In memory of Gerard De Nerval.
Two loves there were, and one was born
Between the sunset and the rain;
Her singing voice went through the corn,
Her dance was woven ’neath the thorn,
On grass the fallen blossoms stain;
And suns may set, and moons may wane,
But this love comes no more again.
There were two loves and one made white,
Thy singing lips, and golden hair;
Born of the city’s mire and light,
The shame and splendour of the night,
She trapped and fled thee unaware;
Not through the lamplight and the rain
Shalt thou behold this love again.
Go forth and seek, by wood and hill,
Thine ancient love of dawn and dew;
There comes no voice from mere or rill,
Her dance is over, fallen still
The ballad burdens that she knew:
And thou must wait for her in vain,
Till years bring back thy youth again.
That other love, afield, afar
Fled the light love, with lighter feet.
Nay, though thou seek where gravesteads are,
And flit in dreams from star to star,
That dead love shalt thou never meet,
Till through bleak dawn and blowing rain
Thy soul shall find her soul again.
Plotinus, the Greek philosopher, had a certain proper mode of ecstasy, whereby, as Porphyry saith, his soul, becoming free from the deathly flesh, was made one with the Spirit that is in the world.
Alas, the path is lost, we cannot leave
Our bright, our clouded life, and pass away
As through strewn clouds, that stain the quiet eve,
To heights remoter of the purer day.
The soul may not, returning whence she came,
Bathe herself deep in Being, and forget
The joys that fever, and the cares that fret,
Made once more one with the eternal flame
That breathes in all things ever more the same.
She would be young again, thus drinking deep
Of her old life; and this has been, men say,
But this we know not, who have only sleep
To soothe us, sleep more terrible than day,
Where dead delights, and fair lost faces stray,
To make us weary at our wakening;
And of that long lost path to the Divine
We dream, as some Greek shepherd erst might sing,
Half credulous, of easy Proserpine,
And of the lands that lie ‘beneath the day’s decline.’
Some say that Helen went never to Troy, but abode in Egypt; for the gods, having made in her semblance a woman out of clouds and shadows, sent the same to be wife to Paris. For this shadow then the Greeks and Trojans slew each other.
Why from the quiet hollows of the hills,
And extreme meeting place of light and shade,
Wherein soft rains fell slowly, and became
Clouds among sister clouds, where fair spent beams
And dying glories of the sun would dwell,
Why have they whom I know not, nor may know,
Strange hands, unseen and ruthless, fashioned me,
And borne me from the silent shadowy hills,
Hither, to noise and glow of alien life,
To harsh and clamorous swords, and sound of war?