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Softly, in the dusk, a woman is singing to me;

Taking me back down the vista of years, till I see

A child sitting under the piano, in the boom of the tingling strings

And pressing the small, poised feet of a mother who smiles as she sings.

In spite of myself, the insidious mastery of song

Betrays me back, till the heart of me weeps to belong

To the old Sunday evenings at home, with winter outside

And hymns in the cosy parlour, the tinkling piano our guide.

So now it is vain for the singer to burst into clamour

With the great black piano appassionato. The glamour

Of childish days is upon me, my manhood is cast

Down in the flood of remembrance, I weep like a child for the past.

At the Window

The pine-trees bend to listen to the autumn wind as it mutters

Something which sets the black poplars ashake with hysterical laughter;

While slowly the house of day is closing its eastern shutters.

Further down the valley the clustered tombstones recede,

Winding about their dimness the mist's grey cerements, after

The street lamps in the darkness have suddenly started to bleed.

The leaves fly over the window and utter a word as they pass

To the face that leans from the darkness, intent, with two dark-filled eyes

That watch for ever earnestly from behind the window glass.

Gloire de Dijon

When she rises in the morning

I linger to watch her;

She spreads the bath-cloth underneath the window

And the sunbeams catch her

Glistening white on the shoulders,

While down her sides the mellow

Golden shadow glows as

She stoops to the sponge, and her swung breasts

Sway like full-blown yellow

Gloire de Dijon roses.

She drips herself with water, and her shoulders

Glisten as silver, they crumple up

Like wet and falling roses, and I listen

For the sluicing of their rain-dishevelled petals.

In the window full of sunlight

Concentrates her golden shadow

Fold on fold, until it glows as

Mellow as the glory roses.

A Love Song

Reject me not if I should say to you

I do forget the sounding of your voice,

I do forget your eyes that searching through

The mists perceive our marriage, and rejoice.

Yet, when the apple-blossom opens wide

Under the pallid moonlight’s fingering,

I see your blanched face at my breast, and hide

My eyes from diligent work, malingering.

Ah, then, upon my bedroom I do draw

The blind to hide the garden, where the moon

Enjoys the open blossoms as they straw

Their beauty for his taking, boon for boon.

And I do lift my aching arms to you,

And I do lift my anguished, avid breast,

And I do weep for very pain of you,

And fling myself at the doors of sleep, for rest.

And I do toss through the troubled night for you,

Dreaming your yielded mouth is given to mine,

Feeling your strong breast carry me on into

The peace where sleep is stronger even than wine.

The Ship of Death


Now it is autumn and the falling fruit

and the long journey towards oblivion.

The apples falling like great drops of dew

to bruise themselves an exit from themselves.

And it is time to go, to bid farewell

to one's own self, and find an exit

from the fallen self.


Build then the ship of death, for you must take

the longest journey, to oblivion.

And die the death, the long and painful death

that lies between the old self and the new.

Already our bodies are fallen, bruised, badly bruised,

already our souls are oozing through the exit

of the cruel bruise.

Already the dark and endless ocean of the end

is washing in through the breaches of our wounds,

Already the flood is upon us.

Oh build your ship of death, your little ark

and furnish it with food, with little cakes, and wine

for the dark flight down oblivion.


The flood subsides, and the body, like a worn sea-shell

emerges strange and lovely.

And the little ship wings home, faltering and lapsing

on the pink flood,

and the frail soul steps out, into the house again

filling the heart with peace.

Swings the heart renewed with peace

even of oblivion.

Oh build your ship of death. Oh build it!

for you will need it.

For the voyage of oblivion awaits you.

Winter in the Boulevard

THE frost has settled down upon the trees

And ruthlessly strangled off the fantasies

Of leaves that have gone unnoticed, swept like old

Romantic stories now no more to be told.

The trees down the boulevard stand naked in thought,

Their abundant summery wordage silenced, caught

In the grim undertow; naked the trees confront

Implacable winter's long, cross-questioning brunt.

Has some hand balanced more leaves in the depths of the twigs?

Some dim little efforts placed in the threads of the birch?—

It is only the sparrows, like dead black leaves on the sprigs,

Sitting huddled against the cerulean, one flesh with their perch.

The clear, cold sky coldly bethinks itself.

Like vivid thought the air spins bright, and all

Trees, birds, and earth, arrested in the after-thought

Awaiting the sentence out from the welkin brought.