ROSA IGNOTA

A POEM FOR PILGRIMS

BY

VICTOR B. NEUBURG

Βαια μεν, αλλα ροδα.

"There is no Samadhi without Sila." --- BUDDHA.

ROSAE
VERAE
SEMPER QUAE VIVIT
ET DILIGET



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     I SEARCHED the world for life; at length I came
         Unto a gateway I could not pass through;
     And then I turned, calling upon the name
             Of you.

     And so you came to me: each dawn was new,
         And every sunset was a scarlet flame,
     And noon was glorious in gold and blue.

     So now I care not for my mystic shame;
         Love brings no fears, and life gives nought to rue,
     So I may sing unto the love and fame
             Of you.




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                                 THE CONTENTS

                                                                 PAGE
   DEDICATION  .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .  129
   DEDICATORY LINES  .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .  131
   PROEM .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .  133
   ROSA IGNOTA
         I INVOCATION.     .     .     .     .     .     .     .  135
        II THE GARDEN.     .     .     .     .     .     .     .  139
       III AMOR INTELLECTUALIS   .     .     .     .     .     .  140
        IV DECADENCE .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .  143
         V OF THE ROSE     .     .     .     .     .     .     .  145
        VI THE VALLEY.     .     .     .     .     .     .     .  147
       VII THE SONG  .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .  150
      VIII INSPIRATION     .     .     .     .     .     .     .  154
        IX THE DESCENT INTO MATTER     .     .     .     .     .  155
         X LIFE.     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .  158
        XI MELANCHOLY.     .     .     .     .     .     .     .  159
       XII THE SEER  .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .  161
      XIII DEATH     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .  166
       XIV THE BEGINNING   .     .     .     .     .     .     .  167
        XV THE BLUE CIRCLE .     .     .     .     .     .     .  169
       XVI THE SILVER CRESCENT   .     .     .     .     .     .  172
      XVII THE RED TRIANGLE.     .     .     .     .     .     .  176
     XVIII THE YELLOW SQUARE     .     .     .     .     .     .  179
       XIX THE BLACK EGG   .     .     .     .     .     .     .  182
        XX THE KEY   .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .  185
       XXI THE POET SPEAKS .     .     .     .     .     .     .  186
      XXII IN THE END.     .     .     .     .     .     .     .  195
   THE EPILOGUE.     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .  197



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THE PROEM

A MINSTREL, through a forest wayfaring, Feeling his heart stirred in him, seized his lyre, And tuned his strings, and so began to sing: Oh! Woe to me who have to sing this thing! The sun uprose, and his song mounting higher, Reached to the summit of the Olympian hill, Filling the gods with new and strange desire To stain earth's mire with their immortal fire: Oh! Woe to me who have to sing this thing! He sang of blood, and how men mar and spill; He sang of love, and how men love and kill; He sang the world as never yet 'twas sung; He snag the will to fashion joy from ill: Oh! Woe to me who have to sing this thing! And even as he sang with easy tongue, With lips that quivered as his spirit stung, Crying aloud unto the Muse who sings, New glory flung unto him to him clung: Oh! Woe to me who have to sing this thing! Oh! Woe to me who have to sing these things; I was the Minstrel whom Enchantment brings: She led her Poet captive through the world; Alas! his wings were tangled in life's strings: Oh! Woe to me who have to sing this thing! {133} Oh! Woe to me whose soul's wings are unfurled, Within my heart's core ever shall be curled A little tendril softly that doth cling, Softly impearled, a thing from heaven hurled; Oh! Woe to me who have to sing this thing! A minstrel through a forest wayfaring Hath brought his love a shy and tender thing, A gentle bloom of the gods' gardening. Oh! woe to me who have to tell this thing! The Rose doth sing: my song hath here its sting: Oh! Woe to me who have to sing this thing! "O Rose Unknown! I heard the secret Call Out of the dark: there came unto mine ears A sound of laughter and a sound of tears, And then an utter silence. That was all; Until it happened one day to befall, There came to me the spirits of the years That I had wasted: Lose, they said, thy fears; Thou art before Love's throne imperial!" "So then I bent mine eyes unto the earth, And fell upon my knees, and cried for grace, Fearing to gaze upon the royal face. But suddenly there came the sound of mirth Mingled with tears, from that imperial throne, And then a voice: Come, Lord, unto thine own." {134} ROSA IGNOTA

