Guide First Kingdoms: Poems from a Vanishing Landscape

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For poet you must always maiden be Even though his eyes the woman in you wake Wedding brocade your fragile wrists would break, Mysterious, elusive, from him flee. Within his garden let him wait alone Where benches stand expectant in the shade Within the chamber where the lyre was played Where he received you as the eternal One. It grows dark—your voice and form no more His senses seek; he now no longer sees A white robe fluttering under dark beech trees Along the pathway where it gleamed before.

He loves the long paths where no footfalls ring, And he loves much the silent chamber where Like a soft whisper through the quiet air He hears your voice, far distant, vanishing. The softly stealing echo comes again From crowds of men whom, wearily, he shuns; And many see you there—so his thought runs— And tenderest memories are pierced with pain. Call aloud to me!

Thy bride her vigil at the window keeps; The evening wanes to dusk, the dimness creeps Down empty alleys of the old plane-tree. Let thy voice enfold me close about, Or from this dark house, lonely and remote, Through deep blue gardens where gray shadows float I will pour forth my soul with hands stretched out It is time. So great was Summer's glow: Thy shadows lay upon the dials' faces And o'er wide spaces let thy tempests blow. Command to ripen the last fruits of thine, Give to them two more burning days and press The last sweetness into the heavy wine.

He who has now no house will ne'er build one, Who is alone will now remain alone; He will awake, will read, will letters write Through the long day and in the lonely night; And restless, solitary, he will rove Where the leaves rustle, wind-blown, in the grove. From the old tower the hours fall heavily Into the dark as though into the sea— A rustle, a call of night-watch in the grove, Then for a while void silence fills the air; And then a violin from God knows where Awakes and slowly sings: Oh Love Oh Love After long rainy afternoons an hour Comes with its shafts of golden light and flings Them at the windows in a radiant shower, And rain drops beat the panes like timorous wings.

Then all is still. The stones are crooned to sleep By the soft sound of rain that slowly dies; And cradled in the branches, hidden deep In each bright bud, a slumbering silence lies. The room betrayed the mother—so she felt— She kissed her boy and questioned "Are you here? Toward the piano they both shyly glanced For she would sing to him on many a night, And the child seated in the fading light Would listen strangely as if half entranced, His large eyes fastened with a quiet glow Upon the hand which by her ring seemed bent And slowly wandering o'er the white keys went Moving as though against a drift of snow.

When with proud joy we lift Life's red wine To drink deep of the mystic shining cup And ecstasy through all our being leaps— Death bows his head and weeps. THE ASHANTEE Jardin d'Acclimatation, Paris No vision of exotic southern countries, No dancing women, supple, brown and tall Whirling from out their falling draperies To melodies that beat a fierce mad call; No sound of songs that from the hot blood rise, No langorous, stretching, dusky, velvet maids Flashing like gleaming weapon their bright eyes, No swift, wild thrill the quickening blood pervades.

Only mouths widening with a still broad smile Of comprehension, a strange knowing leer At white men, at their vanity and guile, An understanding that fills one with fear. The beasts in cages much more loyal are, Restlessly pacing, pacing to and fro, Dreaming of countries beckoning from afar, Lands where they roamed in days of long ago.

They burn with an unquenched and smothered fire Consumed by longings over which they brood, Oblivious of time, without desire, Alone and lost in their great solitude.

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In the dusk of the shelves, embossed Shine the volumes in gold and browns, And you think of countries once crossed, Of pictures, of shimmering gowns Of the women that you have lost. And it comes to you then at last— And you rise for you are aware Of a year in the far off past With its wonder and fear and prayer.

Through the garden it stole Like wandering steps, like a whisper—then mute; What play you, O Boy? And what conjure you? Imprisoned is the song, It lingers and longs in the reeds where it lies; Your young life is strong, but how much more strong Is the longing that through your music sighs. Let your flute be still and your soul float through Waves of sound formless as waves of the sea, For here your song lived and it wisely grew Before it was forced into melody.

Its wings beat gently, its note no more calls, Its flight has been spent by you, dreaming Boy!

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Now it no longer steals over my walls— But in my garden I'd woo it to joy. He came! You felt yourself entwined As a great storm would round you wind. He went! A blessing undefined Seemed left, as when church-bells declined And left you wrapt in prayer.

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You fain would cry aloud—but bind Your scarf about you and tear-blind Weep softly in its fold. A young knight comes into my mind Full armored forth to fare. His smile was luminously kind Like glint of ivory enshrined, Like a home longing undivined, Like Christmas snows where dark ways wind, Like sea-pearls about turquoise twined, Like moonlight silver when combined With a loved book's rare gold. Will it come? They wait—It must come soon! The next long hour slowly strikes at last, The whole house stirs again, the feast is past, And sadly passes by the afternoon Like resurrection were the garments white The wreathed procession walked through trees arched wide Into the church, as cool as silk inside, With long aisles of tall candles flaming bright: The lights all shone like jewels rich and rare To solemn eyes that watched them gleam and flare.

