Come slowly—Eden Lips unused to Thee— Bashful—sip thy Jessamines As the fainting Bee— Reaching late his flower, Round her chamber hums— Counts his nectars— Enters—and is lost in Balms.
Yes as thievery, except if saved for
a fantasy in which I in a backless
you on a typical balcony
overlooking Vltava, gripping the latticework,
metal, a barrier to leaping
into an esoteric night, fixed and ornate
enough, like my penchant for the infinite
within the singular, encounter you
as tributary, serpentine, the heat of your fingers
on my spine, my head turning
as you bend to catch the yes
I'd held latent, a mine you trigger with
your tongue, neither of us
mean to stop exploding.
Just as I wonder whether it's going to die, the orchid blossoms and I can't explain why it moves my heart, why such pleasure comes from one small bud on a long spindly stem, one blood red gold flower opening at mid-summer, tiny, perfect in its hour. Even to a white- haired craggy poet, it's purely erotic, pistil and stamen, pollen, dew of the world, a spoonful of earth, and water. Erotic because there's death at the heart of birth, drama in those old sunrise prisms in wet cedar boughs, deepest mystery in washing evening dishes or teasing my wife, who grows, yes, more beautiful because one of us will die.
Traveling over your body I found
The failing olive and the cajoling flute,
Where I knelt down, as if in prayer,
And sucked a moist pit
From the marl
Of the earth in a sacred cove.
You gave yourself to the god who comes,
The liberator of the loud shout,
While I fell into a trance,
Blood on my lips,
And stumbled into a temple on top
Of a hill at the bottom of the sky.
Strephon kissed me in the spring, Robin in the fall, But Colin only looked at me And never kissed at all. Strephon's kiss was lost in jest, Robin's lost in play, But the kiss in Colin's eyes Haunts me night and day.
When you are old and grey and full of sleep, And nodding by the fire, take down this book, And slowly read, and dream of the soft look Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep; How many loved your moments of glad grace, And loved your beauty with love false or true, But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you, And loved the sorrows of your changing face; And bending down beside the glowing bars, Murmur, a little sadly, how Love fled And paced upon the mountains overhead And hid his face amid a crowd of stars.
The red rose whispers of passion, And the white rose breathes of love; O, the red rose is a falcon, And the white rose is a dove. But I send you a cream-white rosebud With a flush on its petal tips; For the love that is purest and sweetest Has a kiss of desire on the lips.
What lips my lips have kissed, and where, and why, I have forgotten, and what arms have lain Under my head till morning; but the rain Is full of ghosts tonight, that tap and sigh Upon the glass and listen for reply, And in my heart there stirs a quiet pain For unremembered lads that not again Will turn to me at midnight with a cry. Thus in winter stands the lonely tree, Nor knows what birds have vanished one by one, Yet knows its boughs more silent than before: I cannot say what loves have come and gone, I only know that summer sang in me A little while, that in me sings no more.
Never give all the heart, for love
Will hardly seem worth thinking of
To passionate women if it seem
Certain, and they never dream
That it fades out from kiss to kiss;
For everything that's lovely is
But a brief, dreamy, kind delight.
O never give the heart outright,
For they, for all smooth lips can say,
Have given their hearts up to the play.
And who could play it well enough
If deaf and dumb and blind with love?
He that made this knows all the cost,
For he gave all his heart and lost.
He would not stay for me, and who can wonder? He would not stay for me to stand and gaze. I shook his hand, and tore my heart in sunder, And went with half my life about my ways.
I do not love thee!—no! I do not love thee! And yet when thou art absent I am sad; And envy even the bright blue sky above thee, Whose quiet stars may see thee and be glad. I do not love thee!—yet, I know not why, Whate’er thou dost seems still well done, to me: And often in my solitude I sigh That those I do love are not more like thee! I do not love thee!—yet, when thou art gone, I hate the sound (though those who speak be dear) Which breaks the lingering echo of the tone Thy voice of music leaves upon my ear. I do not love thee!—yet thy speaking eyes, With their deep, bright, and most expressive blue, Between me and the midnight heaven arise, Oftener than any eyes I ever knew. I know I do not love thee! yet, alas! Others will scarcely trust my candid heart; And oft I catch them smiling as they pass, Because they see me gazing where thou art.
Never seek to tell thy love, Love that never told can be; For the gentle wind doth move Silently, invisibly. I told my love, I told my love, I told her all my heart, Trembling, cold, in ghastly fears. Ah! she did depart! Soon after she was gone from me, A traveller came by, Silently, invisibly: He took her with a sigh.
Remember me when I am gone away, Gone far away into the silent land; When you can no more hold me by the hand, Nor I half turn to go yet turning stay. Remember me when no more day by day You tell me of our future that you planned: Only remember me; you understand It will be late to counsel then or pray. Yet if you should forget me for a while And afterwards remember, do not grieve: For if the darkness and corruption leave A vestige of the thoughts that once I had, Better by far you should forget and smile Than that you should remember and be sad.
What can I give you, my lord, my lover, You who have given the world to me, Showed me the light and the joy that cover The wild sweet earth and restless sea? All that I have are gifts of your giving— If I gave them again, you would find them old, And your soul would weary of always living Before the mirror my life would hold. What shall I give you, my lord, my lover? The gift that breaks the heart in me: I bid you awake at dawn and discover I have gone my way and left you free.
You are ice and fire, The touch of you burns my hands like snow. You are cold and flame. You are the crimson of amaryllis, The silver of moon-touched magnolias. When I am with you, My heart is a frozen pond Gleaming with agitated torches.
Look back with longing eyes and know that I will follow,
Lift me up in your love as a light wind lifts a swallow,
Let our flight be far in sun or blowing rain—
But what if I heard my first love calling me again?
Hold me on your heart as the brave sea holds the foam,
Take me far away to the hills that hide your home;
Peace shall thatch the roof and love shall latch the door—
But what if I heard my first love calling me once more?
that you are unloved
but that you love
and must decide which
to remember; tracks left
in the field, a language
of going away or coming back—
and to look up
from the single mind,
to let untangle
the far-off snow
until no longer
held as proof
is also where birds
strung along branches
each with their own song
for the other,
every note used
to sing anyway—
how to hold the already
as the not yet
What do I care, in the dreams and the languor of spring, That my songs do not show me at all? For they are a fragrance, and I am a flint and a fire, I am an answer, they are only a call. But what do I care, for love will be over so soon, Let my heart have its say and my mind stand idly by, For my mind is proud and strong enough to be silent, It is my heart that makes my songs, not I.
Maybe my arms lifted as a woman lowers a dress over my head.
This is not what I want to tell you.
Looking at red flowers on her mother’s dress as she sat on her lap on a train is Woolf’s first memory.
Then the sound of waves behind a yellow shade, of being alive as ecstasy.
Maybe her mind, as I read, lowering over my mind.
Maybe looking down, as I sit on the floor, at the book inside the diamond of my legs.
Even briefly, to love with someone else’s mind.
Moving my lips as I read the waves breaking, one, two, one, two, and sending a splash of water over the beach.
What I want to tell you is ecstasy.
My life has been the poem I would have writ
But I could not both live and utter it.