The perfume of your body dulls my sense.
I want nor wine nor weed; your breath alone
Suffices. In this moment rare and tense
I worship at your breast. The flower is blown,
The saffron petals tempt my amorous mouth,
The yellow heart is radiant now with dew
Soft-scented, redolent of my loved South;
O flower of love! I give myself to you.
Uncovered on your couch of figured green,
Here let us linger indivisible.
The portals of your sanctuary unseen
Receive my offering, yielding unto me.
Oh, with our love the night is warm and deep!
The air is sweet, my flower, and sweet the flute
Whose music lulls our burning brain to sleep,
While we lie loving, passionate and mute.
Your words dropped into my heart like pebbles into a pool,
Rippling around my breast and leaving it melting cool.
Your kisses fell sharp on my flesh like dawn-dews from the limb,
Of a fruit-filled lemon tree when the day is young and dim.
Like soft rain-christened sunshine, as fragile as rare gold lace,
Your breath, sweet-scented and warm, has kindled my tranquil face.
But a silence vasty-deep, oh deeper than all these ties
Now, through the menacing miles, brooding between us lies.
And more than the songs I sing, I await your written word,
To stir my fluent blood as never your presence stirred.
Your voice is the color of a robin’s breast,
And there’s a sweet sob in it like rain—still rain in the night.
Among the leaves of the trumpet-tree, close to his nest,
The pea-dove sings, and each note thrills me with strange delight
Like the words, wet with music, that well from your trembling throat.
I’m afraid of your eyes, they’re so bold,
Searching me through, reading my thoughts, shining like gold.
But sometimes they are gentle and soft like the dew on the lips of the eucharis
Before the sun comes warm with his lover’s kiss.
You are sea-foam, pure with the star’s love-liness,
Not mortal, a flower, a fairy, too fair for the beauty-shorn earth.
All wonderful things, all beautiful things, gave of their wealth to your birth.
Oh I love you so much, not recking of passion, that I feel it is wrong!
But men will love you, flower, fairy, non-mortal spirit burdened with flesh,
Some day, when trees have shed their leaves
And against the morning’s white
The shivering birds beneath the eaves
Have sheltered for the night,
We’ll turn our faces southward, love,
Toward the summer isle
Where bamboos spire to shafted grove
And wide-mouthed orchids smile.
And we will seek the quiet hill
Where towers the cotton tree,
And leaps the laughing crystal rill,
And works the droning bee.
And we will build a cottage there
Beside an open glade,
With black-ribbed blue-bells blowing near,
And ferns that never fade.
Your body was a sacred cell always,
A jewel that grew dull in garish light,
An opal which beneath my wondering gaze
Gleamed rarely, softly throbbing in the night.
I touched your flesh with reverential hands,
you were sweet and timid like a flower
That blossoms out of barren tropic sands,
Shedding its perfume in one golden hour.
You yielded to my touch with gentle grace,
And though my passion was a mighty wave
That buried you beneath its strong embrace,
You were yet happy in the moment’s grave.
Still more than passion consummate to me,
More than the nuptials immemorial sung,
Was the warm thrill that melted me to see
Your clean brown body, beautiful and young;
The joy in your maturity at length,
The peace that filled my soul like cooling wine,
When you responded to my tender strength,
And pressed your heart exulting into mine.
How shall I with such memories of you
In coarser forms of love fruition find?
No, I would rather like a ghost pursue
The fairy phantoms of my lonely mind.
Throughout the afternoon I watched them there,
Snow-fairies falling, falling from the sky,
Whirling fantastic in the misty air,
Contending fierce for space supremacy.
And they flew down a mightier force at night,
As though in heaven there was revolt and riot,
And they, frail things had taken panic flight
Down to the calm earth seeking peace and quiet.
I went to bed and rose at early dawn
To see them huddled together in a heap,
Each merged into the other upon the lawn,
Worn out by the sharp struggle, fast asleep.
The sun shone brightly on them half the day,
By night they stealthily had stol’n away.
And suddenly my thoughts then turned to you
Who came to me upon a winter’s night,
When snow-sprites round my attic window flew,
Your hair disheveled, eyes aglow with light.
My heart was like the weather when you came,
The wanton winds were blowing loud and long;
But you, with joy and passion all aflame,
You danced and sang a lilting summer song.
I made room for you in my little bed,
Took covers from the closet fresh and warm,
A downful pillow for your scented head,
And lay down with you resting in my arm.
You went with Dawn. You left me ere the day,
The lonely actor of a dreamy play.
All yesterday it poured, and all night long
I could not sleep; the rain unceasing beat
Upon the shingled roof like a weird song,
Upon the grass like running children’s feet.
And down the mountains by the dark cloud kissed,
Like a strange shape in filmy veiling dressed,
Slid slowly, silently, the wraith-like mist,
And nestled soft against the earth’s wet breast.
But lo, there was a miracle at dawn!
The still air stirred at touch of the faint breeze,
The sun a sheet of gold bequeathed the lawn,
The songsters twittered in the rustling trees.
And all things were transfigured in the day,
But me whom radiant beauty could not move;
For you, more wonderful, were far away,
And I was blind with hunger for your love.
Nay, why reproach each other, be unkind,
For there’s no plane on which we two may meet?
Let’s both forgive, forget, for both were blind,
And life is of a day, and time is fleet.
And I am fire, swift to flame and burn,
Melting with elements high overhead,
While you are water in an earthly urn,
All pure, but heavy, and of hue like lead.
To clasp you now and feel your head close-
Scented and warm against my beating breast;
To whisper soft and quivering your name,
And drink the passion burning in your frame;
To lie at full length, taut, with cheek to cheek,
And tease your mouth with kisses till you speak
Love words, mad words, dream words, sweet
Melodious like notes of mating birds;
To hear you ask if I shall love always,
And myself answer: Till the end of days;
To feel your easeful sigh of happiness
When on your trembling lips I murmur: Yes;
It is so sweet. We know it is not true.
What matters it? The night must shed her dew.
We know it is not true, but it is sweet—
The poem with this music is complete.