Wym Chow by Michael Field Cover


by Michael Field

<< Leave the fire ashes, what survives is gold. >>



  1. Requiescat.
  2. Introit.
  3. << Crowned with wine-steeped Daphne-bough >>
  4. << O Dionysus, at thy feet >>
  5. Trinity.
  6. << What is the other name of love? >>
  7. << It is so old and deep a thing >>
  8. Out of the East.
  9. << My loved One is away from me >>
  10. Semper Jam.
  11. Dei Dono.
  12. Absence.
  13. My Cup.
  14. Fur for Mandarins.
  15. << O Now, Now >>
  16. << Thou could’st not bear >>
  17. Created.
  18. In Extremis.
  19. << O wild Bacchic Creature >>
  20. << Doomed little wanderer, >>
  21. Adveni, Creator Spiritus!
  22. << Sleeping together: Sleep, >>
  23. Liberal Love.
  24. << Loved Confessionals there are >>
  25. << I want you, little Love, >>
  26. << When others are about me >>
  27. << Full of the passions nurtured in the wild >>
  28. << When at the Door of Death, >>
  29. << O Chow, the Peace of her I love >>
  30. << Ask, and it shall be given thee >>

I. Requiescat.
I CALL along the Halls of Suffering!
Hark! Down each aisle reverberated cries
Out of deep wounds, out of each fiery spring
Of nerve, or piteous anguish of surprise.
And I must traverse these grand vaults to hear
The patter of thy feet, my little Chow,
Driven soft of frenzy on and on—the drear
And winter bee-note at thy stricken brow.
Loud Halls, O Hades of the living! On!...
What, are the swarming little cries not heard?
What, are the lit bright feet for ever gone
Or yet to swifter orbit they were spurred?
If I should wander on till Time had close
Thee, with thy shuffled paws, I should not find:
No chasm, nor any heinous shadow knows
Thy haunt; nor may I fear thee left behind.
Forth, Forth! Away! He is not of these Halls—
No motion of him there, Whym Chow no sound:
His ruby head shall never strike their walls,
And nowhere by a cry shall he be found.
A TERROR laid on all
The pulsing air, O heart
That riseth into waves that cannot fall!
One comes, not to depart!
What is it makes a tunnel of my hall?
Why can no echoes start?
Who cometh like the snow pushed toward a land?
Who cometh like the snow pushed toward a land?
What can the strange power be?
Not the whole mountain-frame of earth, nor band
Of the cold-swaying sea,
Nor yet the ages under Time’s Command,
Gray in weird strength as he—
Not sky beyond the range of any star,
Not sky beyond the rand of any star—
Nor all these fearful things
In unison like to this Presence are.
Oh, but the bosom clings
To breath, the eyes to light, while from afar,
As come almighty Kings,
Our dead comes back again, the dead, our dead.
The dead comes back again, the dead, our dead,
Brought through the passage in!
O Wonderment, extremity of dread!
No child, nay, none of kin,
No sovereign and no warrior: but instead
Of these, the awe they win,
O Chow, my little Love, thou art come home.
O Chow, my little Love, thou art come home.
No creature in more state
Dead to the haunts of life hath ever come.
And little Love, the great,
And mighty Power, nay, mightier than the dome
Beyond all stars, or than Time’s hoariest date,
Or sea or the world’s rock hath brought thee home.
CROWNED with wine-steeped Daphne-bough,
Strewment of the black,
Sproutless ivy in thy frenzy trod,
Wine-steeped hellebore
‘Neath thy ebon chin,
Thy bright corse walled in
On thy coffin-floor;
And the wine of God
Making ruddy track
On thy side, thy blood upon thy brow!
By those elements life-red,
By the blood, the wine,
O beloved, our Want, our hidden Soul,
Be our dæmon, be
Guardian-angel near
To the cruel sphere
Of our destiny,
As its changes roll
Genius half-divine,
Dear Companion, blessed as are the dead.
Not in full-furred loveliness,
When love’s shining aid
Came from brilliant eyes and glorious face—
Now we many not touch
Full-furred beauty, grand
As lions’ ruby-tanned,
Nay, be with us such
As by holiest grace
Spirits have been made
Wayfarer with men, fired through to bless!
O DIONYSUS, at thy feet
The beauteous reveller, our joy, we lay—
Our Bacchic Cub, the dear tamed animal,
So often touched with ivy-coronal,
Who, breathing day
As from a mountain, found thy worship sweet.
