Troth with the Dead
The moon is broken in twain, and half a moon
Before me lies on the still, pale floor of the sky;
The other half of the broken coin of troth
Is buried away in the dark, where the still dead lie.
They buried her half in the grave when they laid her away;
I had pushed it gently in among the thick of her hair
Where it gathered towards the plait, on that very last day;
And like a moon in secret it is shining there.
Translations Dante - Inferno, Canto XXVI
Florence, rejoice! For thou o'er land and sea
So spread'st thy pinions that the fame of thee
Hath reached no less into the depths of Hell.
So noble were the five I found to dwell
Therein -- thy sons -- whence shame accrues to me
And no great praise is thine; but if it be
That truth unveil in dreamings before dawn,
Then is the vengeful hour not far withdrawn
When Prato shall exult within her walls
To see thy suffering. Whate'er befalls,
Let it come soon, since come it must, for later,
You may give over plough, boys,
You may take the gear to the stead,
All the sweat o' your brow, boys,
Will never get beer and bread.
The seed's waste, I know, boys,
There's not a blade will grow, boys,
'Tis cropped out, I trow, boys,
And Tommy's dead.
Two Wishes XI
In the silence of the night Death descended from God toward the earth. He hovered above a city and pierced the dwellings with his eyes. He say the spirits floating on wings of dreams, and the people who were surrendered to the Slumber.
When the moon fell below the horizon and the city became black, Death walked silently among the houses -- careful to touch nothing -- until he reached a palace. He entered through the bolted gates undisturbed, and stood by the rich man's bed; and as Death touched his forehead, the sleeper's eyes opened, showing great fright.
In the fair morning of his life,
When his pure heart lay in his breast,
Panting, with all that wild unrest
To plunge into the great world's strife
That fills young hearts with mad desire,
He saw a sunset. Red and gold
The burning billows surged and rolled,
And upward tossed their caps of fire.
He looked. And as he looked the sight
Sent from his soul through breast and brain
Such intense joy, it hurt like pain.
His heart seemed bursting with delight.
The stars were wild that summer evening
As on the low lake shore stood you and I
And every time I caught your flashing eye
Or heard your voice discourse on anything
It seemed a star went burning down the sky.
I looked into your heart that dying summer
And found your silent woman's heart grown wild
Whereupon you turned to me and smiled
Saying you felt afraid but that you were
Weary of being mute and undefiled
Two on the Terrace
Warm waves of lavish moonlight
The Capitol enfold,
As if a richer noon light
Bathed its white walls with gold.
The great bronze Freedom shining,
Her crest in ether shrining,
Peers eastward as divining
The new day from the old.
Mark the mild planet pouring
Her splendor o'er the ground;
See the white obelisk soaring
To pierce the blue profound.
Beneath the still heavens beaming,
The lighted town lies gleaming,
In guarded slumber dreaming-
A world without a sound.
Two centuries' winter storms have lashed the changing sands of Falmouth's shore,
Deep-voiced, the winds, swift winged, wild, have echoed there the ocean's roar.
But though the north-east gale unleashed, rage-blind with power, relentless beat,
The sturdy light-house sheds its beam on waves churned white beneath the sleet.
And still when cold and fear are past, and fields are sweet with spring-time showers,
Mystic, the gray age-silent hills breathe out their souls in fair mayflowers.