“And so, as on a flowery stream
One floateth in a summer dream,
Upon this flow of lives, swept round
By merry maids and children gay,
’Mid soft delights of scent and sound,
I floated and was borne away—
From shade to sun, from sun to shade,
Laughing they led me thro’ the land,
And still that dimpled dainty Maid
Nestled quite close, and unafraid
Smiled in my face and kiss’d my hand.
And laughing too, while on me fell
The golden glamour and the spell,
I wander’d on at their sweet will!— 87
O had I power to paint the scene,
Not scribbling with this blood-stain’d quill,
But with a brush of sweep serene!—
I, the sad Man with dark locks shed
Round features worn and marble pale,
My lithe form strangely garmented
In raiment wrought to brave the gale;
Rings on my waxen hands; around
My throat a bright scarf lightly wound;
On broad brows beaten by the sea
A sailor’s hat worn jauntily!
The centre of the picture, this;
Around, dark Darlings of the Isle,
Warm bosoms panting full of bliss,
Waists to embrace and lips to kiss,
And best, that Maiden’s sunny smile!
Thus was I tangled in the mesh
Of those bright moving living bowers!
The sun shone free, the wind blew fresh,
And Eden smiled, all fruit, all flowers!
Far off, beyond the emerald land
Sloping to shores of yellow sand,
Beyond the stately coca trees
Stirring their fans in the soft breeze,
Past the red coral reef whereon
The turquoise Sea broke milky white,
Far as my dazzled eyes could con
Ocean and Heaven mingling shone,— 88
Veil beyond veil of golden light!
“And now we come to swarms of huts
Dusky and brown as coca-nuts,
Beneath a crag that skyward towers
Festoon’d from crown to base with flowers:
Some high, like great brown birds’-nests, clinging
High up and with the tree-boughs swinging,
Some fallen like husks of fruit and lying
Wide open on the grassy sward;
And hither and thither, multiplying
Like happy bees in sunlight flying,
Fresh flocks of happy creatures pour’d,
Until the place was all alive
With forms that swarm’d from hive to hive,
Buzzing and murmuring every one
In that soft lingo of the Sun!
“Close to the flowery crag there clung
A brown thatch’d roof with wild flowers hung,
Supported on four sapling trees
That pour’d sweet scents on the warm breeze,
And underneath it, loosely wall’d
With boughs as green as emerald,
There lay a wide and open bower,
A mossy nest of fruit and flower,
With soft green hammocks swinging high
To the wind’s summer lullaby. 89
Grass was the floor, but o’er it spread,
Crumbling warm spice beneath the tread,
Were woven carpets green and soft
As the fresh blooms that swung aloft.
Thither my captor, that sweet Maid
Who held me in her sweet control,
Led me, and, seated in the shade,
My throne an old tree’s mossy bole,
I watch’d the throng who round me went
In welcome and in merriment.
“Possession’s nine points of the law,
Even yonder in the southern seas!
And murmuring softly ‘Alohà!’
(Which means ‘I love you,’ if you please!)
That Maid who was the first to capture
My idle eyes with her strange beauty
Gazed on my face in tender rapture
And kiss’d my hand in sign of duty.
Then, when some others, gladsome girls
With sunny cheeks and teeth like pearls,
Came thronging all around to view
My face and give me welcome too,
She waved them back with flashing eyes
And seem’d to say (if looks could do it)
‘This man is mine! I claim the prize,
And if you touch him, you shall rue it!’
Smiling and laughing merrily, 90
I just look’d on, content to be
Appropriated for the present
By one so young and plump and pleasant;
And nodding, by my side I placed her,
Patted her brown back and embraced her,—
Whereon the happy native bands,
Incapable of jealous spite,
Laugh’d their approval, clapt their hands,
And shared the little Maid’s delight.
“Then, at a signal from the Maid,
They brought me poi, a native dish
Of island grains and juices made,
And stickier than one might wish—
Her two forefingers lightly dipping
Therein, she twirled them round about,
Then drew a glutinous, slimy, dripping
Mouthful, like macaroni, out;
Next, quickly raised her finger-tips
Thus coated to her rosy lips,
Sucking them like a bonbon, while
I watch’d her with a wondering smile.