O god, o vine, on his dead side
Stain of thy grape: above his corse we drink
In sacrament to thy divinest folly
That made all creatures of bright revel holy,
Chose them to link
With god and mænads in one rapture wide.
He loved thy torch of vivid flame,
He loved the breath of life, the rush, the glance
Of eyes from inmost happiness, and splendid
His glow as on his joyance he attended
With countenance
Of merchant over jewels of deep fame.
Receive him, tragic god of tendrilled fire
Our sweetest, let us rove and rove with him.
We pledged him in thy grape. Leave us not lonely!
But bring him and thy wine-cup with thee only—
Our Chow, our Whym.
And thirst should end, and passion bind desire.
I DID not love him for myself alone:
I loved him that he loved my dearest love.
O God, no blasphemy
It is to feel we loved in trinity,
To tell Thee that I loved him as Thy Dove
Is loved, and is Thy own,
That comforted the moan
Of Thy Beloved, when earth could give no balm
And in Thy Presence makes His tenderest calm.
So I possess this creature of Love’s flame.
So loving what I love he lives from me;
Not white, a thing of fire,
Of seraph-plumèd limbs and one desire,
That is my heart’s own, and shall ever be:
An animal—with aim
Thy Dove avers the same….
O symbol of our perfect union, strange
Unconscious Bearer of Love’s interchange.
WHAT is the other name of Love?
Has Love another name?
Yea, one that, when he came
To his Creator’s feet above,
Met his lone ear and thrilled
His grievous want, and filled
The chamber of his birth with new live fire.
<< Response, my Answer >> was God’s cry.
O gift of joy to hear
The Godhead’s welcome clear.
As heart to heart the vast
Desires were gathered fast—
Love as the source of Love, Love the Reply.
Response! O little Love, O little Chow!
O Answer! What is Love’s most answering bliss?
What is Love’s happiness alert but this
To welcome? And thy rage of welcome how
Should words tell dim—the bound,
The dances round and round,
As if the sun had come down carrying love
Instead of light, with all his rays and power,
With the wild spinning of his heat above,
And in thy body had his hour
Of cabriole and circle on the ground!
What beating of fine, little feet!
What slouch of ears like banners drooped
To the great Victor all the soul would greet!
Thy tail—the thyrse of flame that Delphi knew,
Thy dance—such dance as on Cithèron tossed!
Thy cries as circling sea-birds mew;
Thy stretched paws the defiance of all fear,
With the adored in sight and near
To touch and smell—the fine nose stooped
In midst of ecstacy to prove it sure,
Not a vain presence in its visit lost:
Athwart thine eyes the fierceness of a gem,
That drowns its flashes and then rescues them,
Casting on lucent gold about them set
Magnificence still with doom’s flooding wet—
Eyes that no separation could enure
To loss of their one love, their utter fate.
O Chow, the glory and the gold-furred state
That smote beyond the strength of any verse,
And all its pride in gold, even to rehearse—
The state that surged around a daily chance,
If thy Beloved should enter: in thy Dance
A worship; in thy light, a universe.
IT is so old and deep a thing
The being fond of animals—so far
It goes back to when earth was first beginning,
Lay under forests dark as storm-clouds are,
Or from its ice menaced frail breath and motion
Of living creatures. Then, by many an ocean,
Lost to our planet now, man followed beast
As foe; and out of hatred came a love
For breath that feebly struggled as man’s breath,
For loneliness of soul that could at least
Be faithful to the Voice of one above,
And listen for it through the woods till death,
And listen for it through the icy flaw;
Yea, come at last to worship at the door
Where dwelt the Voice, and at its human hearth
Find the one end to a world’s trackless path.
God in His spaces overhead
Seeks not the powers and angels for His heart:
From these in passion ever is He parted,
And with our mortal ignorance hath part.
Our wild, divining simpleness entrances,
And in the solace of our upward glances
The truth of His own mystery prevails.
So is it when the creatures of the Earth
What was and shall be in ourselves reveal
From eyes that pierce us not; where love avails
To grasp what apprehension in its dearth
Can never judge. Oh, as our God, to feel
A being from below reach where in vain
Those of a race more equal scarce attain:
In sacred revelation to be caught
By blessèd eyes even yet with chaos fraught!