I

INVOCATION

MY unknown Rose! Sweet-hearted, scented purely With all the passion of my heart, if now I sing new songs to thee Where many songs before have marked thee surely Their own, let vagrant Liberty Inform my songs; for I, of the pure brow And the soul that glows With the fervency of eld, invoke thee; for I have known thee: Wandering far into the cities I found thee, Unsuspected still, and round thee The idle worshippers that the wind hath blown thee. It is well; for I know thee and thy magic grace, And the history of thy race, And the times of eld When thou wast born, compelled By sundawn to ope thine eyes. --- Ah! Wise! Thou hast not shadowed the thunder, And thereunder Is set the manifold wonderment of thee, Star, star of the sea! ... {135} Well do I know my magic shall not avail To unveil thee. Too well I know I may not hope to impale thee On the spear of my song; my song Is thine, and thou dost not remain for long: Thou tarriest not at all, Thou guardest all man's bale Within the web of the Mystery called Time. And so no rime Of beauty or of truth shall serve Thee, until thou shalt swerve And fall. Who shall undo the wrong? What hand shall set thee free? And who shall lend his light that it may bring An end to the light I sing? My song, my song Is blasphemy to thee, Who knowest naught, I know, of thee and me; But only the wild grace, Abandoned, but in silent harmony, Under the starred sky's face, Under the green hills, free In the most sacred time, in the most secret place, Is thine. Oh, Wine! Wine! Wine! Sang the poet of the world. But what wine may suit thee, Thee, with thy petals curled, {136} And thy scented breath That only may be known in tranced death To me? --- Yea! And to all those That worship thee, my Rose, My Rose! My Rose! My Rose! For thou dost glance through all the veils of life, Lending thy light unwon, O subtlest syren thou, who wouldst entrance the sun! Behind what secret hill shall I find thee? In what chains shall I bind thee? O Rose! Wert thou but mine I would blind thee With the sacred sign Of five, Making thee mine. Alive Thou wouldst kill me. But dead, dead thou wouldst fill me With the low breath I seek, and I should be The incarnate spring's gold immortality. Rose of the mire Where courses sacred fire. ... Oh! In what far land Shall I weave thee a garland That shall contain thee, And shall not contain thee? That shall restrain thee, And shall not restrain thee? {137} O thou whose scent enchanted my vain youth From the more bitter truth Of easy things, How hast thou led me on To the mire? Thou madest thyself wings Of false and fecund fire; Thou bad'st me don An alien robe of shame. Ah! Sweetheart, thee I blame, And may not blame, For the sweet, eternal shame That seared my soul, And left my spirit free, Free! to weep before thee, And thou hast slain me; Thou hast slain me whole, I am all dead to thee, Mr Rose, my Rose, my Rose, And the things I have said to thee Are but the foolish echoes the wind blows Into mine ears from the most secret world Wherein thy faded petals dropped, And stopped Decaying, for eternally are curled Tightly new petals. So this my song shall be The last I shall sing to thee, To thee. Oh, the wind blows Thy secret to me, Rose! {138} II THE GARDEN BECAUSE of the gray dreams In the garden of yellow roses, A thrill of the quiet streams In the garden of lost delight: Ah! youth, so slim and white, The one sure blossom uncloses: When thou art lying still and dead, it blooms in the heart of the night. Shattered the golden sword in the great bronze hands of the old Hermaphrodite of the ages! O youth, so sad and wise, Shattered the strong hilt lies; The great bronze god for wages Has a hilt of gold, and eyes of gold, Beneath the sunless skies. Yet it were well to have been Idle and young and tender, Ignorantly and idly wise, disdainful in the dawn, Sweetest of all the green And gold that the gods surrender Of the sweet dead times that have seen The marriage of nymph with faun. {139} See! With an idle rime I slip again to the splendour, With eyes all blinded by time, To this thing that the gods surrender --- Ineffably sad and tender As a girl-babe born to die Ere she hath known the blue of the sky. And the light that her love shall lend her. So in an idle dream I have slipped from the yellow-gray; On the wings of song I have crossed the stream To the dawn of immortal youth --- To the long-lost love-lit day When the gods in glamour and ruth Passed as a dream away, In a dream that was known for truth. III AMOR INTELLECTUALIS THE soft, gray autumn's radiant stars Bend down, like pallid nenuphars Over a woodland pool, and I See night, blind night, beyond the sky: Autumn in London, gray and gold. Autumn in London, chaste and cold. By woodland ways, with silent tread, Pass, dusty dreams! dreams dim and dead {140} In the gold of a faded summer sun Burnished and dull, in clouds of dun And brilliant amber. Soft! Let be The tender dream! Stay here with me! So, to this dream, this dream, I give Again the pulsing life I live: The faded sunset thrills the sweet Core of my soul; --- ah! nimble feet Grown old! Oh! autumn woodlands fraught With pensiveness of waking thought! The gray night gathers, soft and cold, The old dead dreams, dead dreams of old, --- The cold, gray, windy breath of time, The old dead loves, the unsung rime: Autumn, the pale, gray, crisped star, Virginal, golden nenuphar, Folden upon itself to sleep, To sleep and die, to wake and weep Soft silver tears of old desire. O molten silver of my lyre, Transmute, transmute my autumn dream, Transmute the winding star-lit stream To the stream of olden grace and love; The earth beneath, the sky above; And round the russet autumn's chill The brown leaves swirling, swirling still Where London autumn waxes cold, Where night grows younger, fold on fold. The short, gray day fades softly down To dusk; Night bears the radiant crown {141} Of twilight's dim remembered dreams Seen through a termulous veil: who deems The past is dead --- let London lights Mingle with London's autumn nights! ... The dull-red gleams of burnished fire, The wind-harp songs of old desire, Lost, pallid, steal through Autumn's veils, The unsung songs, forgotten tales. ... Autumn in London, young and bare, Autumn in London, gray and fair. ... Through hazes of the times of eld Through mazes of the world compelled By the magic of the memory Of the love born by a sunlit sea --- Through the gray dusk a faint pink glows, The aureole of a flower that blows In the garden of the gods: too long I linger lost in sense of song; Too long I stay, too late, too late I wander by the hidden gate Of the garden, and the night-wind blows Around me still, ah, Rose, my Rose! From thee the wind-borne breezes float: From thee! the secret word, the note On the lips of a dying god, pierced through By the spear of Dawn. Is Dawn still new, Now thou art faded in the gloom? Now thou art lost in death and doom? I know not yet; nor shall I know Till thou art faded quite, and snow {142} Upon thy grave shows bare and white In the chill heart of winter's night. Still shall I feel the wind that blows. From the secret grave of thee, my Rose. IV DECADENCE TWILIGHT, that is the thin gray ghost of day, Holds the dim way of death; the darkness grows More sanguine-hearted as the hour is sped, And with less light is fed; Thine hour grows, grows away: Thou art mine, mine own, mine own, thou sanguine Rose. Thou sanguine Rose! Deep-hearted as the hour Thou bearest as a flame; more argent-shod Than the eloquent bringer of the god's delight: Here, from the edge of night I pluck thee forth, a flower Too fair for the garish day, the barren sod. My Rose! My ensanguined Rose! For ever mine, Mine in the birth of the spirit: the flash that fades, Unveiling still, lights thee, that bloomest still Till that thou dost fulfil The old gray world, divine With the breath of thee in the cool, white colonnades. {143} Thou art too pure to love, too sweet to know, Too fair to bear unsullied through the world, Where love is blind with lust, and hate grows strong On thine immortal song; Nor do the world's winds blow Abroad the forbidden word, in thee, in thee impearled. My Rose! my Rose! my Rose! my ensanguined Rose, Blood o' the heart of the love transcending life, Than death more cool, more eloquent, more still: There is moonlight on the hill, But thou art gone, as goes The promised joy of thee, the world's still-virgin wife. They spurn thee from the temples of their Lady, Nor know the passion of thy virgin will, Nor heed the murmurous song of thee, that blows Over their heads, my Rose: But in cool paths and shady Of the old secret woods, ah! they might find thee still! Rose! Rose! the driving rain, the shadows growing Over the pathway of the doubtful land, Obscure thee from me, and no foot-fall now I hear; if it be thou, So silent, that art going, I shall not know, nor in this darkness understand. {144} V OF THE ROSE "THAT love and the lover Are mingled in me Night shall discover: Dreams shall not be The veil of the world that my heart doth disclose: The long night is over, And I am the Rose. "Night, like a cancer, Spread