Ev’n thus she show’d me full of joy
The native mysteries of poi—
And presently, I made essay
To eat it in the native way,
And found the flavour of the stuff
(Altho’ the modus operandi 91
Was strange and primitive enough),
Was much like rice and sugar-candy.
And next they brought in goblets green
Of coca-shell a pleasant tipple
As clear as mead or Hippocrene
Or milk that flows from Venus’ nipple;
And quaffing this right joyously
I felt my heart within throb quicker,
For, like most sailors of the sea,
I on occasion love good liquor!
And thus they fêted me and fed me,
And when at last I paused contented,
To a green couch the Maiden led me,
And down I sank on leaves sweet-scented;—
When nimble virgins, at her sign,
Kneaded me, limbs and loins and thighs,
Till rack’d and rent I sank supine
With aching frame and sleepy eyes,—
And sank to charmèd sleep! (They name
This swift shampooing of the frame
The lomi-lomi.) When at last
I woke, all sense seem’d sublimated,
Bathed in a comfort deep and vast
I lay like Adam new-created—
Ambrosial peace and perfect rest
Stole through my veins and warm’d me through,
Serenely strong, completely blest,
I gladden’d at each breath I drew; 92
And all the world and its annoy
Turn’d to an odorous rose of joy,
Taking both soul and sense in capture
With soft celestial folds of rapture!
“Meantime her kinsfolk, blithe and gay
As motes that in the sunbeam play,
Simple as babies biting coral,
Without one instinct known as moral,
Eager to welcome and caress
Whatever stranger they beheld,
Full of the sunny happiness
That from their dusky hearts up-well’d,
Came smiling round the flowery nest
Wherein I lay in blissful rest.
Then one, an Elder of the place,
A glad old boy with wrinkled face,
Laugh’d and clapt hands, and at the sign
All squatted down or lay supine,
And from the shade of these dark bowers
Outpour’d, with wondrous twists and twirls,
Most lightly raimented in flowers
A band of lissome Dancing Girls—
These [while the rest began to croon
A drowsy droning native tune,]
With gestures loose and looser raiment,
With postures never for broad day meant,
With panting mouths and shining eyes, 93
With heaving breasts and quivering thighs,
Began a measure which to see
Would shock our modern modesty!
A measure?—nay, a dance that knew
No measure Thought could time it to—
A leaping, eddying, unabating
Revel of flesh and blood pulsating—
Now soft and sweet as fountains falling,
Now mad and wild as billows bounding,
Now murmurous as wood-doves calling,
Now corybantic and appalling,
And changeful as it was astounding!”
Reflections on the margin, made
In Rome, at a quite recent time,
Follow, and tho’ I’m half afraid
To quote them, here they are, in rhyme:
. . . “Aye me, what witchery may be wrought
By soft round arms and looks of passion!
What magic flooding sense and thought
By limbs in beauteous undulation!
Love rules the world, and Love shall rule it,
Tho’ rogues corrupt and sages fool it!
Love moves the chessmen, Kings and Knights,
And stirs the merest pawns as well,
Hence change of empires, bloodiest fights,
And all the game of Heaven and Hell. 94
Herodias dances, and demands
The Baptist’s head as instant payment!
Phryne just stirs her little hands,
Lifting the edge of her light raiment,
Glimpse of trim ankles to discover,
And lo! a Dynasty is over!
Were I the Devil, I’d rather deal
With incantation such as this is,
Than have great senates at my heel!
Show me whole legions clad in steel—
I’ll rout them easily—with kisses!
Kings for such guerdon will pay down
Gladly the sceptre and the crown!
Bishops their mitres and their crosiers
For soft limbs beautified by hosiers!
God gets no hearing anywhere
While Womankind is fond and fair,
And so the world is at the mercy
Of the supreme enchantress, Circe!
“Hartmann, whose page explains to us
The creed of the Unconscious,
By the Unconscious means the Power
Which fills Life’s Tree from root to flower.
Pulsating out of yonder sunlight,
Flowing in flame from form to form,
Is the eternal Light, the one Light
For ever wanton, wild, and warm,— 95
Shedding magnetic rays of splendour,
In ecstasies of new creation,
Forcing all creatures to surrender
To Love’s amphibious invitation!
