The Race's Splendor
The race's splendor lifts her lip, exposes
Amid her scarlet smile her little teeth;
The years are sand the wind plays with; beneath
The prisoned music of her deathless roses.
Within frostbitten rock she's fixed and glassed;
Now man may look upon her without fear.
But her contemptuous eyes back through him stare
And shear his fatuous sheep when he has passed.
Lilith she is dead and safely tombed
And man may plant and prune with naught to bruit
Hie heired and ancient lot to which he's doomed,
For quiet drowse the flocks when wolf is mute—
Ay, Lilith she is dead, and she is wombed,
And break his vine, and slowly eats the fruit.
Trumpets of sun to silence fall
On house and barn and stack and wall.
Within the cottage, slowly wheeling,
The lamplight's gold turns on the ceiling.
Beneath the stake and windless vane
Cattle stamp and munch their grain;
Below the starry apple bough
Leans the warped and clotted plow.
The moon rolls up, while far away
And thin with sorrow, the sheepdog's bay
Fills the valley with lonely sound.
Slow leaves of darkness steal around.
The watch the watchman, Death will keep
And man in amnesty may sleep.
The world is still, for she is old
And many's the bead of a life she's told.
Her gossip there, the watching moon
View hill and stream and wave and dune
And many 's the fair one she's seen wither:
The pass and pass, she cares not whither—
Lovers' vows by her made bright,
The outcast cursing at her light;
Mazed within her lambence lies
All the strife of flesh that dies.
Then through the darkened room with whispers speaking
There comes to man the sleep that all are seeking.
The lurking thief, in sharp regret
Watches the far world, waking yet,
But which in sleep will soon be still;
While he upon his misty hill
Hears a dark bird briefly cry
From its thicket on the sky,
And curses the moon because her light
Marks every outcast under night.
Still swings the murderer, bent of knees
In a slightly strained repose,
Nor feels the faint hand of the breeze:
He now with Solomon all things knows:
That, lastly, breath is to a man
But to want and fret a span.
Grey the Day
Gray the day, all the year is cold,
Across the empty land the swallows' cry
Marks the southflown spring. Naught is bowled
Save winter, in the sky.
O sorry earth, when this bleak bitter sleep
Stirs and turns and time once more is green,
In empty path and lane and grass will creep
With none to tread it clean.
April and May and June, and all the dearth
Of heart to green it for, to hurt and wake;
What good is budding, gray November earth?
No need to break your sleep for greening's sake.
The hushed plaint of wind in stricken trees
Shivers the grass in path and lane
And Grief and Time are tideless golden seas—
Hush, hush! He's home again.
Over the World's Rim
Over the world's rim, drawing bland November
Reluctant behind them, drawing the moons of cold:
What do their lonely voices wake to remember
In this dust ere 'twas flesh? what restless old
Dream a thousand years was safely sleeping
Wakes my blood to sharp unease? what horn
Rings out to them? Was I free once, sweeping
Their Ewild and lonely skies ere I was born?
The hand that shaped my body, that gave me vision,
Made me a slave to clay for a fee of breath.
Sweep on, O wild and lonely: mine the derision,
Then the splendor and speed, the cleanness of death.
Over the world's rim, out of some splendid noon,
Seeking some high desire, and not in vain,
They fill and empty the red and dying moon
And, crying, cross the rim of the world again.