over my breast: There was no answer, No truce to this rest, That, holding the world in a shower of white snows, Chilled the mad dancer Who bore me, the Rose. "Day, like a vision, Before me is fled; Hate and derision Have fouled my soft bed. In the heart of the water the quenched vision glows; Unborne, in division, By me, the world's Rose." Ah! Rose of the mire That festering runs Through the lands of desire In the blaze of the suns; --- {145} I am stirred to the depths of me when the wind blows The notes of the lyre To me, O lost Rose! My rose of the world, My rose of the mire, With petals soft-curled O'er the heart of desire. --- I am he who shall bear thee; who knows not and knows; Whose heart is impearled In the heart of the Rose. By the bow that is bent, By the veil that is torn, By the strength that is spent, By the babe that is born, By the river of starlight that ceaselessly flows By the god's starlit tent, Oh, I hail thee, my Rose. So day and her lover, And night and her dream, Have passed thee, Rose, over; And over the stream Thou shalt pass, and thy vigil not seek to impose, Nor thy secret discover, O thou, the world's Rose. {146} VI THE VALLEY IT is undone, the spell, and I am cast Out to the winds; at last I shall perish utterly, I know: But I shall lie asleep on the breast of the Past, Nor feel the sun, nor the tempest, nor the snow, And all my woe Shall be as naught to me, For I shall be utterly free As I am utterly dead. So let no requiem be said Over my mouldering head, And let no vague, sweet songs be sung By any tongue! For he to whom the songs are given Hath no ear to receive. The chord is riven, And he did not believe. He had no fear to die, for death could give No more pain That that he knew whilst he did live. He lives again In the earth Whence he had birth. Gladly he lies at rest, asleep, unknown, His ashes scattered to the four winds, blown About the world: his songs {147} Forgotten utterly as he. So let him lie unknown where he belongs, Ask of the murmuring sea, Of of the silent stars that roll so ceaselessly, Where he be fled, --- It is enough; one word is enough: he is dead. Rose! Ever-virgin Rose of the pulsing world, Whereover are thy petals curled, --- It is for me alone to sing of thee, It is for me alone. Yea! let my songs of thy fame Be as flame, That shall enhance, maybe, The liberty Of one. --- If one alone shall say: "It is not dead, the day, Not utterly dead while one many sings, Having been brushed by the morning's wings," It shall suffice For him; and as for thee, Though the age be as ice, In one heart thou hast blossomed; one was free To sing these things, These things. For ever more the light shall fade from him, His eyes shall wax more dim, His ear more dull. And so the wonderful world less beautiful {148} Shall grow: he shall know no more The wonder of spring: He shall sing --- But a shadow shall lie before. He shall find no thing Whereby he may linger, and say, Behold! I have found the day. His day is over: utterly he shall die, Mr Rose, under the sky. He shall lie with the worm, And so no more with thee; There shall be set this term To his mortality. Yet shall he worship thee With his tears For a few short years. And then he shall be Nothing at all to thee, Who sang thee when no other man would sing thee, Who brought unto thee all that he could bring thee. Night, that art mother of our quietness, Who bendest deep, dark eyes o'er our distress, In thee shall sleep his ashes; let him lie Alone under the sky, Nor wake again: He hath paid for his life with his pain. He oweth naught Unto the universe, {149} For that whereof He was wrought Was bound up with the curse Of love. So let him lie with earth above, And earth below. He hath forgotten who was fulfilled of woe. He is buried deep, oh! deep: Leave him alone to sleep. Leave him to sleep alone under the sky; He had one mighty vision, and did die. Now he is dead that dream shall be fulfilled While he doth sleep. For, whilst his song is utterly stilled, His dream doth wake again, And laugh and weep. But he is free, and knoweth no more pain. VII THE SONG YEA! I who have lain dead among the roses Have slain love utterly in my soul By mine own death! O constant-playing fount Under the shadow of our Venus' mount --- Thou whom I love, unto whose vine uncloses The gaping wound whose sap hath made me whole, --- {150} O riot of the gods! O thou! O thou of the pale brow, And pale, most pale, blue eyes, Upon thy bosom Oh, the bud and blossom! The flaunting wanton leaps on the stage of the world, And cries: I am the love, the love that never dies, Being born with the lover's death, Yielding mine easy breath Under the never-failing skies, That fail not for shelter over the dim world. And so am I closely curled Upon myself, with petals still, still furled. ... Over the plains of Art with scornful feet And trailing amber robes, a nymph of time Floats, nimbly fleet Before the vision, And in derision She mocks me for my rime, Mocks me with song most sweet, Most utterly sweet, and I, Who have slain the shells Of the gods who haunted me And flaunted me, Lie, Listening to the spells That she hath woven about me. Yea! should she flout me, {151} I should burst with song, I know, And go, An ill-starred victim, to the lost low land Where the wailing voices --- That are voices only, Having burst the husk of song --- Wander lonely, While the Must rejoices, Bearing within her hand The lyre, And the sacred fire, Serene and strong, That lights the dusky underworld. Ah! hurled, ah! hurled By Zeus From the skies, Prometheus, lost Prometheus Gasps and dies For ever on the rock of my desire, And the lusty Raven Hath sought at last his haven, Under the streams that flow from that lost fire. ... Oh, woe! Oh, woe to me that have seen this, Oh, woe unutterable! the last long kiss Hath slain me, O thou nymph with wanton eyes! And now the sunlight dies A moment from the skies Over the Abyss. ... {152} Descent! Descent! Ah! I am fallen far Under the low, bright star That led me on, a dreamer, to the veil That parted, and left pale The dark beyond; for there was nothing there --- Nothing! A shell! A husk Born of the dusk In the afterglow of passion, wild and fair I saw it. Yea! I had been stolen away, A changeling bodily; my soul was thrust To moulder with the dust: I was the love that dies, And I had slain the lover With song. Ah! Night! discover Her of the wanton eyes That fled before me So long, And scattered o'er me Alas! the star-dust that should blind mine eyes, And hide me from the skies. Is love so strong? So weak the lover? Yea, night shall yet discover My song, my veiled song. {153} VIII INSPIRATION THE winged globe that holds the stars enchained, The secret, silver pools of the lost desires --- These by thy fires, thy fires! O lone Osiris in thy wintry tomb Of doom O lonely one, so utterly silent there, Too weary for despair --- Yea, I have found thee too, thee too, And round thee all the blue Of the skies is blackened; waned The light of thine eyes to the dusk. The husk, the husk Of all dead dreams, dead dreams Is come upon thee; Dust and ash and musk, and musk, and musk --- All these are on thee. ... I bear a chalice of red-tipped lilies under the moon. Bestrewn The dim pathway of delight With night, And her dim, pale stars that swoon In the circle of the skies. Thine eyes, O radiant god, are waining, and there dies {154} Along the barren waste thine echoing cry. And all the sky Is a chalice of white lilies rimmed with blood, With blood; and the bitter flood Of thy tears is dying away, away, away, Beyond the hills, the hidden hills of day. These are but lilies, O my silent god; Where thy feet have trod Upon the earthly way They have sprung, And the songs that have been sung Are faded with the day. My little heap of ashes, thou was god, Yea, utterly wast thou god! So there are no more roses, no more roses; There shall be no more songs to thee, Lord of the lilies and the silent sea Of Time. No rime This night brings to thee: closes The hour in dusk; there is no song sung to thee, And thou art fled from all thy toil, set free. ... IX THE DESCENT INTO MATTER YEA! All the veils of the spirit come to this --- To this, that they are veils of thee, of thee; {155} And the flesh, alas! is the core of thee. Be it so. I have wandered through the worlds in seeking thee, And I have found thee, and thou art as pure As dung, as sweet as sweat, as light as lust. All these, all these I have found, oh, bitterness! O forsaken one, whom I have found, thou art ravished By the phallus of Time, of Time that pierceth thee So keenly that thou art torn, thy virgin body A prey to the lust of Time! Oh, bitterness! Oh, threefold sadness! I have found thee now Too late, too late, too late. I am weary of flesh; It burns me now I have lost thee! I sicken of time, It sears me, sears me! Now, no longer unknown, I have found thee, the harlot goddess. Why camest thou not When thou wast pure as I, a new-purged soul Weary for a space from the lusts of the world, set free From the clutches of flesh? For ever I have lost thee, And I damn thee, for that thou hast seduced me far From the olden way of the