I strain mine eyes across the surge; the spindrift cuts me like a whip;
The wet wind wails a wolfish dirge for its slain paramour the ship.

The ship, the ship that brings me home more than all hoarded galleons
Brought through that sunset-blooded foam, with hulls of teak and beaks of bronze!

More than all store of gold or spice, ivory, slaves or sandalwood
Art thou, O marvel beyond price, O bee-hive of beatitude!

Is not each cell that builds thee up a well of honey-scented sips?
Is not thy soul one fragrant cup of nectar at my thirsty lips?

Thou bearest in thine hollow staff the primal fire, the flower’s fume,
Quintessence—now may Zeus engraff its pollen in my wintry womb! {106}

But where’s the ship the kicking mast, the plunging bow, the reeling hull
Aching beneath the bacchant blast, malevolent and beautiful?

Ai! Ai! then where’s my man, my man? I am a witch’s sieve to-night,
Parched as the lusty Lesbian was for her savage lord, the light!

Ah! couldst thou slay me and appease—though naught but slaughter serve my turn,
I, in an hour that bring thee ease, fret the night’s silk and ache and burn.

But now—my whole life stings in me; a viper violates my veins;
Locusta laughs at Lalage! a ghoul that sucks at her own brains!

Where is the ship? Where is the ship? Where is my man, my man, my man?
—Who gave thee power to rend and rip the hearty out from a courtezan?

I roved from town to town: I played the whore in every slimy stews.
God ! I am like a moon-struck maid, easing her drought on sister dews. {107}

I throw myself upon the grass; I wail, a lone wolf, to the moon;
Huddled and hunched, a moaning mass—How near God was those nights of June!

Death! the mere thought of it! For now—where is the ship? where is my man?
The blood is bursting from my brow; my choked shrieks prostitute to Pan!

Great Pan it is that thrusts his sword into my throat and strangles me!
Great Pan that clubs me on the sward with his robust brutality!

Ah no! ah no! Let me go blind rather than let that face of fear
Swollen, its black indenture signed with blood, most maculate, appear!

Come then, O ship, the dream is past! Could not I watch and wait an hour?
Nay, by the Gods, what gallant mast cuts yon horizon like a tower?

He comes, he comes, he comes. Oh hither, mine handmaids, bind me neck to knee,
Lest I should fling my body thither—where my soul stands—across the sea. {108}

Hold me ! he must not think I yearned—he is too masterful—beware!
Oh, should he guess this body burned, shame, shame—how should a maiden fare?

Nay, girls, I know. But Pan hath wrought this marvel on my wanton’s will,
Filling it with one virgin thought, as strong as summer, and as still.

Ah hold! my body breaks away maugre your weakling struggles. Hold!
Nay! my soul faints; the stinging spray lures like his kisses did of old.

Free! Now stand back! How good it is—how good it is to be alive!
How good to swim for the first kiss! How good to dip oneself and dive!

Gods! Let him get me wholly now naked and radiant as the moon
Clambering on his plunging prow those nights of June—those nights of June!


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