But love, when all things beat it down, leaves the wide air,
The heavens are gray, and men turn wolves, lean with despair.
Ah, when we need love most, and weep, when all is dark,
Love is a pinch of ashes gray, with one live spark --
Yet on the hope to keep alive that treasure strange
Hangs all earth's struggle, strife and scorn, and desperate change.
Love? . . . we will scarcely love our babes full many a time --
Knowing their souls and ours too well, and all our grime --
And there beside our holy hearth we'll hide our eyes --
Lest we should flash what seems disdain without disguise.
Yet there shall be no wavering there in that deep trial --
And no false fire or stranger hand or traitor vile --
We'll fight the gloom and fight the world with strong sword-play,
Entrenched within our block-house small, ever at bay --
As fellow-warriors, underpaid, wounded and wild,
True to their battered flag, their faith still undefiled!
Darling Daughter of Babylon
Too soon you wearied of our tears.
And then you danced with spangled feet,
Leading Belshazzar's chattering court
A-tinkling through the shadowy street.
With mead they came, with chants of shame.
DESIRE'S red flag before them flew.
And Istar's music moved your mouth
And Baal's deep shames rewoke in you.
Now you could drive the royal car;
Forget our Nation's breaking load:
Now you could sleep on silver beds --
(Bitter and dark was our abode.)
And so, for many a night you laughed,
And knew not of my hopeless prayer,
Till God's own spirit whipped you forth
From Istar's shrine, from Istar's stair.
Darling daughter of Babylon --
Rose by the black Euphrates flood --
Again your beauty grew more dear
Than my slave's bread, than my heart's blood.
We sang of Zion, good to know,
Where righteousness and peace abide. . . .
What of your second sacrilege
Carousing at Belshazzar's side?
Once, by a stream, we clasped tired hands --
Your paint and henna washed away.
Your place, you said, was with the slaves
Who sewed the thick cloth, night and day.
You were a pale and holy maid
Toil-bound with us. One night you said: --
"Your God shall be my God until
I slumber with the patriarch dead."
Pardon, daughter of Babylon,
If, on this night remembering
Our lover walks under the walls
Of hanging gardens in the spring,
A venom comes from broken hope,
From memories of your comrade-song
Until I curse your painted eyes
And do your flower-mouth too much wrong.
Ah, in the night, all music haunts me here. . . .
Is it for naught high Heaven cracks and yawns
And the tremendous Amaranth descends
Sweet with the glory of ten thousand dawns?
Does it not mean my God would have me say: --
"Whether you will or no, O city young,
Heaven will bloom like one great flower for you,Download<<BackPagesMainNext>>