JASPER and jacinth, amber and fine gold,
The topaz, ruby, the fire-opal, grey
And lucent agate covered thee with glory,
O Eastern Prince from fuming China hoary,
That on thy orient rug celestial lay,
Thy coat a web of treasure manifold!
And from thy glinted eye what lust of eye,
What joy in having joy to thy desire,
What potency out of thy gold to fashion
Thy slaves to aptness for each regal passion,
What ambush and what ease of rampant fire!
What somnolence of ancient cruelty!
And what endowment of what frenzied joy,
That our cold flesh of the Hesperides
Can reach not,…eyes and teeth and feet all blended
In pomp of dithyramb that only ended
By sleep, through which the god remitting frees
His votary from fire-flames that destroy.
Yet in thee such a bowing-down to doom:
Docile and proud with humbleness a spell,
Thy talisman of universal splendour—
That with necessity by still surrender
Thou wouldst be level whatso’er befell,
Nor by defeated light establish gloom.
Any mysteries, old mysteries like stars
Rose in thy spread gaze, and thy thought was filled
With worship, with perpetual adoration;
Thy very breath of being an oblation;
Infinitude a faith life never stilled,
The lustier for its chains, its wrongs and jars.
O Orient Prince, thou Asian Bacchant, dear
To Eleutherius, how thou knewest love!—
Thy Mistress thy hot self thou couldst not render;
Yea, with indifference, a strain untender,
She being thy very self, thou would’st not move
Even to caress her, for caress too near.
Thou would’st not break thy trance save at the hour
Of welcome: then the glories of thy race,
Then dance and sovereign courtesy, elation
As thou would’st heap the substance of a nation
At feet that had the ritual of thy face,
And all thy gems in flash, thy gold in shower.
MY loved One is away from me
Whom thou dost love. O Chow,
That with my outward eyes I may not see
Thy gaze that fathomed how
Intent were thy furred ears with such emotion,
As in a shell is straining for the ocean!
My loved One is away from me;
I may not turn to find,
Chow, in thy senses the infinity
That in my senses pined
For her we loved in absence and together,
My feet, thine eager paws, questioning whether
The loved One would come back to us
Or now, or soon, or late.
Oh, in our vigil to be solaced thus,
By the unbounded pressure of one yearning
Vaster than we, no pause in it, no turning!
Our loved One was away from each:
Your eyes burnt signals, mine
Sprang the same flambeaux the same aid to reach
Of Guardian Love divine—
That it would give us back our sole possession,
For whom our thoughts, breath, hearts kept holy cession.
Our loved One was away from you—
O Chow, the sighs, our sighs!
And what I murmured you would listen to
With your far-open eyes,
Raised in the anguish of a want immortal…
Lo, than didst sweep as hawk against the portal!
For, lo, our loved One surely came,
Lo, she was at the door!
Your eyes demanded Yes, in running flame;
Mine gave them Yes—no more:
And we had reached our vigil’s end in gladness
Of so great ease from terror it seemed madness.
My loved One is away from me.
O Chow, no more, we twain
My lovely fellow-lover, hear and see
And breathe for her again!
You ever have your Love…yet do not leave me,
Nor in my mortal wake of love bereave me!
My loved One is away—my cry!
Be at my side, unseen,
Alert, like strange Anubis, toward the sky,
As you so oft have been.
O Chow, my little Love, you watch above her;
Watch still beside me, be with me her lover!
ONE attitude, the only one
That never changes, we must keep
When the warm flux of life is gone,
One attitude, but one, that sleep
Of its own self and loneliness
Doth with a sovereign stamp impress,
The terror of one endless pose.—
O vivid, little Chow, O Rose
Of circling life, erected head,
And limbs of ever-lambent red,
That would not wait a jot for aught
The impulse of their motion sought;
Impatience beautiful, and tart—
Yea, with desire’s exceeding smart
Now limbs stretched forth and flank stretched slim,
Down from thy ruff’s deep mantling rim,
Thy forehead plain in rest, thine eye
Glinted aslant and lazily…
Just as so often I have seen
Thee slumbering with a lion’s mien.
Long watched I then, but never stayed
Thus on thy sleep, as if delayed
Before a state-duration held
Fast, and in sculptured presence spelled.
Not life—with this unthought-of woe,
We still must see it ever so…
The terror—it is life, and yet
A form we never may forget;
And never may its contours move,
Nor its closed posture answer love.
