Slowly the cowering corse reared up its head,
’Nay, I am vile ... but when for all to see,
You stand there, pure and painless—death of life!
Let the stars fall—I say you slander me!
’You make me perfect, public, colourless;
You make my virtues sit at ease—you lie!
For mine were never easy—lost or saved,
I had a soul—I was. And where am I?
Where is my good? the little real hoard,
The secret tears, the sudden chivalries;
The tragic love, the futile triumph—where?
Thief, dog, and son of devils—where are these?
I will lift up my head: in leprous loves
Lost, and the soul’s dishonourable scars—
By God I was a better man than This
That stands and slanders me to all the stars.
‘Come down!’ And with an awful cry, the
Sprang on the sacred tomb of many tales,
And stone and bone, locked in a loathsome strife,
Swayed to the singing of the nightingales.
Then one was thrown: and where the statue stood
Under the canopy, above the lawn,
The corse stood; grey and lean, with lifted hands
Raised in tremendous welcome to the dawn.
’Now let all nations climb and crawl and pray;
Though I be basest of my old red clan,
They shall not scale, with cries or sacrifice,
The stature of the spirit of a man.’
The violet scent is sacred
Like dreams of angels bright;
The hawthorn smells of passion
Told in a moonless night.
But the smell is in my nostrils,
Through blossoms red or gold,
Of my own green flower unfading,
A bitter smell and bold.
The lily smells of pardon,
The rose of mirth; but mine
Smells shrewd of death and honour,
And the doom of Adam’s line.
The heavy scent of wine-shops
Floats as I pass them by,
But never a cup I quaff from,
And never a house have I.
Till dropped down forty fathoms,
I lie eternally;
And drink from God’s own goblet
The green wine of the sea.
THE TRIUMPH OF MAN
I plod and peer amid mean sounds and shapes,
I hunt for dusty gain and dreary praise,
And slowly pass the dismal grinning days,
Monkeying each other like a line of apes.
What care? There was one hour amid all these
When I had stripped off like a tawdry glove
My starriest hopes and wants, for very love
Of time and desolate eternities.
Yea, for one great hour’s triumph, not in me
Nor any hope of mine did I rejoice,
But in a meadow game of girls and boys
Some sunset in the centuries to be.
A mountainous and mystic brute
No rein can curb, no arrow shoot,
Upon whose domed deformed back
I sweep the planets scorching track.