a field
Or of clean wood cleft by an axe.
Their love is an eager meaninglessness
Too tense or too lax.
They hear in any whisper that speaks to them
A shout and a cry.
As like as not, when they take life over their door-sill
They should let it go by.
Up from the bronze, I saw
Water without a flaw
Rush to its rest in air,
Reach to its rest, and fall.
Bronze of the blackest shade,
An element man-made,
Shaping upright the bare
Clear gouts of water in air.
O, as with arm and hammer,
Still it is good to strive
To beat out the image whole,
To echo the shout and stammer
When full-gushed waters, alive,
Strike on the fountain's bowl
After the air of summer.
Solitary Observation Brought Back From A Sojourn In Hell
At midnight tears
Run in your ears.
When beauty breaks and falls asunder
I feel no grief for it, but wonder.
When love, like a frail shell, lies broken,
I keep no chip of it for token.
I never had a man for friend
Who did not know that love must end.
I never had a girl for lover
Who could discern when love was over.
What the wise doubt, the fool believes--
Who is it, then, that love deceives?
This youth too long has heard the break
Of waters in a land of change.
He goes to see what suns can make
From soil more indurate and strange.
He cuts what holds his days together
And shuts him in, as lock on lock:
The arrowed vane announcing weather,
The tripping racket of a clock;
Seeking, I think, a light that waits
Still as a lamp upon a shelf, --
A land with hills like rocky gates
Where no sea leaps upon itself.
But he will find that nothing dares
To be enduring, save where, south
Of hidden deserts, torn fire glares
On beauty with a rusted mouth, --
Where something dreadful and another
Look quietly upon each other.
You have put your two hands upon me, and your mouth,
You have said my name as a prayer.
Here where trees are planted by the water
I have watched your eyes, cleansed from regret,
And your lips, closed over all that love cannot say,
My mother remembers the agony of her womb
And long years that seemed to promise more than this.
She says, "You do not love me,
You do not want me,
You will go away."
In the country whereto I go
I shall not see the face of my friend
Nor her hair the color of sunburnt grasses;
Together we shall not find
The land on whose hills bends the new moon
In air traversed of birds.
What have I thought of love?
I have said, "It is beauty and sorrow."
I have thought that it would bring me lost delights, and splendor
As a wind out of old time . . .
But there is only the evening here,
And the sound of willows
Now and again dipping their long oval leaves in the water.