THY beauty—that of action born,
Of drama and the thyrse tossed higher;
An apparition of exceeding fire,
Swept hither, thither among men, in scorn
As comet is to fool and craven, dire.
Beauty—by Asian Bromius shed
On mane and banneret of fur,
On fretted eyes, over undompted head;
Coat of high strand as mountain juniper;
And clouded radiance only gods confer.
Yet fine thou wert as bliss can make
The devotee: nostrils light-stirred,
In touch as perfect as a drinking bird;
Thy feet—in which an eager pulse would shake
To music by the Star of Morning heard.
And freshness! Even as in the hand
A rose of the first dew will bloom—
Such freshness of thyself, such sturdy room
For being elate thou didst of right command
That in red flame thou didst affront all gloom.
WOE of thy little face behind the pane!
Woe of thy lovely, golden face!
Its music in the discord of a strain—
Parting, ay parting with its only love:
Thine eyes the jangle of wild beams,
Mid night they vainly would displace,
Riot wildest fears, and wilder dreams!
Woe for thy little face left so forlorn!
Woe of its weft and woof untwined,
The stuff of all its gold aimless and torn,
Dropping, ay dropping from its loom away!
All its devotion unconfined:
Distress of thy gold face—ah, well-a-day!
Woe for thy little face in solitude,
Woe of its lost, unfolded looks!—
The wonder, shattered by disquietude…
Clearly, ay, clearly sudden, the one thing,
Beyond what any wonder brooks,
That love was gone, was gone a’wandering!
Past all the sorrow of that severance now,
Past, and for evermore forgot;
Perfect the music; seamless, little Chow,
Woven, enwoven thy gold threads of life;
Unshepherded, unsheltered not
Thy love-looks with a wilderness at strife!
CHOW, thou hast drunk the bitter cup
Love unto death,
That makes love free and lifts it up
To heaven and its own breath:
So God gave death
To His Beloved, as we
Gave it to thee.
Oh, ‘twas a sacramental Cup
Death given for Love!
We bade thy little spirit sup
With First and Last above,
When of our love
We made thee free
TIGER and tiger-lilly,
Flower of broom and flower of gilly;
Gems of every mine and valley
That have gold and red to rally
Mists of earth and crystals icy;
All the fume in coverts spicy
Where the tiger’s furnace cruel
Draweth victims as to fuel;
Or where sunset strikes its splendour
On a stack of oat-plumes slender;
Where the marigold scowls lusty,
Though its coat be dun and dusty:
Where all haunt of colour burneth
With such glow as never turneth
From its tropic—thou art golden,
And in state and place beholden.
O NOW, Now!
Ever like the sun, the South
Sparkling sun that floods us from the South—
Leaving in our brain no drouth
For a future, no regret
Backward, bidding us forget;
State of bliss that keenly yearns
On the mortal dust it burns
At its whole eternal heart,
Whence free light and motion start;
Joy above immediate pain,
Where no changes wax or wane.
O Now, Now!
Moment everlasting, thrill
Of Life’s immortality, a thrill
Never slaked and sweeter still
When we live as God hath breath,
Safe beyond those dreams of death—
What is gone and what shall come,
Mere annihilation’s sum!
Readiness, sweet Hamlet—true!
“Readiness is all”. Adieu
To aught else, if we would be
Present in life’s mystery.
O Now, Now!
Little Love, God’s Moment, bright,
Ever with us, yearning bright
In thine every leap of light,
In thy spring of instant glance,
Clear from ebb of circumstance;
Animate from birth to birth
Of Life’s Moment new on earth,
Thou art here as sparkling sun
In thy presence, brightest One.
THOU couldst not bear to face the Sea,
Nor would’st thou ever be
Where the mound-billows slash upon the stones;
Nay, but with little moans,
The fox-whelp’s bark, so wild was thy distress,
Spread-eagled up the sea-banks, thou would’st press.
O little cry I shall for ever hear!
O altercation drear:
Thou could’st not stay before the presence rude
Of gross infinitude,
But straining back to genial earth would’st flee
Where warm in hearts is sunk infinity.
ALONG a hill, among the hills,
Thou hast burnt over at my side
In air of seraph-flight that fills
To amplitude the valleys wide—
We pace on in liberty.