gods. O Rose! Rose! Rose Unknown, ah! wherefore hast thou done this thing? The spirit is dead within me, and the flesh Wearies of thee, whom never I have known: For thou art foul to me --- a leprous worm Of sticky slime; a clamorous courtezan With itching sores, thou bidd'st me scratch thee, ease Thine ill with the touches of love. Ah! slimy one, Rose of the world polluted, thou who holdest A boy's dreams in derision, a man's desires {156} As food for thy body --- thy body! --- how shall I come to thee Who am at last awakened? Oh, my Rose, My Rose of my lost World, O Rose! Rose! Rose! Pity me for that now I may not love thee, Pity me for the unquenchable desire, Never to be gratified, I bear toward thee! Pity me for my youth, the scattered dreams That are fallen from the shattered casket of my soul. Yet will I ravish thee even now, my queen; I will fasten my fangs in thy breast, and drink thy blood, Thy leprous blood, to make me mad with hate, And frenzied with unsatisfied desire. --- I will make my bed with thee, thou harlot Rose Set 'twixt the limbs of the world, hate and desire. I will make me foul as thou that I may be A citizen of the world! I will quench the fire Immortal in me! I will be as thou, Prostitute unto Pan and unto Time. --- I will live upon the dreams thou givest me In fee for sated passion! Yea! I will be A vanquisher of genius, a dream palled With life and time, knowing naught else there be But thou, who art slime, whose fingers through the veil Transform the world to dust, the sun to fire, Life unto lust, love to polluted dreams Of rose-buds ruined by slimy worms that crawl, Seeking desire, through the crapulous bed of love. {157} So shall the lust of love be sated on thee In spite of thee, who knowest no ecstasy. And I will win a pallid way to the stars In spite of thee! Yea, and because of thee. For the end of every path must be the same, And at the end of thee, immortal one, Is Nothing! Yea, thou shalt know, Rose, even as I, How the last dust of the world is naught but dust, And how thou shalt die, being the Immortal Rose. X LIFE MEN say: "For love's sake and for beauty's sake We would make our songs immortal; we would give The passionate cry of summer, the secret ache That thou, our poet, knowest; "I would live A lonely virgin for thy sake, and I Would fret no more the earth, nor tire the sky With ever-unbidden song. Ah! I would give All that my spirit hath learned of thee, to live Lonely and pure with the memory of thy kiss, And thy passionate, tearing lips, and thine arms around me, Knowing naught of the world, and caring naught, save this: Love, through this woman, hath found me. ... {158} But last night, when betwixt thy breasts I lay, Sucking thy soul away, I dreamed of a song I would make thee, a song so fair, It should charm the wandering air, And make it stay with me for ever, A thought of thee within my mind: Dearest, I am deaf and blind, Believe me, to all but thee; yea, too, I am dumb, Save when I sing thee, When my songs I bring thee. O passionate endeavour! O love more rare Than the fabled loves of the gods, I too succumb Unto the olden immemorial spell, And have no words to tell Of thee, and of the grace of thee, And of the face of thee, Who art mine, whom I made mine own. Rosa Ignota! Ah! the Rose is blown. XI MELANCHOLY OVER all is the greenness, in the slow-falling night Over the fields with dusk and dew, with dusk and dew, there flees A dying echo, faint and dim, fleeing towards the light; Sombre streams cry mournfully in the sighing breeze With the rustling trees. {159} The old brown mellow houses grow mellower in the nightfall; A charmed air is about them of the keen old days that are dead. Oh, hushed is the song of the morning, hushed in the tremulous light-fall, For the light is fading slowly now, and all the legends are said, And all the glamour is fled. Here in the soft grey twilight the mournful evening lingers Upon the road to dream and sleep and all the things that are past; Here in the shadowy night-fall, with slow reluctant fingers, The poet touches the silent strings, and falls into calm at last As the night grows dim and vast. And the passionate hour of love, of love, is come unto dust and slumber, A gracious memory only stays, a passionless sense remains Of golden hours that are passed and fled, when the joys of love without number Fanned into fire his smouldering heart, and turned into flame his brains With purple and crimson stains. And the hour of the Rose is fallen, and the light of her eyes is fled, There is only a sense of vaguest dream, of calm, unending repose {160} On the breast of a love that is fled afar, this is soft, and gentle, and dead; That passed away on the stream of night; that flows and flows and flows From the heart of a faded Rose. XII THE SEER OVER the billows Of soft green grass, Under the willows, The gray sprites pass. In twilight's glamour The shadows grow, --- Cadent life's clamour! So low, so low, That the world is hushed As the white light pales; No longer flushed The daylight fails; The fading light No longer glows In the west; the night Still deeper grows: O secret Rose! O secret Rose! O secret Name! The west wind blows As the hot red flame {161} Dies down to dusk; The day is dim. ... Hawthorn and musk. ... The seraphim Play on the breeze: The ponds are stirred By the mysteries Of the secret Word. The lost Word floats Over the dunes In silver notes And golden tunes, And mystic runes. O secret Rose! O secret Flame! The west wind blows The secret Name Into the ears Of the wandering lights That love their fears In the summer nights, And in autumn rejoice By the haunted meres, Hearing the voice Of the seven spheres, Who are merged in the sun, Whom the moonlight frees, And whose orison The soft night-breeze Blows over the leas. {162} To softest sleep In the scented west In the moonlight deep His ear is pressed To the earth, who wanders, Unseen, alone; Who dreams and ponders, Whose face is stone, Carven by thought: He unveils the skies, And the star-dreams wrought By his frozen eyes Take shape and stand In his argent dream; And the old gray land And the swift gray stream Glitter and gleam. The silver wonder Of silent stars, The silent thunder Of sunset's bars, The crimson flare In the ashes of day, Are everywhere On the secret way: Under the hill The clamouring gnomes, Fro a moment still In their darkened homes, Hear the deep night, {163} And the secret word That dies in light Is seen as a bird, As a vision heard. The sylphs that skim The upper air, Light of limb, With floating hair, Tune their lyres To the faded west, And the sacred fires, As they pass to rest, For a moment stay As a note half-heard On their homeward way As a weary bird Lingers in space. O molten air! O dying grace! O dream most rare! O fire most fair! The waves that wander Under the night, As stars that ponder The birth of light, Lift their crests To the flash of fire, And in their breasts There is born desire {164} For the maidens that float In the heart of the river; And the secret note Sets the waves aquiver Till the naiads arise To hear the choir Of the star-lit skies, And the secret fire Of death and desire. And the rim of the flame Is pierced and torn With the spirits made tame By the breath of the morn, And the life of the fire That surges and swells From the swamp and the mire, From the million hells, And the one soft heaven Where meetly blooms The heart of the seven Supernal dooms. The water of life Still flashes and flows From the heart of the strife To the pathway that goes To the core of the Rose. {165} XIII DEATH THE ways are fixed unto the last abode Of death; there is no sign-post on that road; No man hath found it, and no man shall find The secret way under the heavens: blind Is knowledge, for within man's mortal brain There is an end to thought, an end to pain; And there is death, a cool, gray, silent place, Calm in the afterglow of life; one grace Kept pure and holy, and one sacred thing In the deep centre of the mystic ring Of life, whence all roads lead, a winding path Through plains of dumb despair and sunless wrath. There is one holy spot under the skies Kept sacred from the screaming herd: there lies The silent singer, and the dreamer asleep, Calm in the mother-earth, and sunken deep From all the toil of the world and the heat of day, Buried and quite forgotten; hidden away From jarring strife, the myriad tongues that shout Their petty shibboleths of faith and doubt. One truth, one knowledge, and one thing shall save: The cool, dark temple of the silent grave. One knowledge and one truth: one thing alone Shall yield the calm man seeks --- the upright stone. One life, one love, one death; and Death at last Is master of all life to be, far passed {166} Into his silence; from the earth where he Reigns in his silent, sunless dignity One hope still blossoms, one last flower still blows Upon the mystic earth, my Rose, my Rose. XIV THE BEGINNING ROSE of the gardens of old Babylon, Red, scarlet Rose of fire in the breast of light: --- I had a dream of thee, my Babylon; Yea; all thy petals were crimson with delight: And under the soft stars, the silent night Grew deeper, deeper, till the heart o' the world Lay bare before me, with no robe to don Save the lucent veil of spirit, argent-white; And then there came a voice: Arise! Smite! Smite! Ere the portal of the temple may be won! Crash down the walls! Lend all thy hidden might! I, in the bosom of the deep imperled, Cry from the cloud-place of the Underworld. Let the gold banner of the day be unfurled That I may manifest the secret curled In the darkling bosom of the world's great night! Then I arose in majesty, and came, Spurning the loves of the world for thee, for thee, For that my soul had quenched all meaner flame, Than the flame that burned still for thy majesty! {167} And the voice of the world swept ever over me, And I gave answer: Come thou forth, my star! Oh! be it mine to see thy chariot flee! Oh! come thou in thine own triumphal car! And at the naming of the secret Name Thou camest unto me, Istar! Istar! Istar! thou flaming rose-bud of the world! Istar! I call thee by thy secret Name! Istar! the snake within the red Rose curled, Come in thy triumph! Come thou in thy shame All uncontaminate --- a lambent flame. Lick, lick the sores upon me!