The Chalice of Circe

DRINK of our Cup--of the red wine that burns in it,
All the wild shames that have crusted its mouth,
Passion that twists in it, Madness that churns in it,
Fever that yearns in it, Folly that turns in it,
Drink of our Cup! It is Love, it is Youth!

"Amorous valleys have travailed to breed in it,
Eden hath shaken one tree at its brim,
Syria scattered an infamous seed in it,
Paphos hath freed in it lovers, to bleed in it,
Foam from Armida hath rusted its rim!

Chalice of gold with the bruised roses dying there,
How the mad kisses have clustered and clung!
All the sweet loves of the world, softly crying there,
Longing and lying there, swooning and sighing there,
Call to me: "Scatter our wine on thy tongue!"

Rim of it: poisoned with carrion kisses,
Taints the fresh flower, and forbiddeth the sun:
Doves never brood where the stirred serpent hisses
At maddening kisses--mysterious blisses:
Over its edges the spiders have spun.

Fierce wife of Philip her portion hath found in it,
Messaline waits there, Aspasia woos:
Helen and Egypt go vested and crowned in it,
Phryne is bound in it, Faustine swings round in it,
Crying: "Come down to us, watch us and choose!"

Voices are calling: "The revel begins with us,
Run thou again in the race of delight!
All the sweet chase and the capturing win with us,
Enter thou in with us, gambol and sin with us,
Fleet is the quarry and fair is the flight!"

Ere I could slake at the chalice's wonder
Lips all a-fire for the taste of such bliss,
Rose a great storm, sucked the white faces under,
And tore them asunder with fury and thunder,
Crushed the last folly and choked the last kiss.

Fiercely it flung them and savagely shattered them,
Burst the last breath in a bubble of blood!
Fury and foam of it broke them and battered them,
Scorched them and scattered them, tortured and tattered them,
Hurling their limbs in the froth of the flood.

. . . . . . .

Perished their promise, their beauty forsaken;
Silence alone walked the face of the deep:
The whirlpool was stilled, and the surface with snaken
Small ripples was shaken, as if did awaken
Some sorrowful ghost from the margin of sleep.

Nothing was left of their beauty and 'plaining--
Left of their magic and spared of their spell:
Only the lip of the dark water, staining
The roses, fast waning; and only the craning
Of snakes' heads, disturbed by the petals that fell.

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