Thou art dead, who might not be
On these living uplands free,
Nor thy sturdy trot unbound
On this elemental ground:
But fast in leash thou didst abide.
Oh, of thy bond, Whym Chow, it came,
That into thee a soul was breathed;
And as a brazier holds a flame
Close of rare incense in it sheathed,
Thou wert held in capture fraught
With sweet sacrifice—thy thought
Never from our presence sought;
And thy love, in servitude
To thy loved one’s being, rued
No loss that sealed thee with her name.
For all that is created bears
A limit scarcely to be borne,
Till out of it, though unawares,
A Sprit of new life is drawn:
So thy love’s unfettered soul
Deathless through thy body stole,
Levying on thy days its toll
Of subjection—So to-day
Dead, thou takest living way,
And with my soul its freedom shares.
WHEN thou wert lying dead, Chow, I was at the poles
Of passion where its world most sharply, swiftly rolls.
In midst of ice, of icebergs riftless and of snow.
I spoke to thee with voice that panted fast and slow
Against the force I breathed of that extremest cold,
While at my heart quick love round its own being rolled.
O WILD Bacchic Creature, shall we grieve
That the God of Frenzy did not leave
Thy last days unheightened and forlorn?
Shall we, as the terror-stricken, mourn
That on thee the very God descended,
And with sickness exultation blended?
Rich upon thy fur the richest fire
Glowed as from his mother’s heaven-struck pyre:
And the motions of his mighty march
Through the mountain-gorge, the city’s arch,
And lion-shaken plain was in the sway,
Royal as a procession, of the way
Thou didst press thy feet. And doom was spun
In the circles, finished one by one,
Of thy patient frenzy. Oh, the swing!—
As when horses, destined to their ring,
Slow and powerful thresh the autumn grain,
Dragging with their feet against the strain,
Bending round the pole, and nobly held
By the weary rhythm, as music-spelled
As are the stars, though music be unheard.
Oh, thy revolution never stirred,
Wondrous circles of inveterate woe,
Woven by stars, by heroes long ago,
Drawn through frenzy of a god to song.
Little Chow, this greatness did belong
To thy end that, ivy-leaves among,
Thou didst feel the far cool of delight
On the verges of absorbing madness.
Seized of fate’s dire rhythm, yet with no sadness,
Thou among the stems of rose-thorn rushed,
Or the well-loved ivy-leaflets brushed,
Or the air—as if from Temple lifted
In high vale and from its columns drifted—
Came upon thy nostrils, till a sleep
Fell, the last of doom, and on the steep
Of Cithæron thou wert laid in death…
Maiming sleep of frenzy and free breath.
DOOMED little wanderer, doomed to move
As Lion or Bear in heaven above
O little star, our woe!...
Thou wert not of a god en-starred,
When on thee fell that fortune hard
To wander here as in the sky
Those shining Beasts that no more die,
But in constellation spin.
Thou wert mortal to begin
An endless movement so!
Thy little ruby head, soft, blind—
What agony when we entwined
Our arms and fain would hold thee far
From thy destiny of Star!
Quiet, sweet, a moment’s space:
Thou would'st rest from charmed pace:…
As thou saidst No, No!
Gently then thou would’st pursue
Still thy Course, soft breaking through
Our protection from the great
Doom of thy unearthy fate;
Courteous, placant, out of noose,
Pitying love had thrown, let loose,
Weary, little, ruby head,
Feet of gold with steps of lead—
Thou didst pass along the ground
As a star that rideth round
On its circles in the sky;
Yet indeed thou had’st to die—
Yea, and stumbled in the stress
Of persisting weariness.
MY arms, my arms are void:
Nothing created touches their embrace;
The substance of embrace hath been destroyed;
What it clings round, what gives it place—
As shell around the ruddy chestnut takes
A mould and station, the red fruit forsakes.
My ears, my ears are still:
Not deaf of their own selves, but from without
As flower-cup that the bees were wont to fill
With boomings, stir with their warm rout
The haunt to generation, dust
With love’s gold—So my ears, their life out-thrust.
Mine eyes, mine eyes are blank:
What in the light could give them living shape
And filled with their vision with inducement frank
To see and watch beyond escape
Is gone, and with indifference light flows by,
Nothing across it fashioned steadily.
My heart, my heart—ah no!
