JEZEBEL;
AND OTHER TRAGIC POEMS.

BY COUNT VLADIMIR SVAREFF.1

Edited, with an Introduction and Epilogue, by ALEISTER CROWLEY.

1899.

DEDICACE.

LONDRES, Juin 1898.

PEINTRE, que ton amour inspire

Des chansons toujours plus sublimes,

Malgre qu'aujourd'hui ma mauvaise lyre

Chante l'abime.

Nos espoirs, nos desirs nous rendent

Des amis chers aux dieux;

Demain, ma voix, plus haute et plus profonde,

Chante les cieux.

A GERALD.2

 

PERDITA.

LIKE leaves that fall before the sullen wind

At summer’s parting kiss and autumn’s call,

Lost thoughts fly half-forgotten from my mind,

Like leaves that fall.

They shall not come again; the wintry pall

Of consciousness clouds o’er them; they shall find

No rest, no hope, no tear, no funeral.

Into the night, despairing, bleeding, blind,

They pass, nor know their former place at all,

Lost to my soul, to God, to all mankind,

Like leaves that fall. {129A}

 

JEZEBEL.

PART I.

A LION’S mane, a leopard’s skin

Across my dusty shoulders thrown;

A swart fierce face, with eyes where sin

Lurks like a serpent by a stone.

A man driven forth by lust to seek

Rest from himself on Carmel’s peak.

A prophet3 with wild hair behind,

Streaming in fiery clusters! Yea,

Tangled with vehemence of the wind,

And knotted with the tears that slay;

And all my face parched up and dried,

And all my body crucified.

Ofttimes the Spirit of the Lord

Descends and floods me with his breath;

My words are fashioned as a sword,

My voice is like the voice of death.

The thunder of the Spirit’s wings

Brings terror to the hearts of kings.

Anon, and I am driven out

In desert places by desire;

My mouth is salt and dry; I doubt

If hell hath such another fire;

If God’s damnation can devise

A lust to match these agonies. {129B}

The desert wind my body burns,

The voice of flesh consumes my soul;

My body towards the city turns,

My spirit seeks its fierier goal;

In wells of heaven to quench my thirst,

And take God’s hand among the first.

I conquered self; I grew at last

A prophet chosen of the Lord;

I blew the trumpet’s iron blast

That called on Zimri Omri’s sword;

My voice inflamed the fiery steel

That was to smite upon Jezreel.

And now, I haste from yonder sands,

With fervour filled, to say God’s doom

To Ahab of the bloody hands,

The spoiler of his father’s tomb,

The slayer of the vineyard king.

God’s judgment, and his fate, I bring.

The city gleams afar,; I see

Samarina’s white walls on high;

The mountains echo back to me

The vengeful murmur of the sky;

All heaven and earth on me attend

To prophesy the tyrant’s end.

The gates are close because of night

Whose heavy breath infects the air;

The dog-star gleams, a devilish light:

I thought I saw behind me glare

The eyes of fiends. I thought I heard

An evil laugh, a mocking word.

The gates swing open at the Name,

Without a warder roused from sleep;

I pass, with face of burning flame,

That is not quenched, although I weep.

(For even my tears are tears of fire,

For loathing, madness, and desire.)

Ah God! the traps for fervent feet!

The morrow beaconed, and I came

By where the golden groves of wheat

In summer glories fiercely flame;

To those white courts, by princes trod,

Where Ahab sat, and mocked at God. {130A}

Where Ahab sat: — but lo! I saw

No king, no tyrant to be curst;

But she, who filled me with blind awe,

She, for whose blood my thin veins thirst;

The blossom of a painted mouth

And bare breasts tinctured with the south.

For lo! the harlot Jezebel!

Her hands dropped perfume, and her tongue

(A flame from the dark heart of hell,

The ivory-barred mouth, that stung

With unimaginable pangs)

Shot out at me, and Hell fixed gangs.

Her purple robes, her royal crown,

The jewelled girdle of her waist,

Her feet with murder splashed, and brown

With the sharp lips that fawn and taste,

The crimson snakes that minister

To those unwearying lust of her.

And all her woman’s scent did drift

A steam of poison through the air;

The haze of sunshine seems to lift

And toil in tangles of black hair,

The hair that waves, and winds, and bites,

And glistens with unholy lights.

