A Paean in the Springtime

Now is the triumph of Love, now is the day of his guerdon,
Now when the blossoms are full on the bountiful delicate spray;
Now has the year sprung aloft and shaken the frost and its burden,
April is come with his showers, sun laughs and promises May.
Newly the bird sings of Love, newly he wooeth a maiden,
Newly the heart of a boy leaps, and his eyes catch its fire.
Light is his laugh as the sea, with no sad remembrances laden;
Light as the sea, and as fierce and fickle is grown his desire.
Here in the spring we are free, as the winds that look love at the ocean;
Change we and weary too soon of delight that is hardly begun;
Pleasure and pain are made one, a delirious noble emotion;
Love dies before he grows manly, dawn never yields to the sun.

Love in a night shall live and die,
Love in a day shall wing and fly;
Love in the Spring shall last an hour,
Easily fades a spring-tide flower.

Where are the blooms of frost, hoary and bright and vestal;
Virginal lips not kissed, flowers unbidden to bud?
Ah! we have slain their beams, as our low heads lazily nestle,
Where the dark home of Love is, where the impatient blood [62]
Spurts at the furious kiss, darts far forth as an adder,
Stinging and biting amain, as the night becomes golden with fire.
Dawn brings reason back, and the violet eyes grow sadder,
Eyes that were red in the dark, eyes of enfevered desire.
Eyes that wrote songs with a glance, whose look sang the sweetest of stories,
Sweeter than lips could have told, who loved better only to kiss;
Sweeter than hands could have written, who took delight in the glories
Fierce of a triple embrace, a fadeless implacable bliss.

Love is a sword whose blade is red,
Love is a deed whose fruit is dead;
Love is a tiger, fierce of power,
Easily fades a spring-tide flower.

Death shall come slow and soft, with the stealthy tread of a leopard;
While the few stars have grown dim, as he seeks for an innocent prey.
Death shall pounce soon on the fold, where Love was a treacherous shepherd;
So with hot lips shall he come, ere the mountains are silver and grey.
Life shall gasp out in the gloom, and all our desires shall perish;
Hope and its roseate crown shall fall in the dark to the dust.
Love and his garland shall go, with the last of the joys we may cherish, [63]
Death with cold finger shall touch the delicate springs of our lust.
We shall be weary of kisses, weary of all the caresses
Man or his sisters of shame dream or devise or obtain;
Cover the white limbs ashamed with the fiery impassionate tresses,
Once for a bed to delight, now for a covering to pain.

Love is a fruit with rotted core,
Love is a thing shall be no more;
Love is a bride of a bitter dower,
Easily fades a spring-tide flower.

Where shall be Hylas then? for his lonely lips are sighing,
Vainly in hell for love, vainly for days gone by;
Where the incarnate flame of Lesbian lovers dying,
Then where the world is past, and Heaven or hell draw nigh?
Heaven with cold and loveless lips, though his fruits be many,
Hell with his red mouth hot, barren although he be.
Hylas and Sappho choose, and are never denied of any,
Hell's most insatiate fangs, death and his empery.
Heaven is bare and bleak, hell has the joys beyond Heaven,
Fire and desire and delight, of a love that is always young;
Hell has the pains of hell, but the sweetest of lusts for leaven.
Fierce body, breasts of delight, fearful and murderous tongue.

Hell is the house of all delight,
Heaven the home of a bitter blight; [64]
Pain is our joy and our spirits' power,
Never shall fade its fiery flower.

Now is the triumph of Love, gazing far to an infinite pleasure,
Pleasure that mocks Heaven's hopes, that our hands are impatient to hold.
Love and delight pouring out, in a fearless insatiate measure,
Out of the chalice of lust, scarlet o'errunning its gold.
This is the song of the Spring,that the nightingales carol by starlight,
This the delight of our eyes, as they shine with strange fire in the night,
This is our trust and our joy -beyond death we look on to the far light
Flaming from hell our last home, this is the key of our might.
Come, fiery birds of a clime we know not, and sing us your paean;
Triumph of gods that are known secretly, not by a name,
Gods whose implacable feet have trampled the god Galilean,
Cast though they be into hell, given to death and to shame.

Heaven and hell has striven in war,
Sappho and Hylas, with Christ and Jah;
We are of those, though they lose their power,
Never shall fade their fiery flower. [65]


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