Core of my love there art thou ever hard—
There clasped, there heard, there seen in constant glow,
In compass of its world enstarred;
Nothing of sense there vacant seeks its aim:
Touch, hearing, sight responsive to their name.
O God, O God, O might
Of Life Creative, let me hold again
The ruddy form my arms would close on tight,
Their cynosure my eyes attain;
Tingle my ears with every sound they loved;
Oh, re-embody! Be thy Spirit proved.
Yea, give, O give once more
These things of sense their everlasting dream,
Strong as the semblance that on earth they wore!
The very touch, the very beam
To hold the loved One—on the ear his voice
And breath. Oh, make each waste place to rejoice!
SLEEPING together: Sleep,
The lull of thy breath on the air
That held the lull of our breath there;
Or movements in that former deep
Of night that was before the world—
Movements of thy form re-curled,
On a sigh, a pearl in seas
Shut down dark in mysteries;
Or a snuffling by the bed
Of thy fair-created head;
All of Genesis from dense
Covert gloom, till, issuing thence,
Motion, sigh of heart, caress
Came through sable void to bless.
Eating together: food,
Rest of continuance! Like a Song
To feel it made us blithe and strong!
To see thee greet with us the good
Of such nurture as could hold
Thee so eager, bright and bold,
We with all our deeds and dreams
Re-illumed, as were the gleams
Of thy savouring body, till
Complement of power did fill
Thee and us, that side by side
We in newness might abide.
Breathing together: breath,
The friendship of all things with us,
The means by which just then and this
What word the sun in sunshine saith
We could hear and welcome it,
By our mingled eyes sunlit.
And of breath we shared the breeze,
Listened to the mammering trees,
Elf-possessed to make such sound;
Or against the river’s bound
With thrilled trepidation ran.
Yea, of breath, the breath of man
And of beast we knew the spell-
Of our bodies, relished well.
Loving together, love,
The flame that even in locked-up sleep
Had place, as in the rock, closed deep,
Is set the spark with rock above;
That in our morning-open eyes
Took on flash of full replies—
From the couch, where thou had’st slept,
To our bed unwavering leapt,
And from us in thee would light
All the sanctuaries of sight:
Flame that, did we only eat,
Made a sacrifice of meat,
Something eaten from the fire
That had brought a god down nigher:
Flame that while we breathed made air
As itself a warmth and fair
Shining through us of content—
Life with sacred passion blent.
Joying together: joy,
The call to us of ivy, pine
And a Voice of One divine
Who kindled the wild creatures coy
Even as he kindled women, men
Into choruses and then
Set them to life’s dance of praise,
Rhythmic over devious ways;
Who with flambeaux hung bright spears,
Lifted panthers’ tingling ears,
Taught the bliss that must express
Unity of blessedness
When a god to mortal things
Their delight for worship brings.
Grieving together—No!
Scarce any sorrow save the dull
Shades that will mar things beautiful,
The cloud upon day’s promised glow,
The walk along hills denied…
We no longer at thy side!—
That was absence, deathly space,
Holding not the Loved One’s face,
Sorrow at Creation’s blank
While drear distance slowly sank
Coffin-timbers in each heart:
Absence; oh, we grieved apart.
Now that thou art dead we meet
Still together in the sweet
Company of close-drawn breath,
If we banish grief from death.
THY Love…for thy own self thou had’st demand;
But gave of love as Kings give of their grace
Out of the favour found before their face;
O royal creature, from whose heart was banned
All that in other love craves or makes store
For its own hunger. As pure element
Thy love went out toward its election, blent
With no self-gain as man’s is evermore.
Oh, when a man loves with demand he comes—
There is the war of wants and of desires:
Thy love was as the inner, earliest fires,
No fathom-line of covetousness plumbs,
For they sustain the universe. While man
In his poor passion only would attain,
They are inviolate to any bane,
Magnificent, taintless of scheme or plan.
So was thy love, O little heart, complete
In gift of fire! Ideal was the scope
Of plenitude, of freedom from all hope
Or any claim, as sunshine’s vernal sheet.
So to be loved across the barren days—
To have what human hearts will scarcely give,
To be upheld by gift; by fire to live
Even as the universe! O God, praise, praise!
LOVED Confessionals there are
Not for penitence, for guilt;
But for happiness or jar.
Some will find one in the quilt
Of a turf of roots and flowers,
With the face upon the mesh
Dew hath tempered many hours,
Till the grass smells washed and fresh;
And the swell against the face,
And the cold against the eyes
Quieten grief by kind embrace,
Give to rapture new surprise.