For lo! she saw me, and beheld

My trembling lips curled back to curse,

Laughed with strong scorn, whose music knelled

The empire of God’s universe.

And on my haggard face upturned

She spat! Ah God! how my cheek burned!

Then, as a man betrayed, and doomed

Already, I arose and went,

And wrestled with myself, consumed

With passion for that sacrament

Of shame. From the day unto this

My cheek desires that hideous kiss. {130B}

Her hate, her scorn, her cruel blows,

Fill my whole life, consume my breath;

Her red-fanged hatred in me glows,

I lust for her, and hell, and death.

I see that ghastly look, and yearn

Toward the brands of her that burn.

Sleep shuns me; dreams divide the night,

(My parched throat thirsty for her veins)

That she and I with deep delight

Suck from death’s womb infernal pains,

Whose fire consumes, destroys, devours

Through night’s insatiable hours.

And altogether filled with love,

And altogether filled with sin,

The little sparks and noises move

About the softness of her skin.

Her pleasures and her passions purr

For the delight I have of her.

Aching with all the pangs of night

My shuddering body swoons; my eyes

Absorb her eyelids’ lazy light,

And read her bosom to devise

Fresh blossoms of the heart of hell

And secret joys of Jezebel.

Her lips are fastened to my breast

To suck out blood in feverish tides;

The token of her I possessed,

Still on my withered cheek abides.

Thus slowly the desire grows

To kill and have her yet — who knows?

 

PART II.

I know. When Ramoth-Gilead’s field

Grew bloody with hot ranks of dead,

I smote amain with sword and shield;

My brows with mingled blood were red;

And on my cheek the kiss of hell,

The hatred of my Jezebel. {131A}

I waited many days. At last

The rushing of a chariot grew

Frightful through all the city vast:

Men were afraid. But I — I knew

Jehu was here, whose sword should dip

Deep in my love’s adulterous lip.

The spirit filled me. "And behold!

I saw her dead stare to the skies.

I came to her; she was not cold,

But burning with old infamies.

On her incestuous mouth I fell,

And lost my soul for Jezebel."

I followed him afoot, afire;

Beneath her window he drew rein;

She looked forth, clad in glad attire,

Haggard and hateful, once again;

And taunted him. His bastard blood

Quailed, but his violent soul withstood.

He blenched, and then with eyes of flame,

"Who is on my side? Who?" he said.

Three eunuchs, passionless, grown tame,

Grinned from behind her laughing head.

"Throw down that woman!" And my breath

Caught as they flung her out to death.

I think I died that moment. He,

Foaming for vengeance and blood-lust,

Laughed his coarse laugh of hideous glee.

Her sweet bad body in the dust

He trampled. Royal from the womb

A martyred murderess lacks a tomb!

A tigress woman, clad with sin,

And shod with infamy, who pressed

The bloody winepress of my skin,

And plucked the purple of my breast —

Her lovers in their hearts shall keep

Her memory passionate and deep.

They cast her forth on Naboth’s field

Still living, in her harlot’s dress;

Her belly stript, her thighs concealed,

For shame’s sake and for love’s no less.

Night falls; the gaping crowds abide

No longer by her stiffening side. {131B}

I crept like sleep toward the place

That held for me her evil head;

I bent like sin above her face

That dying she might kiss me dead.

I whispered "Jezebel!" She turned,

And her deep eyes with hatred burned.

"Ah! prophet, come to mock at me

And gloat on mine exceeding pain?"

"Nay, but to give my soul to thee,

And have thee spit at me again!"

She smiled — I know she smiled — she sighed,

Bit my lips through, and drank, and died!

Her murders and her blasphemies,

Her whoredoms, God has paid at last;

Upon my bosom close she lies;

Her carnal spirit holds me fast.

My blood, my infamy, my pain,

Seal my subjection and her reign.

My veins poured out her marriage cup,

For holy water her cruel tongue;

For blessing of white hands raised up,

These perfumed infamies unsung;

For God’s breath, her sharp tainted breath;

For marriage bed, the bed of death.

The hounds that scavenge, fierce and lean,

Snarl in the moonlight; in the sky

The vulture hangs, a ghost unclean;

The lewd hyaena’s sleepless eye

Darts through the distance; these admit

My lordship over her — and it.

The host is lifted up. Behold

The vintage spilt, the broken bread!

I feast upon the cruel cold

Pale body that was ripe and red.

