She Rebukes Hippolyta

Was she so chaste?

Swift and a broken rock
clatters across the steep shelf
of the mountain slope,
sudden and swift
and breaks as it clatters down
into the hollow breach
of the dried water-course:
far and away
(through fire I see it,
and smoke of the dead, withered stalks
of the wild cistus-brush)
Hippolyta, frail and wild,
galloping up the slope
between great boulder and rock
and group and cluster of rock.

Was she so chaste,
(I see it, sharp, this vision,
and each fleck on the horse's flanks
of foam, and bridle and bit,
silver, and the straps,
wrought with their perfect art,
and the sun,
striking athwart the silver-work,
and the neck, strained forward, ears alert,
and the head of a girl
flung back and her throat)

Was she so chaste—
(Ah, burn my fire, I ask
out of the smoke-ringed darkness
enclosing the flaming disk
of my vision)
I ask for a voice to answer:
was she chaste?

Who can say—
the broken ridge of the hills
was the line of a lover's shoulder,
his arm-turn, the path to the hills,
the sudden leap and swift thunder
of mountain boulders, his laugh.

She was mad—
as no priest, no lover's cult
could grant madness;
the wine that entered her throat
with the touch of the mountain rocks
was white, intoxicant:
she, the chaste,
was betrayed by the glint
of light on the hills,
the granite splinter of rocks,
the touch of the stone
where heat melts
toward the shadow-side of the rocks.
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