Some will find one in the sand,
Face upon the golden store
Billows lately overspanned
Till their ebbing left the floor—
Bed of warm and tranquil grain,
Only broken by the chip
Of a white shell or the pain
Of a pebble ‘gainst the lip;
There the sound of what hath been
Infinite upon the spot
Haunts it, though withdrawn unseen—
Sound that moves, but goeth not.
Others will confess to sweet
Softness of a breast and lay
Face to warmth of living heat,
Sweeter than the warmest day;
Where beneath the softness heaves
Tide that never is withdrawn;
Where the heart that fiercely grieves,
Rocking, may no longer mourn—
Smooth as rocking bird at sea;
Where for joy a throb is found,
Pulse of mortal sympathy,
Fountain of a deep profound,
Others to their pillow tell
All that in their blood they feel;
On the downy dip and swell
Hide their faces with appeal
To a gentleness of curve
Slumber sculptures for her need,
Where from slumber’s long reserve
Breaks, as fume from drowsy weed,
Secret of a powerful ease,
And a mildness breathed by dreams
That at morning-time would please,
Yea, would sun what softly seems.
Pillow, turf, nor sand, nor breast
As confessional I sought:
Nay, but down my face was pressed
In thy wondrous fur, enwrought
Of the gilded motes of sun,
And the tongues of ruddy fire,
And the wool that Jason won
When—his utmost of desire—
He had raped his Golden Fleece:
There I hid my joys and woes,
There my solitude would cease,
There my thoughts their travel close.
Dearer would that fur beguile
Than the pillow’s tenderest fold;
Deeper than the turf, its pile,
Warmer and more manifold
In its lulling magic spell
Than the seashore’s golden hum;
Sweeter of its yielded balm,
Yea, even sweeter than to come
To a human breast for calm,
Since no breast could have such sole
Comfort of itself to yield,
No such absolution whole—
Sorrow buried, joy revealed.
I WANT you, little Love, not from the skies:
To-day I want you in my starving eyes;
To see your jasper scowl across the brow,
As precious jasper barred
Scowls in its substance. I would wonder how
Thou could’st have ears so soft, yet as a pard
Such sudden feet. Oh, I would watch the glint
Of all the wealth the sun from thee could mint—
Thy paler wool that from the moon would take
Reflex of sun and into silver break.
I want you with your resolute, fine jaw
Snapped down to hold one love, one love no more,
Not mine, but hers we love: your glance, the spark
Prometheus stole as fire,
A little thing that could remove the dark
It lived through, making of its haunt a pyre;
A glance with wayward shifting of pure flame.
And strength to found a Temple-hearth, be tame
To worship, but to other curbing wild,
Nor to sky-robbing earth yet reconciled.
I want you, when to guard our door you rushed,
In whirlwind loyalty; or when you brushed
Against the knee your little chin with soft
Claim for caress, in anxious play
Still buzzing like a wasp, and claiming oft;
Or when with wary, pointed nose you lay
Hearing your mistress praise her doves aloud,
While of her praise you made a little cloud;
Or when reverberent as echoed shout
Your face acclaimed the “Yes” of going out.
I want you with the gold-set, fearful stress
With which you lived to your one blessedness.
A herald sure to your Beloved, her sign,
Her symbol, as the lion we see
Beside St. Jerome, or the wheel divine
Set by Egyptian Catharine goldenly…
Ever thy feet in fourfold trip with those
They move for; or thy body in repose.
Cast with a smack against the floor of pride
As a Knight clanged down by his lady’s side.
I want you in your great magnificence
Of Eastern calm, holding your rage in fence
Of roses and of jasmine and of grapes:
Or when in sun and wind you ran,
Flashing a joy to me such as escapes
From spirits of untameable, far span,
Who sometimes mingle in a poet’s mirth,
Having such element of starry earth
In spell about them that their very eyes
Give and receive terrestrial sympathies.
I want you in your thousand ways of love—
The rapture of your welcome, far above
What choral stars as the world rose to them
Gave in their dance of fire and light—
A welcome many moments could not stem,
That fell exhausted with Time’s cruel fight,
Fell down and slept. O little Chow, to see
These loved and perfect sights avouching thee,
Not far away, as visions may appear,
O apple of our eyes, but with us here!