<<"merci, non.">> ah! thy name Hath burned me through: I scorch within thy star! Drain me to death, and slay me with thy flame! Death and destruction! O Istar! Istar! Palace of dream! Red rose-leaves subtly hurled At the chariot-wheels of Time! O charioteer, Who drivest on the molten car o' the world Over desire, and love, and hope and fear, Hath not the name of the goddess on thine ear Fallen, and art thou still abashed with shame? Apollo! Apollo! Apollo! I name the Name, And the silver of the moon grows gold and clear; The sun-dawn breaks in everlasting flame, Shaming desire, and burning up the fear Of the world! O thou! I call thee by thy name Most secret! Yea! I smite the age-long year Of man's deliverance! And thy steeds I tame With the word of the sun-god! And the molten bar {168} Of flaming gold is flung back from thy throne! I stand unarmed before thee, and alone, Bearing the fallen mantle of a star; Rose of the world! Istar! Istar! Istar! XV THE BLUE CIRCLE FOR all the blue heart of the shifting summer, And all the grace of green, the fire of spring Grown olden in the world of space and time --- Let the twin worlds rejoice! The sacrilege Of the mystery is unveiled; there is no word Uttered within the bosom of the spring. But the horned satyrs under the beechen boughs Still linger, as the hour of triumph grows In the Ram's mouth: and the heart of day is torn With the fear of the new Birth: no more is set The Crown on the temples of the dawn; no more Is heard the clarion of the day; the ways Are darkened for delight, and pure for pain Of birth, stretch forth to the ends of the universe --- A long, still road of longing, passion-pale With the dust of lives, and strewn with the bitterness Of the heart of man, the weary heart of man! And deeply set betwixt the pillars of day, There stands the statue of a god, awaking From torpor; reaching up to the pale blue skies, And wingless, and with longing in his eyes For the unattainable goal; with lips that quiver {169} With slow anticipation of delight. Ah! mouth half-opened to the warm spring air! Ah! eyes that smouldering never burst in flame! Ah! thou unsatisfied, immutable one In the key of blue ... the threefold destiny, Is not for thee, nor ever shall be thine! The lust of joy incarnate! Incarnate youth Of the world! Alack! No longer art thou King Of the Underworld; no more thy road is peace, For not by longing nor by wonderment Shalt thou gain the drooping west, the starless place, The sun-shot centre of the folden stars. The palace of the cloudy Underworld. Oh! in the key of blue my lyre is tuned To the threefold mystery. O wandering stars! O lonely lights! The mysteries of time Fade and grow pale before the eternal cry! Light! Light! The doom of time is thrown to the winds --- And I have set the secret wide and still In the heart of thee, my Mother; I have known The incarnate miracle of the birth of man, The twin of Time, the heir of the gods' debauch; The shedder of the raiment of the loom Whereon are woven birth and life and death. Yea! Is revealed the Sword, the eye of light! Hail to the fivefold star! The secret awe Of the world unborn; and thou, that hast the key, Let the lyre sound before thee! Let thy breath {170} Herald the day! Aha! Aha! Aha! Ho! Dance in the secret dances of the night, In the mystic windings of the mossy ways Of eld! Oh! let the silence break, break, break At the birth of man from out the universe! Hail to the Lord of the Sun, and the Sacred Rose! Master of space and time, thou subject god! --- Master of space and time! From the Underworld I speed upon the Way! Ho! Jupiter! I am Mercury, the little light-heeled god, The summoner of the stars at choiring-time, When they sing thine earth, thine earth, thy sun-child. Yea! From out the deep is sung the song of joy, And the branches of all the trees in all the world Are shaken, and the twilight pools are stirred From slumber by the softly spoken word. And I am thine! Sunk in the heart of Time Is the memory of thee! Ah! deep! deep! deep In the core of the world! And I am set, a flame, On the altar of song; the old, forgotten ways Are set in me! I am the risen Pan, Risen from the rainy earth to bear the spring Within me! Oh, thou little soft, shy god, Half girl, half beauteous youth, oh, hail to thee Hail! For the morning is a misty birth, And the sun a shadow, and the world a lie! And I that sing in the early key of blue Am the Rose o' the World, the long-forgotten Rose! {171} Hail! on the altar of the awakening day; Hail! in the temple of the night outworn By the vigils of the gods! Soft, secret Rose, I bear upon my breast the golden sign; I wear thee on my breast, and I am thine --- Light as the summer oak-leaves, gold as the god On the shimmering sea calling the winds to rest. Light, light be the earth upon thee, and below, Breath of the world unborn, long wave of song! Hail unto thee, and hail unto the star That bore thee! Hail! and hail! and hail! and hail Hail! For the word is spoken, and the light Is fallen, and the Rose is mine, is mine! The Rose is mine! O Rose! O secret Rose! XVI THE SILVER CRESCENT IN the little cleft of the rocks whence life first sprang To birth, by the secret, shadowy, molten sea, Where Aphrodite sprang to greet the sun, Low voices murmur: shadowy Underworld In the void of time, light song of Erebus On the lips of a courtesan of Rome, ah! list! A wandering singer caught the light o' the stars On his lips, and the sun-dawn of the world in his heart. For I that dwelt within the city of Time Was lost in a cloudy dawn; the silken veil Of dew that clothed the green grass of the fields {172} Was the veil of Olympus! Now the shadowy night That sang to me, that sang, that sang to me Sprang from the underworld of Eld; the moon That circled in the heavens sang to me. And I that heard the olden monstrous lays Of eld, the dreaming wonders of the dawn, Died, and still lie imprisoned in the rocks By the salt sea, knowing of the doom of man, But being dumb, as is the doom of man. For nightfall is delight of Eld, and I Wander bareheaded under the dark sky; Calling and calling from the windy deeps, The olden Night still draws me: moonlight weeps For sunlight faded in the dark; the sun Is under the dark clouds; still one by one Soft, silent stars creep silently upon me, Leaving soft trails of light. O wonder-dawn Of the inverted thunder of the skies --- Back to the gardens of old Babylon! The hanging lamps, the slow enchanted moon, The gold-eyed stars, the pillars of the sea, And the call of Her forgotten! Oh! I lie Under the stars, upon the dewy sward, And all around me is the silent city, The soft, white city, softened by the dawn. And I hear the sistrons, and I hear the songs Sung to the hanging moon! And thou, Istar, Radiantly comest on the brains of men To slow illumination of desire; {173} The old enchanted palace of the will Is thine, and god-like dreams of Eld are thine, Of the Underworld of the stars, beneath the sea, Beyond the cloudy palaces of the hills. Ah! never hath the dawn been nearer thee! Fallen to idle sleep, and borne within The temple of Mind, the soul of Night is laid Under the starry canopy of the worlds, And the lamp is set upon her bier; let be, Let her still slumber! Oh, my radiant one, Thou that art born of the dew and of the stars, Come thou to me, while that the soft night sleeps, O thou most inner and supernal dawn, Thou that bearest the torch for the feast of the gods! In the heart of eld I found thee, and a rose Was thy heart, and a rose thy crown, and tiny rosebuds Girt thy green mantle, and thy yellow hair. Glittered with the dust of the stars! By the river-side Thou camest to me! Oh, the secret night When I stared into the water under the moon, Singing and tumbling on its way to the sea! The soft stream flowed under the milky stars; And there were poplars by the water-side, Gazing upon themselves; but I was blind, Blinder than wood, more silent than the moon. And so thou camest to me, O my darling! My little rose-lipped