Only, her head, her palms, her feet,

I kissed all night, and did not eat.

So, and not otherwise, the word

Of God was utterly fulfilled.

So, and not otherwise. I heard

Her spirit cry, by death not stilled:

"My sin is perfect in thy blood,

And thou and I have conquered God." {132A}

Now let me die, at last desired,

At last beloved of thee my queen;

Now let me die, with blood attired,

Thy servant naked and obscene;

To thy white skull, thy palms, thy feet,

Clinging, dead, infamous, complete.

Now let me die, to mix my soul

With thy red soul, to join our hands,

To weld us in one perfect whole,

To link us with desirous bands.

Now let me die, to mate in hell

With thee, O harlot Jezebel.

 

CONCERNING CERTAIN SINS.

SOME sins assume a garb so fine and white

That the blue veil of Heaven seems to shade

Their purity. They are winged so wide and bright

That even angels’ pinions seem to fade,

And the archangel’s wing recedes in night: —

Ay! even God seems perturbed and afraid

Because it wears so holy a garb of light

Of perfumed fire immaculately made.

These sins are deadly. God is merciless

For Love that joins Man’s passion with His power,

And makes to bloom on earth a fairer flower

Than heaven bears. Our token of success

Is that displeasure toward our sin unnamed

Of a fierce demon jealous and ashamed.

 

A SAINT’S DAMNATION.

YOU buy my spirit with those peerless eyes

That burn my soul; you loose the torrent stream

Of my desire; you make my lips your prize,

And on them burns the whole life’s hope: you deem

You buy a heart; but I am well aware

How my damnation dwells in that supreme {132B}

Passion to feed upon your shoulders hare,

And pass the dewy twilight of our sin

In the intolerable flames of hair

That clothe my body from your head; you win

The devil’s bargain; I am yours to kill,

Yours, for one kiss; my spirit for your skin!

O bitter love, consuming all my will!

O love destroying, that hast drained my life

Of all those fountains of dear blood that fill

My heart! O woman, would I call you wife?

Would I content you with one touch divine

To flood your spirit with the clinging strife

Of perfect passionate joy, the joy of wine,

The drunkenness of extreme pleasure, filled

From sin’s amazing cup? Oh, mine, mine, mine,

Mine, if your kisses maddened me or killed,

Mine, at the price of my damnation deep,

Mine, if you will, as once your glances willed!

Take me, or break me, slay or sooth to sleep,

If only yours one hour, one perfect hour,

Remembrance and despair and hope to steep

In the infernal potion of that flower,

My poisonous passion for your blood! Behold!

How utterly I yield, how gladly dower

Our sin with my own spirit’s quenched gold,

Clothe Love with my own soul’s immortal power,

Give thee my body as a fire to hold —

O love, no words, no songs — your breast my bower! {133A}

 

LOT.

“And while he lingered ... they brought him forth, and set him without the city.” — GEN. xix. 16.

TURN back from safety: in my love abide,

Whose lips are warm as when, a virgin bride,

I clung to thee ashamed and very glad,

Whose breasts are lordlier for the pain they had,

Whose arms cleave closer than thy spouse’s own,

Thy spouse — O lover, kiss me, and atone!

All my veins bleed for love, my ripe breasts beat

And lay their bleeding blossoms at thy feet!

Spurn me no more! O bid these strangers go;

Turn to my lips till their cup overflow;

Hurt me with kisses, kill me with desire,

Consume me and destroy me with the fire

Of bleeding passion straining at the heart,

Touched to the core by sweetnesses that smart;

Bitten by fiery snakes, whose poisonous breath

Swoons in the midnight, and dissolves to death!

Ah! let me perish so, and not endure

Thy falsehood who have known thy love was sure,

Built up by sighs a palace of long years —

Lo! it was faery, and the spell of tears

Dissolves it utterly. O bid them go,

These white-faced boys, where calmer rivers flow

And birds less passionate invoke the spring

Or seek their loves with weaker, wearier wing.

Turn back from safety! Let God’s rivers pour

Brimstone and fire, and all his fountains roar

Lava and hail of hell upon my head,

So be he leave us altogether dead,

Burnt in that shameful whirlwind of his ire,

Consumed in one tall pyramid of fire {133B}

Whose bowers of flame shall tell the sky of God

How we despised his feet with thunder shod,

And conquered, clasping, all the host of death.