WHEN others are about me and the lips
Of any other bid me to forget,
Urge me I must not suffer whole eclipse
Of light without a rim, nor let
My tears fall ever—since the dew even slips
At its own season from the earth washed wet,
Or bid me seek in other lands to find
New images to hide thee from my mind—
Then am I desolate nor do I weep;
A tongueless scream is on my breath for load;
And thou art in a little grave, deep, deep,
Scooped in my heart—such small abode
For thee, a spot so narrow where to keep
My all, in wood and stone the damps corrode.
Nay, when we laid thee in thy earthly grave
No such life-dwindling woe thy burial gave!
And when the others leave me piercingly
I wheel and cry above my hidden need,
As sea-birds for their prey beneath the sea:
Then sudden with a single heed,
I sink down where my whole desire would be,
Where I would find my unseen life and feed;
Lost in my heart my pinions seek their food;
My heart, a silver sea’s infinitude.
A sea—no tomb, no coffin…till again
Those others write or prattle at my side,
And bid me take distraction, woo my pain
To flux of pleasures, travel wide,
Then through the bitterness of my disdain
I feel thy grave where lowly thou dost hide,
And curse these comforters who bring me death,
When I alone with thee feed and draw breath.
FULL of the passions nurtured in the wild
And virgin places of the world, Whym Chow,
Thou camest to thy Mistress, as a child
Untameable of earth, and none knew how,
Save she, to mould thy untranslatable,
And native being, personality
Risen from primaeval force and under spell:
A solitary creature that must be
Lone, till there lighted in its heart a star,
First love. O infinite and savage, yet
Of sweetest temper as those creatures are
That never had a hand on them nor let
Any save Nature’s hand approach them near.
Thou wert far back from anything men write,
Far deeper in imagination’s rear
Than books can delve or poet’s lingering sight
Reach in the past of ages. Love alone
Threw on the dark of forests in thy soul
A flashlight to recesses never shown,
Where thou wert softly moving to one goal—
Love of thy Mistress, not of kind—a new
Compulsion from that Eros who began
Forth of God’s breast the darkness to subdue,
And lead it to a bliss that stars should span.
WHEN at the Door of Death,
The white door with the knocker of coiled snakes,
Shall I not cease even from my struggling breath,
Will not my voice stand by my heart that quakes,
And call, as life heaves from its mould to dust,
Call, call for thee: but listen dumb
If there is breeze of little breath up-thrust
Against the other side, or happy thrum
Of little feet upon the inner floor?
If I but hear those sounds, the bar is gone,
As if a lava-stream had split the wall;
No more the serpents and the portal wan,
A momentary blaze, then blotted out:
Death never more in front of me at all—
No knocking at the lintel echoes flout!
But thou, thou, my bright Flame, my welcome home,
My joy’s first touch…in front even of those forms
That I am rent through Death to reach. O thou,
My foremost, and my certainty love warms
The spaces of this space where spirits roam!
Close, close to me, my Chow,
My little Chow—for what hath been is passed,
We dancing glad…Those others come too fast.
O CHOW, the Peace of her I love above
All else, O feeder of her heart forlorn,
Sustainer of her torn,
Conflicted Nature with a seamless love!
Her Silence!—Light her, as with torch of fir,
O little flambeau, that hath never smoked,
Never grown dim, but ever leapt for her
Forth of its Bacchic resin; and evoked
By breath of her alone, would blaze and stir
Through desolation mountain-mists that choked
Dead hollows, till its presence came
Through them triumphant, with unbated flame.
Still love her, little Chow, still love thy Own,
For solely by thy leaping love she keeps
Live now on earth; and, of thy light alone,
By surety of thy brand that never sleeps,
Will she tread out her wandering with no moan,
Nor die! Unless thy ruddy flambeau leaps,
Naught can assuage her grief,
No mortal nor immortal give relief.
“ASK and it shall be given thee”—
Then I ask
One little spring may well up in my heart
To everlasting life. It is Thy task,
God of the Waters that impulsive start
In Love’s domain, to keep perpetual
Their care of life, their circling font at brim,
Nor to let drowth-delighting waves grow dull,
Unbreathed on by the winds from rim to rim.
God of the Living Waters, at Thy hand
I ask my little Chow’s upwelling love
In liberal current ever, Thy command
Removing cruel thirst now and above.
The End

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