darling! Fountain-cool Thy hands, and thine eyes warm with celestial fire Drawn from the world's heart! Oh! my little one, {174} Come to me here in the great, slow silences, In the radiant dimness of the after-glow Of the passionate ache of the world: I am Pan no more, But on my brow is set Diana's tiar! Diana, O Diana of the woods! Lie thou with me, for I am Pan no more, But the Virgin of the Star-drift of the world! Here in the silence, in the great green woods. Lie thou with me! Slumber with me to-night Under the stars, and the yellow, drifting moon. We will love no more as Syrinx and Pan: Diana! Come unto me, and I will grant the thing Thou cravest! Oh! the foaming milk of the stars! I bear the red-tipped lilies under the moon! Rosa Ignota! Ah! the pale moon-flowers, The soft, shy glances, and the virgin unwon! Oh! the sweet burden of the sunless hours: Love! I am conquered! Nay, love! I have won! O feeble moonlight! O sweet stars undone By the pale longing of eld! O virgin word! Under the silent moon I bear the sword! Oh! the soft burden of the sunken sun! I bear a chalice of lilies under the moon! I bear the red-tipped lilies under the moon! Light is no more: oh! let us swoon and die! And the secret way is star-lit, star-bestrewn, Star-guarded, star-set, under the starry moon! Is there no way but this under the sky? Oh, moon of Eld, ah! shall we die or swoon? {175} O Rose eclipsed! O Rose! my rose of roses! The night is pale to death: the lyre reposes Under the star-shot glamour of the moon. And all her palest roses. XVII THE RED TRIANGLE THE eye of Fate is closed; the olden doom Lies in the wrack of things. There is no sign; Only the wind cries through the lonely woods, And the barren motherhood of the world is manifest Shamelessly; in the dank, pale, autumn woods The fallen leaves lie squelching under the feet Of the desolate gnomes: and now the birds are silent, And the streams are sluggish in the veins of the world. Dark gray and cloudy, the skies no more are blue, And grayness reigning solitary makes music Drearily on the wind-harp. The dripping rain Soddens the earth, and the stones lie thick and wet Among the leaves; and the trees wave naked arms In despair to the sky. The light is quickly dying, And there is no more day; the dull red sun, A sore and aching eye in a face of gray, Droops down to slumber. All the world seems dead. Rose! Rose! Where art thou? O my Rose! my Rose! My secret Rose! Art lost among the gray? There is no voice in the silence; in the woods The brownness glistens under the weeping rain, {176} And I am in despair of Thee and Time. Weeping the trees, and all the streams grown sullen, Under the lowering skies and the bitter blasts --- There is no living thing in the temple of Summer, And the ashes of spring lie cold on the hearth of day. Gray dreams again! And all my hope is fled. Gray dreams! gray dreams! and the day is tired and dead. The bitter aftermath of summer brings Time's memory back to the world: there are no stings In the world's pain, but only bitterness Of the memory of Time; no sore distress, Save for the thought of Summer waned and dead, and faded with the gold skies overhead, And the young green beneath; ah! secret Rose! Here from the heart of the woods I pluck thee forth, Fragrant with the smell of summer, crimson-bright! And, for the world under the stars to-night, It shall be thine, and thine the star that draws The world to worship thee: the days are faded Under the heavens; there is no more sun, And no more love. The world is hushed and dead. Slim-passing dryads through the lonely woods, I will follow ye in the paths of dank decay; Decadent Autumn, with thy lonely broods Of active gnomes and little red-capped fays, That feasted in the summer under the trees Now dripping with Autumn rains --- ah! take me too, Me too into the silence of the past, {177} The grave of desolation; I am weary Of all things: let me dream my life away. The breast of Fate is pregnant with Despair, Got on her by the piercing shaft of Time. Oh! Unborn child of Fate and Time, I am weary Of them that gave thee birth. Shall I love thee? O darling! Wilt thou come to me in the silence, Saying: "I bear the mystery of Time, And the secret of Fate?" I know not yet, but surely Thou shalt know of the Rose, the Rose, the Rose o' the World! With thee shall I bear the chalice of blood-tipped lilies, The chalice of red, sweet lilies under the moon? But now there is no moon, nor any sun; Only the world's gray noon is for thee and me; There is no sound in the nerveless silences Of the fading world; there is no quiver of light On the river of life; we are unwed, my Rose, Nor knoweth each the other; we are undone, My Rose, my secret Rose, my unknown Rose. And still the Autumn woods are rustling dankly With sodden leaves made brown by wind and rain; And the satyrs are fled under the earth to hide From the sunless world, and the nymphs are frozen to air To be reborn in the sunlight; there is no more joy, For mournfulness is fallen on the world, And decadence, and decay, and the odour of Eld. The spirit sleeps; the Rose o' the World lies buried {178} Under the soil of every star that glows, A hanging lamp, under the Firmament: There shall be no more roses, no more roses ... Until the spring of the stars shall fall on the world; Then shall be light again, O secret Rose, And thou shalt be born anew, with radiant starlight For dew, and all thy petals shall be dreams Crystallised of the gods who swing the wheels Of the worlds in space; and at the heart of thee Shall be to secret knowledge, the sacred Word, The GR:Lambda-Omicron-Gamma-Omicron-Sigma of the throbbing Universe. And the years shall pass in myriads over the Tree Whereon thou bloomest, O my rose o' the worlds, And one shall pluck thee forth; and Love and Death Shall lie together, and there shall be born He who shall bear for ever into life The rose-tipped lilies under the silent stars, The silent stars, and the new-blushing roses. O Rose! my Rose o' the World, my Rose of Roses, Thou shalt be born anew, and live for ever! XVIII THE YELLOW SQUARE DEATH! Death! In the cool green colonnades of time I pursue thee; thou art fled before me now In the silence. By the secret door I wait For a sign of thee; but thou art fled before me {179} In the mist, and in the sunshine, and the day! Thou art married to Love, maybe, for Love sits weeping In my desolate heart, nor know I what can ail him, Save it be that thou art fled; immortal Love And mortal Death, and are ye separate still, Even as I and as the unknown Rose? Maybe the Rose is Death, and I am Love, Wed to young Life, and jealous of desire Of Death! Oh, in the cool green colonnades I have lingered late, even till the night's slow fall, And I have heard the dying voices of day, The market-women's chatter growing faint In the twilight, and the drovers plodding home With their heavy beasts; and the dark blue sky and the stars Have lingered together there, and stayed with me, So sunset's hour hath passed before me, slow Receding on the pathway of the day. Wherefore still strive when all must end in death? How shall be freedom when the insistent lover Shall seize thee at length in sleep, and, ravishing thee, Bear thee, unknowing, back to the heart of things, The dim, black centre whence sprang Love and Fire Who made the world, and made all suns and worlds, Tearing the thing I now make manifest From the heart of the silent god? Oh, wherefore strive? Art thou not still content to die, sweetheart? Or wilt thou seek me still through all the lives {180} Whose yoke we must bear? And wilt thou break the spell? But now the murmur comes to me again, Insistent as the rain upon the thatch, And the cry of the lonely wind at the blurring pane: I bear the red-tipped lilies under the moon For ever! the red-tipped lilies under the moon! And now there is no cry to stir the dark, And the day is faded; there is no more light. There is no more light, but through the dusky air The wind-harps play, the strings respond to the winds, As the droning oceans call to the listening skies; The hills stand dark and deep in steadfast gloom; Twilight is slain by the old black, wandering god. Summer is buried. There is no more light. But in the breast of the world there stirs again The flaming heart that is my Rose, my Rose, My secret Rose, whom but to name, to name, Is a sacrament upon the altar of Fire: Oh! yellow Fire! Oh! aureate-petalled Rose! Because swift Sorrow hath stricken me, I sing Here in wavering gloom, the sunless deep, Calling slow dreams from their immortal sleep; Wakening the murmuring sigh, the spirit's spring --- The bitter pangs of the birth of everything, Immortal Matter and the wandering Soul. And they have sought to slay me in the night, Because I am blind, and hear not the dark wings; Because I am prisoner in the flesh; Because I am mortal, O immortal Rose! {181} XIX THE BLACK EGG THE splendid summer splashes on the city In little leaping lights, the flames of spring; And the waters of the world and the Underworld Are stirred by the quickening breath of the unknown god. Life, a strong pulse within the heart of Day, Glows in the