Vashti. Too well I know the first, the scarlet clad; And she, that was in shining white and gold, Was as the sound of bees and waters, at last Heard by one long closed in the dins of madness. But what was she, the black-robed, with the eyes So fearfully alight, the last who spoke?
Take none of these for perfect: they are moods
Purifying my women to become
My unexpressive, uttermost intent.—
As music binds into a strict delight
The manifold random sounds that shake the air,
Even so fashioned must I have the being
That fills with rushing power the boundless spirit:
Amidst it, musically firm, a joy
That is a fiery knowledge of itself,
Thereby self-continent, a globed fire.
And she who gave thee wonder, is the sign
Of those who firmest, brightest hold their being
Fastened and seized in one enjoyed desire.
Yet even they are but a making ready
For what I perfectly intend: in them
Joy of self-bound desire hath burnt itself
To extreme purity; I am free thereby
To work my meaning through them, my divinity.
Yea, such clean fire in man and such in woman
To mingle wonderfully, that the twain
Become a moment of one blazing flame
Infinitely upward towering, far beyond
The boundless fate of spirit in the world.
But in the way to this are maladies
And anguish; and as a perilous bridge
Over the uncontrolled demanding world,
Virginity, passionate self-possessing,
Must build itself supreme, unbreakable.
—I leave thee: as thou mayst, be comforted
By prophecy of what I mean in life.
Against thee is not Heaven, and thou must
Endure the hatred men will throw upon thee.
* * * * *
The shining place where Ishtar looked at her
Empty the Queen beheld; and into mist
The glory fainted, and the stars came through
Untroubled. Into the night the Queen went on.
[A LEGEND OF THE FORTY-FIVE]
A street in Carlisle leading to the Scottish Gate. Three girls, MARY, KATRINA, and JEAN.
Katrina. What a year this has been!
There’s many a lass
Will blench to hear the date of it—Forty-five,— Poor souls! Why will the men be fighting so, Running away to find out death, as if It were some tavern full of light and fiddling? And when the doors are shut, what of the girls Who gave themselves away, and still must live? Are not men thoughtless?
Leaving only kisses
To be remembered by.
That’s not so bad
As when the dead lads went beyond kissing.
Mary. Poor souls! Well, Carlisle has at least three hearts That are not crying for a lad who’s gone Listening to the lean old Crowder, Death. We needn’t mope: and yet it’s sad.