A fern surrounds my life like a hollow maze
In the intricate lattice of love’s first gaze;
Following a pattern that guides me on this road
I reach for her lips beneath the mistletoe.
My love comes forth with the apple of desire,
A tangled taste that takes a life to acquire;
Magic and nightshade in a mandrake stew,
I drink the nighttime herbs in a witch’s brew.
Seared in my skin like a tattoo of her name,
My cry has faded to a touch without shame;
Pulled by a thread that stains the earth and sky
30. On the Death of Rusticus -Foul Asian coast, his life hast thou betrayed,
On thee by guilty waves his corpse was tossed.
Close in her breast his loving spouse conveyed
The sacred urn, too soon the seas were crossed,
Too soon those ashes in the earth she laid,
And seemed twice widowed of a love twice lost.
27. To Flaccus -A MAN of adamant you surely are
To love a dame who loves stale vinegar,
A dame whose palate whelks and tripe enchant,
Who thinks bananas too extravagant,
Whose maid brings in (rare trove!) a common pot
Of spoiled sardines to eat before they rot;
Grown lowish now and not afraid to shock
She begs for flannelette to make a frock;
My dame will ask for attar, precious stuff,
" Worth " for her frocks is hardly good enough:
Fine graded pearls and emeralds I must find.
And gold is copper to her generous mind.
56. The Voyage -S PENDOPHORUS must on his lord attend
And soon to Libya his way will wend.
Give him, dear Love, a wand and those soft darts
Wherewith thou woundest eager lovers' hearts.
Cuirass and shield and helm I leave to thee,
He will be safe if naked he shall be,
E'en as Parthenopaeus felt no blow
From foemen's dart while they could see his brow.
But whomsoe'er he pierces straight will die
Of love — how happy in death's agony!
O beauty bright, from Africa come home
And grow to manhood here with us in Rome.
14. On a Parasite -Do you think that this man, whom your generous board
Has got you for friend, can true friendship afford?
It's your oysters and mullet he loves, sir, not you:
If my dinners were good, he would be my friend too.
If Thou Were Dead!: 15 -If thou wert dead, O love, — if thou wert dead, —
How could one summer sunset dare to gleam
Above the ripples of the rosied stream?
How could one rose blush into mocking red?
If death's wreath whitened round thy dear dark head
No leaf of bay would lure my glance again:
For thou art as the fountain of my strain,
Whence buoyant waters towards the plains are led.
If thou wert gone, O love, — if thou wert gone, —
How could the thoughtless heartless sun shine on!
How could the same chant fill the sea's dull soul
Alone: 13 -On lovers loving in the silent night
The holy spirit of spotless God descends
And with their souls magnificently blends,
Till as their lips touch lo! their souls are white,
And as their eyes meet lo! those eyes are bright
With the eternal power God's spirit sends:
Far-off from home, apart from fame or friends,
They rest in God's unutterable light.
O love, we were unspeakably alone
With Love and God: thou wast alone with me,
And I with God who claimed us for his own,
And thou with God, and I alone with thee, —
Our Self-Existence: 6 -Through pain we reach a lonely region fair
With the immortal mountain-winds of God,
Whereunto winds a weird untravelled road,
Thrilled by the high song of the mountain-air.
The altar of our faithful love is there
On the sheer hill-side trackless and untrod;
By power of earnest endless passion shod
Our feet have climbed the rocks and glaciers bare.
And now we stand together on the height
And sweeter than the singing of the vale
Is this my harp-string that the keen airs smite,
Saint-Flower, A: 1 -Because thou art a saint, and clothed in white,
Thou art to me the sweetest of all flowers,
And far more fragrant are thy beauty's bowers
Than those that flaunt their bloom to daily sight.
Love is a small thing, when the love is light, —
But the great love that mocketh mortal hours
And sings the clearer when the storm-cloud lowers,
Endures beyond earth's day, beyond death's night.
Because thou art a saint, thou art a flower,
And thou art woman in that thou art saint,
And angel in thy womanhood's pure power,
I Love You More Than All the Windows in New York CityThe day turned into the city
and the city turned into the mind
and the moving trucks trumbled along
like loud worries speaking over
the bicycle"s idea
which wove between
the more armored vehicles of expression
and over planks left by the construction workers
on a holiday morning when no work was being done
because no matter the day, we tend towards
remaking parts of it — what we said
or did, or how we looked —
and the buildings were like faces
lining the banks of a parade