western skies; the morning pales Before the influx of this newer dawn. --- This for the argent dream that stands apart, The image of Activity unveiled, The violation of Life by the thorn of Time. Ah! fever of a strong distempered god, Stirred into life by the mystery of birth: Sure and secure is set the secret Way Through all this endless maze of whirling things. Ah! let me pierce to the heart, to the heart of the Rose. I am pale as the Rose: last night came Love to me, And brushed me with his wing; and I arose, And stared out from my window into the dark. There was rain and wind, and the unforgotten cry Of her who hath striven for ever, and failed at last For that Life had conquered her. But she came to me, Crying, "Wilt thou not lend me of thy strength, And yield thy love to me?" How should I tell Of this silent thing, this wise debauch of a goddess, Who hath no way but this to know she lives? {182} She cried: "I bring you wonder from the skies, And star-lit lilies, and pale, purple roses; Roses; still roses; still the intoxication Of the scent of the world; the virgin still unborn To this riot of life, this sensuous crash of things, This fulsome fever fretting out her life." So! It is said! No more may I unveil The mystery! The way is hidden from me. I know not; but the aching dream still stays, Burning me up to death; the cool, strong death, Even death I shall slay in the cool, strong colonnades: I shall bear the Rose of life to the heart of death. And death shall lead me back to the shadowy river, The murmuring waters shall mock me then no more. I shall know, and knowing I shall strive again, Shall ever strive until the petals fall! There is no way for me, my darling, now, Save one; the hour is passed, and I have chosen. I have chosen, and the mellow river calls Insistently; the darkness grows more deep, And night more luminous, yielding me her heart. For I have chosen: it is over now. We are one for ever, O my secret Rose, Pale phantom of the vastest god of rest, His wandering ghost, obsessed by space and time, Set free, a torment to the rolling worlds. And Life, a foe for ever more of Time Springs still, the ghost of No thing. Oh, sweet hour {183} Of this sweet spring, I hear the call again: I bear the chalice of lilies under the moon. I bear the red-tipped lilies under the moon. And the blue light is merged into the flame Unquenchable of matter. We are sunk to sleep In the clods of earth. ... and now we have forgotten, And the moods break upon us as they list From all the quarters of the lower worlds. Calling us hither and thither; where, we know not, We know not, O my silent one, but still The sorrowfulness of Eld, the romance of sorrow, Are ours; we are parted, but the search is still Through all the worlds where through we have ever ranged: Through all the planes where we have ever sought The hidden root, and the pale, yellow blossom. Oh, I must name thee again, my Rose, my Rose. Through the blue depths of the the skies; in the tumbling waters; Midst the antic winds; through the red heart of the fire; How shall I know thee in the maze of things, In the monotonous gold of the rolling worlds? The mage hath seen thee with the eye of fire; The lover hath known thee in the sea of Air. The worlds hath hung all trembling on the lyre That the old god bears still with unwearying hand, Touching the strings to passionate mortal prayer, Answering or answering not, immortal still. Oh, through the maze how can I understand? {184} How can I know thee, O my secret Rose! In the old enchanted palace of the Will Still shall I bear the lilies under the moon, The blood-rimmed lilies under the harvest moon? But there are no more roses, no more roses, And the ways stretch out, unending; no god knows If thou shalt be reborn or late or soon. O poet of the world! the agony closes Shall there be no more roses, no more roses Under the immortal moon? XX THE KEY THE sign of the lover is hidden in vain From the eyes of the mage, from the sight of the sun: The laughter of life and the paean of pain, The chords of the lyre and the answer of one. The toil of the pilgrim shall never be done; The love of the lover shall never be over: The there is no end, ah! no end to the Way, As there is no end to the love of the lover. And there is no cry: but some god shall obey, And there is no toil that shall ever know ending; And there is no answer to life and to love, The mystical union unblending and blending. The pathway is set 'twixt the Eagle and Dove. Gray world, the petals of the ensanguined Rose Open at dusk, and with the daylight close, {185} Because the priest is risen from the sod, Because he bears the mantle of a god. The hour has struck at last; henceforth the Way Is sundered from the sunlight and the day. No one shall heed my singing; there shall be --- How well I know! --- no seer that shall see. And none shall know the secret thing I write With speeding pen in the dim candle-light. Because my Rose is mine, no man shall find Wherefore I know, that was erewhile so blind; Nor wherefore, by the light of one dim star, I see thee here, Lady of the Rose, Istar. XXI THE POET SPEAKS "HERE shall be set the sigil of the sun, Gray world, soft light, strong wind, and burning day. I take the arrows cast by Blake away. And fling them surely at the sacred One. And the barbed arrow on its way shall run More swiftly: my swift heart it shall obey: And it shall hit! And thou no more shalt say The archer was blind, for the thing that I have done." "Swift might, slow-burning stars, the wavering lyre Breathes fitfully beneath the moon's white fire, In rhythm to the cadence of the sigil Whose symbols sing, making the night to swoon, The day to tremble: from my secret vigil I shall return to meet thee, Love, and soon." {186} "When for an age of craft-long loveliness I lay mine head against thy beating heart, And hear thy bosom throb, and soft sighs start Through all thy hot young breath, ah! canst thou guess How the artist longs to frame thy murmured "yes" In Parian marble, wrought with subtle art To immortal wonder, so to rend apart The curtains of the tomb with easy stress?" "Ah! wert thou here, sweetheart, I would not sing These foolish songs. I only turn to rime When thou art absent; for thine eyes would bring A light too dazzling for mine eyes; but time, When thou art from me, surely makes thee live For ever, from mine arms a fugitive." (I) Red light and mirrored roses! Is the world A mirror only of life? Is death the thing Within the heart of life so deeply curled That only at life's end the thorn can sting? It may be. Yet I only care to know The imagery of the most fairest Rose; So that I dwell where that last Rose doth blow, I can forget life in the garden-close. Sweet wind of all the wide world's empery! Slow-purling streams of pure and fresh delight; Within thy breath and voices can I see White flesh, dark eyes, and longing dusky-bright: I care not any more for death, O life, Being slain by love with one thrust of the knife! {187} (II) I care not though my love hath murdered me With one soft touch of her most tender lips; For dying on her breast, love's face I see: Love calls me back from death; my spirit slips Back to the old forgetfulness, ere I Was risen to life's surface, virgin-pure To tinge my soul with the blueness of the sky, The sun's gold, and earth's blacknesses secure. Wherefore shall I repine that I must fade? Shall there not alway be immortal roses? How, losing life then, shall I be afraid If at the sunset my tired soul reposes? Oh, I shall lie on my love's breast for ever, For we, being dead, shall lose each other never! (III) I turn to mortal love; imagining Hath made a world that I may wander in; Where Love sits crowned, a blind and winged thing, Winged for delight of roving, blind to sin. This temple of Desire is pure and white, Transparent to the sunlight and the day! Most deeply calm under the star-lit night: Love's lamp guides lonely pilgrims on their way. My staff hath flowered with love's immortal Rose; And I, that long be exommmunicate, At early noon wait till the gates unclose: I loll in the sunshine at the Eastern gate. {188} O love, my love; I make my songs while waiting, My lips in missing thine but idly prating. (IV) For all the glowing panopy of earth The winged god must stand responsible; The mavis' song, the roses' scent, the mirth Of spring, the spirit's passion, aping hell. So I, knowing my love, am girded round With all the armour of the wanton spring And her pagan festivals; the swelling ground, The ripe blue sky, the ever-moving wing Of birth, have lent me glamour of desire, And I will go as a god, to mould afresh With my most inner and supernal fire A veil for a soul, a veil of soft, white flesh; Yea! I will mould from out the universe A new blind angel, with a spirit's curse. (V) The hour of love is passed; we lie asleep Dreaming of love; we wake to love again. Upon my heart you hide your eyes and weep, And so I understand, and share your pain. And when you ask of love I will not speak, But crush your lips for only answering; I feel your hot breath on my neck and cheek, And crush you to my breast, a tender thing. {189} The