THE cloud my bed is tinged with blood and foam.
        The vault yet blazes with the sun
      Writhing above the West, brave hippodrome
        Whose gladiators shock and shun
      As the blue night devours them, crested comb
        Of sleep's dead sea
      That eats the shores of life, rings round eternity!



      So, he is gone whose giant sword shed flame
        Into my bowels; my blood's bewitched;
      My brain's afloat with ecstasy of shame.
        That tearing pain is gone, enriched
      By his life-spasm; but he being gone, the same
        Myself is gone
      Sucked by the dragon down below death's horizon.



      I woke from this.  I lay upon the lawn;
        They had thrown roses on the moss                  {93}
      With all their thorns; we came there at the dawn,
        My lord and I; God sailed across
      The sky in's galleon of amber, drawn
        By singing winds
      While we wove garlands of the flowers of our minds.



      All day my lover deigned to murder me,
        Linking his kisses in a chain
      About my neck; demon-embroidery!
        Bruises like far-ff mountains stain
      The valley of my body of ivory!
        Then last came sleep.
      I wake, and he is gone; what should I do but weep?



      Nay, for I wept enough --- more sacred tears! ---
        When first he pinned me, gripped
      My flesh, and as a stallion that rears,
        Sprang, hero-thewed and satyr-lipped;
      Crushed, as a grape between his teeth, my fears;
        Sucked out my life
      And stamped me with the shame, the monstrous word of



      I will not weep; nay, I will follow him
        Perchance he is not far,                       {94}
      Bathing his limbs in some delicious dim
        Depth, where the evening star
      May kiss his mouth, or by the black sky's rim
        He makes his prayer
      To the great serpent that is coiled in rapture there.



      I rose to seek him.  First my footsteps faint
        Pressed the starred moss; but soon
      I wandered, like some sweet sequestered saint,
        Into the wood, my mind.  The moon
      Was staggered by the trees; with fierce constraint
        Hardly one ray
      Pierced to the ragged earth about their roots that lay.



      I wandered, crying on my Lord.  I wandered
        Eagerly seeking everywhere.
      The stories of life that on my lips he squandered
        Grew into shrill cries of despair,
      Until the dryads frightened and dumfoundered
        Fled into space ---
      Like to a demon-king's was grown my maiden face!



      At last I came unto the well, my soul.
        In that still glass, I saw no sign                      {95}
      Of him, and yet --- what visions there uproll
        To cloud that mirror-soul of mine?
      Above my head there screams a flying scroll
        Whose word burnt through
      My being as when stars drop in black disastrous dew.



      For in that scroll was written how the globe
        Of space became; of how the light
      Broke in that space and wrapped it in a robe
        Of glory; of how One most white
      Withdrew that Whole, and hid it in the lobe
        Of his right Ear,
      So that the Universe one dewdrop did appear.



      Yea! and the end revealed a word, a spell,
        An incantation, a device
      Whereby the Eye of the Most Terrible
        Wakes from its wilderness of ice
      To flame, whereby the very core of hell
        Bursts from its rind,
      Sweeping the world away into the blank of mind.



      So then I saw my fault; I plunged within
        The well, and brake the images
      That I had made, as I must make --- Men spin                {96}
        The webs that snare them --- while the knees
      Bend to the tyrant God --- or unto Sin
        The lecher sunder!
      Ah! came that undulant light from over or from under?



      It matters not.  Come, change!  come, Woe!   Come, mask!
        Drive Light, Life, Love into the deep!
      In vain we labour at the loathsome task
        Not knowing if we wake or sleep;
      But in the end we lift the plumed casque
        Of the dead warrior;
      Find no chaste corpse therein, but a soft-smiling whore.



      Then I returned into myself, and took
        All in my arms, God's universe:
      Crushed its black juice out, while His anger shook
        His dumbness pregnant with a curse.
      I made me ink, and in a little book
        I wrote one word
      That God himself, the adder of Thought, had never heard.



      It detonated.  Nature, God, mankind
        Like sulphur, nitre, charcoal, once                         {97}
      Blended, in one annihilation blind
        Were rent into a myriad of suns.
      Yea! all the mighty fabric of a Mind
        Stood in the abyss,
      Belching a Law for "That" more awful than for "This."



      Vain was the toil.  So then I left the wood
        And came unto the still black sea,
      That oily monster of beatitude!
        ('Hath "Thee" for "Me," and "Me" for "Thee!")
      There as I stood, a mask of solitude
        Hiding a face
      Wried as a satyr's, rolled that ocean into space.