Amœbæ in the ooze, and fishes,
Beasts in the fields, birds in the air,
Sweep whither the Unconscious wishes,
And recreate forms foul or fair—
All sing Natura Cumulans,—
Nature, the Matronhood immortal—
In vain le bon Dieu sits and plans
Yonder beyond the heavenly portal,
Crying like Canute, to the Ocean
Of loose primordial mad emotion,
‘Thus far, no further’—while its waves,
Beating the shore of human graves,
Surging and rising, ever growing,
Submerging earth from zone to zone,
Drown Man’s frail Soul, and overflowing
Flood the bright Footstool of the Throne!”
Wide-eyed in wonder and delight
The Wanderer drank in the sight—
A Bacchic rite in emulation
Of the first orgies of Creation!
And when the dancers sank o’erpower’d
With their own rapture, blossoms shower’d
Upon them, and with flashing faces 96
They clung in beautiful embraces.
Then when the cup of joy was full
Up to the brim and running over,
Out of the darkness green and cool
A girl coo’d clearly to her lover!—
One bird-like note, one plaintive call,
Passionate yet celestial,
Thrill’d through the silence! then there came
Out of the darkness, robed in white,
With arms outstretch’d and eyes aflame,
Alive with Love and Love’s delight,
That Flower of Maidens,—fair she stood
Full in the sunset’s crimson flood,
And gazing on the heavens above
Warbled her wondrous song of Love!
And fascinated, thrilling through
With bliss at every breath he drew,
The Outcast listen’d, while the throng
Were hushed to hear that Orphic song!
But as he leapt to her embrace
She laugh’d and vanish’d from his glance,
And once again the leafy place
Was loud with life and song and dance—
Again, while loud the music rung,
The choir of dancing girls upsprung,
And mingling in the measure wrought
Their fine gyrations passion-fraught!
But now the dance was less capricious, 97
The undulations more subdued,—
Subsiding into throbs delicious,
Faint rapture stealing through their blood,
The maidens moved like one bright billow
Now heavenward, now upon the ground,
All swaying on an airy pillow
And swooning with soft zones unbound,
And spicy odours, burning beams,
Blew round them as they rock’d in dreams,
While on their happy cheeks and eyes
Rain’d diamond dews from Paradise!
A pause—a thrill—which seem’d to be
A long sweet dream of ecstasy—
Then suddenly, before he knew,
All vanish’d from his wondering view—
Of all the throng not one was there,
Men, women, maidens, turn’d to air,
And lonely on his couch he lay
Lit by the sunset’s fading ray—
But as he sigh’d and lookt around,
He heard again that bird-like cadence
And turning saw, with lilies crown’d,
That tender miracle of maidens—
Her eyes on his—one soft hand prest
To still the billowing of her breast—
Her cheeks all smiles, her eyes all bliss,
Sending new thrills of rapture through him, 98
Her mouth bent down for him to kiss,
Her soul a votive offering to him!
Then Twilight spread its purple fold
Dew-spangled o’er the blue sky’s bosom,
And ripe and large as fruit of gold
Great sun-fed stars began to blossom,—
Such stars as never kindle save
Out yonder o’er the tropic wave,
Each like a little moon, and making
In the smooth Ocean trails of light,
While others, from the darkness breaking
Like bursting fruit, shot seaward shaking
Prismatic splendours through the night.
As each new splendour flashed afar
And melted in the quiet Main,
It seem’d as if some shining star
Had burst within the Wanderer’s brain!
And spicy scents of that green Land
On the warm wind were wafted thither,
As holding that dark Maiden’s hand,
Silent he sat, uplooking with her.
Then sighing heavily, he turn’d
His dark eyes shoreward, and discern’d
The spume upon the reef that fell
Like white milk from the coca-shell,
The waters round of lustre green
Alive with rays of starry sheen, 99
And far off, on the water’s bound,
The Moon uprising large and round,
Clear lemon-yellow, without rays,
Out of the pathless ocean-ways!
HE turned his eyes on that sweet Maid,
Who smiling in his face essay’d
Quick eager speech of rippling words
More musical than any singer’s,—
He guess’d the meaning of the words
By the warm pressure of the fingers!
Child-like she stood, with eyes of light
Full of the happy tropic night,
A white straw hat upon her head
With ferns and flowers bright garlanded,
Her dress one cool chemise of snow
Wherein her soft form slipt at ease,
Sleeveless, around the breasts cut low,
And fluttering to the supple knees;
Her limbs and arms all bare and warm,
Her bosom gently palpitating,—
Her face alive with Love, her form
Thrill’d through with fires of Love’s creating!