Turn to me, touch me, mix thy very breath

With mine to mingle floods of fiery dew

With flames of purple, like the sea shot through

With golden glances of a fiercer star.

Turn to me, bend above me, you may char

These olive shoulders with an old-time kiss,

And fix thy mouth upon me for such bliss

Of sudden rage rekindled. Turn again,

And make delight the minister of pain,

And pain the father of a new delight.

And light a lamp of torture for the night

Too grievous to be borne without a cry

To rend the very bowels of the sky

And make the archangel gasp — a sudden pang,

Most like a traveller stricken by the fang

Of the black adder whose squat head springs up,

A flash of death, beneath a cactus cup.

Ah turn! my bosom for thy love is cold;

My arms are empty, and my lips can hold

No converse with thee far away like this.

O for that communing pregnant with a kiss

That is reborn when lips are set together

To link our souls in one desirous tether,

And wield our very bodies into one.

Ah fiend Jehovah, what then have we done

To earn thy curse — is love like ours too strong

To dwell before thee, and do thy throne no wrong?

Art thou grown jealous of the fiery band?

Lo! thou hast spoken, and thy strong command

Bade earth and air divide, and on the sea

Thy spirit moved — and thou must envy me!

Gird all thy godhead to destroy a man

Whose little moment is a single span,

Whose small desire is nothing — and thy power

Must root from out his bosom the fair flower {134A}

Of passion! Listen to thine own voice yet;

"A rich man many flocks and herds did get

And took the poor man’s lamb." Thou art the man!

Our love must lie beneath thy bitter ban!

Thou petty, envious God! My king, be sure

His brute force shall not to the end endure;

Some stronger soul than thine shall wrest his crown

And thrust him from his own high heaven down

To some obscure forgetful hell. For me

Forsake thy hopes in him! We worship, we,

Rather the dear delights we know and hold;

The first cool kiss, within the water cold

That draws its music from some bubbling well,

Looks long, looks deadly, looks desirable,

The touch that fires, the next kiss, and the whole

Body embracing, symbol of the soul,

And all the perfect passion of an hour.

Turn to me, pluck that amaranthine flower,

And leave the doubtful blossoms of the sky!

You dare not kiss me! dare not draw you nigh

Lest I should lure you to remain! nor speak

Lest you should catch the blood within your cheek

Mantling. You dared enough — so long ago! —

When to my bossom body clean as snow

You pressed your bosom till desire was pain,

And — then — that midnight — you did dare remain

Though all my limbs were bloody with your mouth

That tore their flesh to satiate its drouth,

That was not thereby satisfied! And now

A pallid coward, with sly, skulking brow,

You must leave Sodom for your spouse’s sake

Coward and coward and coward! who would take

The best flower of my life and leave me so,

Still loving you — Ah! weak — and turn to go {134B}

For fear of such a God! O blind! O fool!

To heed these strangers, and to be the tool

Of their smooth lies and monstrous miracles!

O break this bondage and cast off their spells!

Fire righteous! Thou a righteous man! A jest!

A righteous man — you always loved me best,

And even when lured by lips of wanton girls

Would turn away and sigh and touch my curls

And slip half-conscious to the old embrace: —

And now you will not let me see your face

Or hear your voice or touch you. Ah! the hour!

He moves. Come back, come back, my life’s one flower!

Come back. One kiss before your leave me. So!

Stop — turn — one little kiss before you go;

It is my right — you must. Oh no! Oh no! {135A}

 

EPILOGUE.

To die amid the blossoms of the frost

On far fair heights; to sleep the quiet sleep

Of dead men underneath the snowy steep

Of many mountains; ever to have lost

These cares and these distrusts; to lie alone,

Watched by the distant eagle’s drowsy wing,

Stars and grey summits, and the winds that sing

Slow dirges in eternal monotone.

Such is my soul’s desire, being weary of

This vain eternity of sleepless dreams

That is my life; withal there still may be

In other worlds, the hope of other love

That this that floods my veins with poisonous streams,

And wastes with wan desire the soul of me. {135B}

 

1. Under this name the poet lay perdu in the heart of London, prosecuting, under circumstances of romantic and savage interest, his first occult studies.

2. Gerald Kelly, the eminent painter.

3. Not Elijah, as the sequel shows. Foolish contemporary reviews, however, made this silly blunder.

 

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