      Then did I build an altar on the shore
        Of oyster-shells, and ringed it round
      With star-fish.  Thither a green flame I bore
        Of phosphor foam, and strewed the ground
      With dew-drops, children of my wand, whose core
        Was trembling steel
      Electric that made spin the universal Wheel.



      With that a goat came running from the cave
        That lurked below the tall white cliff.                   {98}
      Thy name! cried I.  The answer that gave
        Was but one tempest-whisper --- "If!"
      Ah, then! his tongue to his black palate clave;
        For on soul's curtain
      Is written this one certainty that naught is certain!



      So then I caught that goat up in a kiss.
         And cried Io Pan!  Io Pan!  Io Pan!
      Then all this body's wealth of ambergris,
        (Narcissus-scented flesh of man!)
      I burnt before him in the sacrifice;
        For he was sure ---
      Being the Doubt of Things, the one thing to endure!



      Wherefore, when madness took him at the end,
        He, doubt-goat, slew the goat of doubt;
      And that which inward did for ever tend
        Came at the last to have come out;
      And I who had the World and God to friend
        Found all three foes!
      Drowned in that sea of changes, vacancies, and woes!



      Yet all that Sea was swallowed up therein;
        So they were not, and it was not.                         {99}
      As who should sweat his soul out through the skin
        And find (sad fool!) he had begot
      All that without him that he had left in,
        And in himself
      All he had taken out thereof, a mocking elf!



      But now that all was gone, great Pan appeared.
        Him then I strove to woo, to win,
      Kissing his curled lips, playing with his beard,
        Setting his brain a-shake, a-spin,
      By that strong wand, and muttering of the weird
        That only I
      Knew of all souls alive or dead beneath the sky.



      So still I conquered, and the vision passed.
        Yet still was beaten, for I knew
      Myself was He, Himself, the first and last;
        And as an unicorn drinks dew
      From under oak-leaves, so my strength was cast
        Into the mire;
      For all I did was dream, and all I dreamt desire.



      More; in this journey I had clean forgotten
        The quest, my lover.  But the tomb                        {100}
      Of all these thoughts, the rancid and the rotten,
        Proved in the end to be my womb
      Wherein my Lord and lover had begotten
        A little child
      To drive me, laughing lion, into the wanton wild!



      This child hath not one hair upon his head,
        But he hath wings instead of ears.
      No eyes hath he, but all his light is shed
        Within him on the ordered spheres
      Of nature that he hideth; and in stead
        Of mouth he hath
      One minute point of jet; silence, the lightning path!



      Also his nostrils are shut up; for he
        Hath not the need of any breath;
      Nor can the curtain of eternity
        Cover that head with life or death.
      So all his body, a slim almond-tree,
        Knoweth no bough
      Nor branch nor twig nor bud, from never until now.



      This thought I bred within my bowels, I am.
        I am in him, as he in me;                                 {101}
      And like a satyr ravishing a lamb
        So either seems, or as the sea
      Swallows the whale that swallows it, the ram
        Beats its own head
      Upon the city walls, that fall as it falls dead.



      Come, let me back unto the lilied lawn!
        Pile me the roses and the thorns,
      Upon this bed from which he hath withdrawn!
        He may return.  A million morns
      May follow that first dire daemonic dawn
        When he did split
      My spirit with his lightnings and enveloped it!



      So I am stretched out naked to the knife,
        My whole soul twitching with the stress
      Of the expected yet surprising strife,
        A martyrdom of blessedness.
      Though Death came, I could kiss him into life;
        Though Life came, I
      Could kiss him into death, and yet nor live nor die!



      Yet I that am the babe, the sire, the dam,
        Am also none of these at all;                             {102}
      For now that cosmic chaos of I AM
        Bursts like a bubble.  Mystical
      The night comes down, a soaring wedge of flame
        Woven therein
      To be a sign to them who yet have never been.



      The universe I measured with my rod.
        The blacks were balanced with the whites;
      Satan dropped down even as up soared God;
        Whores prayed and danced with anchorites.
      So in my book the even matched the odd:
        No word I wrote
      Therein, but sealed it with the signet of the goat.



      This also I seal up.  Read thou herein
        Whose eyes are blind!  Thou may'st behold
      Within the wheel (that alway seems to spin
        All ways) a point of static gold.
      Then may'st thou out therewith, and fit it in
        That extreme sphere
      Whose boundless farness makes it infinitely near. 




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Return To Table of Contents Vol. I Number II.