livid lightning strikes us, and we fall With one last cry into a vast abyss, And time and space exist there not at all: We have encompassed heaven in a kiss. And for a moment we are gods, immortal, Stricken to death within the secret portal. (VI) In the red dusk of Autumn, when the day Died down to night, and lamps were lit, and we Stared at the flames that made the ceiling gray With wavering shadows, sporting eerily, We lay all naked, talking of the things Of the old dim world, when life and art were young; Of the old bards who lightly touched their strings; Who sang of love and life as I have sung. And then I felt you kiss me as I roved Back to the brightness of the world of old; And so the past grew dearer, as I loved And loved you more: the path grew ever gold, Merging at last into the golden light Of the Golden Age: we were re-born that night. (VII) More sombrely the secret summer broods Upon the world; there is no sense of green --- In all the listening, virgin solitudes Of the spirit --- that is not stirred; ah, love! we lean {190} Over the brink of the world to cull fresh roses; Roses, still roses, myriad roses bloom In the silence. Oh! the world's great Rose uncloses Her petals still, to the Nothingness of doom. Last Rose! Last love! Last night thou camest to me, A silver dream under a sapphire sky; The winds of the world ran ever and ever through me, Until, at last, the end: then did I lie In dream, and dream that made mine eyes unclose, And so I lost thee, O immortal Rose. (VIII) I swing a censer in a temple of fire; I chant slow mantrams to a holy Name; I fall in swoon unstained by earth's gray mire, Being wrapped about in a sheet of scarlet flame. Lo! through the fire the mantram comes to me, Shouted by the world in chorus, and I lie In utter rapture; the virginity Of the inmost Light, that knows not how to die. Oh, cast thy mantle over me! I am taken By the goddess! Sprinkle water on my head, Lest I in rapture care not to awaken, Knowing the utter glory of the dead. Oh! I am back, wet-eyed, with panting breath: I have seen the nuptials of Desire and Death! (IX) There are no mortal songs that shall avail To bring the Mystery into the mind {191} Of him who hath not been behind the veil, Who, having ears, is deaf; and eyes, is blind. Yet, wherefore do I know not, I must sing, Being of them to whom the Song is given: My only gift in reverent love I bring Before the bowl is shattered, and is riven The chord that binds the spirit to the flesh: I sing because the notes have sought so long, And found at last one soul serene and fresh To bear the burden of eternal song. So for this hour of song I have tuned my lyre Unto the Rose of the Immortal Fire. (X) When I am faded into nothingness, And thou of whom I sing art earth and dust; And when the soul I bear for my distress Is faded in the sun; when love and lust Are nothing to us, dear --- my songs shall tell Of all thou wast to those who knew not thee: In the immortal groves of asphodel, They shall seek, drawn onwards by my melody. There shall be no more songs for us, I know, When at the last my throbbing lyre reposes In endless sleep; yet one last rose shall blow Upon our graves, one rose, one Rose of roses. "Out of his heart a rose, from hers a briar." O Love! my flame-flower of immortal fire! {192} (XI) I gaze into the calm, cool eyes of death; I seize him gladly by his strong, calm hand; I hear him murmur, underneath his breath, Thou knowest me; dost thou not understand? Thou hast sought Love; he hath eluded thee In the shadows; live hath worn thy soul away; Wilt thou not dwell in endless rest with me, No more deceived by hope, nor burned by day? Wherefore delay? My love is calm and sure, Not passionate, but certain of its end; Wilt thou not come --- and gladly? I can cure Alone the weariness of time, O friend. I shall not weary of thee; thou shalt sleep For ever on my breast, nor wake, nor weep. (XII) Still must I sing of thee? O Fate, delaying The last reward of unremitting toil, Give me the cup I crave! How shall my praying Avail me? For alas! I've neither oil, Nor wine, nor grape, nor corn, nor anything That may palliate thee! One only thing is mine, And that is but a sweet and bitter thing, Rarer than grape, or corn, or oil, or wine. I may not speak it. Yet my tongue still mutters Cravingly, eagerly, oh! desperately. What is the thing that still my glad mouth utters? I may not say it, Darling, even to thee: {193} Thou that hast granted heaven in a kiss. O Darling, need I tell thee what is this? (XIII) I linger happily by the muddy river, Watching the lights, the dappled waters shine Under them, and the little leaves that quiver Along the dull green waters' broken line. And thou art there still mirrored; thou art calling Through the trees, and through the clouds, and through the rain; In reverie I wander: oh, enthralling, To see thee mirrored in my poet's pain! O mariner! What wayward, rock-bound stream Is this? Past what immemorable town Of fable blows it? What forgotten dream Evokes this image --- rill and moor and down, And a far shore where, under a rainy moon, Are nuptials, and a feasting, and a swoon? (XIV) For art's sake let there be no more delaying; Since we have found Love, with him let us linger: Upon our hearts new chords he'll still be playing --- Upon what secret strings shall stray his finger? We talk so foolishly of love! We lie Lip unto lip, heart pressed to beating breast All too oblivious of the hours that fly For ever onward to eternal rest. {194} Oh, shall they be renewed, those sacred hours? Or shall the jealous gods our love destroy, Being jealous that with only mortal powers We have dared to steal their own immortal joy? Yet, for each hour that we have stolen, give An aeon of the life the high gods live! XXII IN THE END FROM bud to bud the butterfly of thought Hovers; around the red Rose of the Will He lingers, seeking for the honey wrought In its golden heart; the long hours linger still In silent sweetness, and from flower to flower He brings desire of love from hour to hour. The song is sung; the way is sharply set Under dim willowy woods; the thing is done: For me no more to linger or regret; Fulfilment comes, in sight of day and sun. From night's dense darkness let the spark be struck, With life for candle, and with love for luck. Green Night, the virgin mother of my song, Green Youth, the sire of all my songs; let be: It may befall I shall not linger long Under the daylight's golden empery; In light and dark still shall the silent river Bear on my soul, my soul shall bear for ever. {195} The dusk is fallen; there is no more green; The day is past, and love and life are fled: Out from my window in the night I lean To hear the waiting ghosts of hours long dead. But, being dead, they dwell at rest in me, Turned into song by love's strange alchemy. Wherefore I sing of things long past and dead; Wherefore I murmur foolishly in sleep; The old, old pain still throbbing through my head In dreams of desert valleys, mountains steep, With winding paths; hot suns and scorching plains. There is a fire unquenched within my brains. Because I sing in unknown cadences, Because I strive so hotly to recall Some murmur I have heard on sunken seas, Some vision I have seen beyond the wall, Now sombrely I await the secret rime, Known of the poet --- and the Ghost of Time! And so before the bloom has left the Rose, While life's strong youth is surging through me still, I end the songs here wrought; the loves and woes Of old dead lives and lovers and their ill --- Because a poet's curse I bear away, My payment for the vision of the day. Because my heart is as a ten-stringed lyre, I cannot still the music of my mouth; Because my tongue is wrought of molten fire, I cannot quench my spirit's ceaseless drouth: {196} Till the gods grant me sleep I drink and drink Immortal dew: I am drunken on the brink. ... So may I fall into the shadowy sea That surges under my unsteady feet; Already has the morning fled from me, And the stars call, and they are madly sweet With some lost vision that I know not of: It is not Death; I think it is not Love. For I have tasted death and love, and these Shall not suffice; for love and death are one; In all the secret star-wrought harmonies, By married death and love is man undone. There is some secret thing I wot not of; It is not death; I know it is not love. So do my songs end here; the hour is fled, And there are no more roses; I am fain To cease from singing. Wait! the hour is sped, My songs are turning into dreams again. Oh! now the hour is dead, and I am fain Awake life's young song back to soul again! THE EPILOGUE SHALL they avail, O wind, The things that I have heard? Because I am utterly blind, Did I hear the wings that whirred? {197} Even as flutters a bird, I fluttered: before and behind Thundered the secret Word Into mine ears. I have pined Because the Word was unkind; But now the spirit hath stirred. I sought not, yet did I find, For the wonderful thing occurred. Though I be blind, shall I gird Because I see not? The gods bind Mine eyes. But I heard! I heard! Shall it avail, O wind? EXPLICIT OPUSCULUM NONDUM FINIS {198}