May step from off the world with a well-used courage,
All slouch disgrace fought out of him, a man
Well worthy of a Heaven. And this great part
Has woman in the work; that man, fordone
And wearied, may find lodging out of the noise
Upon her breast, and looking in her eyes
May wash in pools of kindness, fresh as Heaven,
The soil of sweat and trouble from his limbs;
And turning aside into this pleasant inn
Called woman, there is entertainment kept
For man, such that for cheating craftily
The stabled palter’d heart that it can pass
Through the world’s grillage and be large as fate,
The sweet anxiety of reeded pipes
Is a mere thing to it. Like Heaven street
When the steel of God’s army surges through it,
Bright anger burning on an errand of swords,
So is the sense of man when woman-joy
Pours through his flesh a throng of deity,
White clamorous flame; yea, desire of woman
Maketh the mind of more room for amazement
Than that blue loft hath for the light, more charged
With spiritual joy that goes in stress
As far as tears, with this more throbbingly charged
Than the starr’d night wept full of silver fires,—
Dangerously endured, labours of joy!
Is it not virtuous, not powerful, this?
Wouldst thou have more? Man knows he can possess
Than woman’s beauty nought more treasurable.
And high above our loud activities
We keep, pure as the dawn, the house of love,
Woman, wherein we entering leave outside
Our rank sweat-drenched weeds of toil, and there
Enjoy ourselves, out of the world, awhile.
Vashti (aside). O yes, I know. Filthiness! Filthiness!
Now here have I been toiling under press
Of glory. Should I not stumble in my gait,
Were there no Vashti, and with her a welcome
I do not need to buy, since all she wants
Is that I love her? Going in unto her
I may unstrap my burdenous pack of kingship,
Shift me of reign, and escape my splendour.
Yea, and strange largeness in this power of love
For men too much limited! Now I am sick
Of knowing my greatness, now I want to be
Placed where my soul can feel vast room about me,
To be contained. Outside, among the men,
I am the room of the world; I and my rule
Contain the world; and I am sick thereof.
Vashti can remedy this; for here thy beauty
More spacious is for my senses to be in,
Than his own golden kingdom for the sun.
Vashti. Thine eyes are glad with me? I please the King?