Seamus Heaney

Then through the silence the great song rose high Up to the vaulted dome like clouds it soared, Then luminously, gently down it poured— Over white veils like rain it seemed to die. The wind through the white garments softly stirred And they grew vari-coloured in each fold And each fold hidden blossoms seemed to hold And flowers and stars and fluting notes of bird, And dim, quaint figures shimmering like gold Seemed to come forth from distant myths of old.

Outside the day was one of green and blue, With touches of a luminous glowing red, Across the quiet pond the small waves sped. Beyond the city, gardens hidden from view Sent odors of sweet blossoms on the breeze And singing sounded through the far off trees. It was as though garlands crowned everything And all things were touched softly by the sun; And many windows opened one by one And the light trembled on them glistening.

I long for you. To you I glide And lose myself—for to you I belong.

Michelle Bonczek Evory

The hope that hitherto I have denied Imperious comes to me as from your side Serious, unfaltering and swift and strong. Those times: the times when I was quite alone By memories wrapt that whispered to me low, My silence was the quiet of a stone Over which rippling murmuring waters flow. But in these weeks of the awakening Spring Something within me has been freed—something That in the past dark years unconscious lay, Which rises now within me and commands And gives my poor warm life into your hands Who know not what I was that Yesterday.

He seems the center around which stars glow While all earth's ostentations surge below. Immovably and silently he stands Placed where the confused current ebbs and flows; Past fathomless dark depths that he commands A shallow generation drifting goes Who are you then, Marie? I am a Queen, I am a Queen!

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To your knee, to your knee! And then she weeps: I was—a child— Who were you then, Marie? Know you that I was no man's child, Poor and in rags—said she. And then a Princess I became To whom men bend their knees; To princes things are not the same As those a beggar sees. And those things which have made you great Came to you, tell me, when? One night, one night, one night quite late, Things became different then. I walked the lane which presently With strung chords seemed to bend; Then Marie became Melody And danced from end to end. The people watched with startled mien And passed with frightened glance For all know that only a Queen May dance in the lanes: dance!

All things are long passed away and far. A light is shining but the distant star From which it still comes to me has been dead A thousand years In the dim phantom boat That glided past some ghastly thing was said. A clock just struck within some house remote. Which house?

Edgar Allan Poe's “Annabel Lee" by Aaron Quinn

Beneath the sky's vast dome I long to pray Of all the stars there must be far away A single star which still exists apart. And I believe that I should know the one Which has alone endured and which alone Like a white City that all space commands At the ray's end in the high heaven stands. SYMBOLS From infinite longings finite deeds rise As fountains spring toward far-off glowing skies, But rushing swiftly upward weakly bend And trembling from their lack of power descend— So through the falling torrent of our fears Our joyous force leaps like these dancing tears.

There is as yet no shadow in his glance, Too cool his temples for the laurel's glow; But later o'er those marble brows, perchance, A rose-garden with bushes tall will grow, And single petals one by one will fall O'er the still mouth and break its silent thrall, —The mouth that trembles with a dawning smile As though a song were rising there the while. The same as of yore All that has happened once again must be. As grows a lemon-tree upon the shore— It was like that—your light, small breasts you bore, And his blood's current coursed like the wild sea.

That god— who was the wanderer, the slim Despoiler of fair women; he—the wise,— But sweet and glowing as your thoughts of him Who cast a shadow over your young limb While bending like your arched brows o'er your eyes. From me you ever take your flight, Your swift wings wound me as they whir along; Without you void would be my day and night, Without you I'll not capture my great song. I have no earthly spot where I can live, I have no love, I have no household fane, And all the things to which myself I give Impoverish me with richness they attain. The pad of his strong feet, that ceaseless sound Of supple tread behind the iron bands, Is like a dance of strength circling around, While in the circle, stunned, a great will stands.

But there are times the pupils of his eyes Dilate, the strong limbs stand alert, apart, Tense with the flood of visions that arise Only to sink and die within his heart. When the group of people arose at last And laughed and talked in a merry tone, As lingeringly through the rooms they passed I saw that she followed alone. Tense and still like one who to sing must rise Before a throng on a festal night She lifted her head, and her bright glad eyes Were like pools which reflected light. She followed on slowly after the last As though some object must be passed by, And yet as if were it once but passed She would no longer walk but fly.