All Night

All night no change, no whisper. Scarce a breath

But lips closed hard upon the cup of death

To drain its sweetest poison. Scarce a sigh

Beats the dead hours out; scarce a melody

Of measured pulses quickened with the blood

Of that desire which pours its deadly flood

Through soul and shaken body; scarce a thought

But sense through spirit most divinely wrought

To perfect feeling; only through the lips

Electric ardour kindles, flashes, slips

Through all the circle to her lips again

And thence, unwavering, flies to mine, to drain

All pleasure in one draught. No whispered sigh,

No change of breast, love’s posture perfectly

Once gained, we change no more. The fever grows

Hotter or cooler, as the night wind blows

Fresh gusts of passion on the outer gate.

But we, in waves of frenzy, concentrate

Our thirsty mouths on that hot drinking cup

Whence we may never suck the nectar up

Too often or too hard; fresh fire invades

Our furious veins, and the unquiet shades

Of night make noises in the darkened room. [45]

Yet, did I raise my head, throughout the gloom

I might behold thine eyes as red as fire,

A tigress maddened with supreme desire.

White arms that clasp me, fervent breast that glides

An eager snake, about my breast and sides,

And white teeth keen to bite, red tongue that tires,

And lips ensanguine with unfed desires,

Hot breath and hands, disheveled hair and head,

Thy fevered mouth like snakes’ mouths crimson red,

A very beast of prey; and I like thee,

Fiery, unweary, as thou art of me.

But raise no head; I know thee, breast and thigh,

Lips, hair and eyes and mouth: I will not die

But thou come with me o’er the gate of death.

So, blood and body furious with breath

That pants through foaming kisses, let us stay

Gripped hard together to keep life away,

Mouths drowned in murder, never satiate,

Kissing away the hard decrees of Fate,

Kissing insatiable in mad desire

Kisses whose agony may never tire,

Kissing the gates of hell, the sword of God,

Each unto each a serpent or a rod,

A well of wine and fire, each unto each,

Whose lips are fain convulsively to reach

A higher heaven, a deeper hell. Ah! day [46]

So soon to dawn, delight to snatch away!

Damned day, whose sunlight finds us as with wine

Drunken, with lust made manifest divine

Devils of darkness, servants unto hell—

Yea, king and queen of Sheol, terrible

Above all fiends and furies, hating more

The high Jehovah, loving Baal Peor,

Our father and our lover and our god!

Yea, though he lift his adamantine rod

And pierce us through, how shall his anger tame

Fire that glows fiercer for the brand of shame

Thrust in it; so, we who are all of fire,

One dull red flare of devilish desire,

The God of Israel shall not quench with tears,

Nor blood of martyrs drawn from myriad spheres,

Nor watery blood of Christ; that blood shall boil

With all the fury of our hellish toil;

His veins shall dry with heat; his bones shall bleach

Cold and detested, picked of dogs, on each

Dry separate dunghill of burnt Golgotha.

But we will wrest from heaven a little star,

The Star of Bethlehem, a lying light

Fit for our candle, and by devils’ might

Fix in the vast concave of hell for us

To lume its ghastly shadows murderous,

That in the mirror of the lake of fire [47]

We may behold the image of Desire

Stretching broad wings upon us, and may leap

Each upon other, till our bodies weep

Thick sweet salt tears, and, clasping as of yore

Within dull limits of Earth’s barren shore,

Fulfil immense desires of strange new shames,

Burn into one another as the flames

Of our hell fuse us into one wild soul:

Then, one immaculate divinest whole,

Plunge, fire, within all fire, dive far to death;

Till, like king Satan’s sympathetic breath,

Burn on us as a voice from far above

Strange nameless elements of fire and love;

And we, one mouth to kiss, one soul to lure,

For ever, wedded, one, divine, endure

Far from sun, sea, and spring from love or light,

Imbedded in impenetrable night;

Deeper than ocean, higher than the sky,

Vaster than petty loves that dream and die,

Insatiate, angry, terrible for lust,

Who shrivel God to adamantine dust

By our fierce gaze upon him, who would strive

Under our wrath, to flee away, to dive

Into the deep recesses of his heaven.

But we, one joy, one love, one shame for leaven,

Quit hope and life, quit fear and death and love, [48]

Implacable as God, desired above

All loves of hell or heaven, supremely wed,

Knit in one soul in one delicious bed

More hot than hell, more wicked than all things,

Vast in our sin, whose unredeeming wings

Rise o’er the world, and flap for lust of death,

Eager as anyone that travaileth;

So in our lusts, the monstrous burden borne

Heavy within the womb, we wait the morn

Of its fulfillment. Thus eternity

Wheels vain wings round us, who may never die,

But cling as hard as serpent’s wedlock is,

One writhing glory, an immortal kiss. [49]

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