Over that night now falls the veil!
Earth held her breath. The stars grew pale
Down-gazing. Heavenly balms were strewn
On those two forms who ’neath the Moon
Took Love’s divine first kiss. The Night
Linger’d above them in delight,
Till softly and serenely blest, 101
Still as two love-birds in a nest,
They slept! . . .
O Alohà! (which means
‘I love you,’ mind) delightful Maiden!
Still in the daintiest of your teens,
Yet woman-soul’d and passion laden!
Through you, alas! I make this canto
More warmly-colour’d than I want to!
For I profess—let all men know it—
To be a Psychologic Poet!
Not that with solemn cogitations
I mean to tire the reader’s patience,
Hair-splitting and refining ether
Like some bards (and no small ones neither)
Who show with philosophic hiccup
The metaphysics in a teacup,
And plummets deep as Death apply
To gauge the depths of apple-pie!
But aiming at the adumbration
Of Nature’s chaos of sensation,
The more I of these Mysteries speak
The more I pause with blushing cheek!
Many will misconceive me; some
Will just be thunderstruck and dumb
That I should dream of spiritualising
A subject which—there’s no disguising—
Is delicate extremely. Then
I dread the Critics, those small men 102
With those big voices! . . .
The days of passionate song are o’er,
And now no Poet wins the laurel
Who is not absolutely moral.
We’ve had our fill of impropriety,
Since Byron rose to shock Society,
And of all moods by bards affected
Anacreon’s has been least neglected.
The favourite Muses, Greek or British,
Have ever been extremely skittish,
And modern bards have drunk too wildly
The warm Greek wine which Goethe mildly
Sipt at while sketching with soft shade his
Loose-laced, lax-moral’d German ladies;
Gretchen, Philina, all the crew,
Fleshly yet sentimental too,
Sad sensuous things of scant decorum,
Lost like the Magdalen before ’em,
Save Mignon, who, as story teaches,
Lack’d fat and so became the breeches.
Then we’ve had Byron, that lame Cupid
Of odalisques sublimely stupid,
Not to name here Chateaubriand,
Alfred de Musset, and George Sand,
All watering with artistic squirt
The flower of passion grown in dirt,
Till Gautier made the Immortals flutter 103
By rolling Venus in the gutter!
But patience! this strange tale I tell,
Is high as Heaven, though deep as Hell,
And in the end shall please the mind
That’s to analysis inclined;
Shall show you, ere the last sad line,
The great Eternal Feminine
(Das Ewigweibliche, to wit,
As amorous Wolfgang christen’d it),
And vindicate its flights immodest
Through scenes where Venus lies unbodiced,
By flying on with fearless pinions
To the clear air of God’s dominions.
That night, within their bower of bloom
Flooded with moonlight and perfume,
The Captain and his new-found treasure
Drank deep of Love’s o’erflowing measure,
Then down the Unconscious sinking deep
Floated on shimmering seas of Sleep.
Wonder and hush miraculous!
When, weary of her load of care,
This Earth, whose fond arms shelter us,
Feels softly on her brows and hair
The cool dark dews of twilight fall
Mysterious and celestial!
Lo! while her golden robe of day 104
Slips film by film and falls away,
Naked and warm she stands a space,
The sun-flush fading from her face;
Then, with bow’d head and soft hands prest
Upon her bare and billowing breast,
Takes, while the chill Moon steals in sight,
The cold ablution of the Night!
And then, as by the pools of rest
She lieth down subdued and blest,
As on her closèd eyes are shed
Dim influence from the heavens o’erhead,
We nestling in her bosom close
Our feverish eyelids and repose—
Our spirits husht, our voices dumb,
Our little lives a little still’d,
We sleep!—and round us softly come
Souls from whose fountains ours are fill’d!
Spirits as soft as moonbeams flit
Around our rest, not breaking it,
Brushing across our lips and eyes
Wings wet with dews of Paradise!
While at God’s mercy and at theirs
We lie, they bless us unawares,—
Watch the Soul’s pool that lies within
The branches dark of Flesh and Sin,
And stir it as with Aaron’s rod
To gleams of Heaven and dreams of God!
Lifting the filmy tent of Sleep 105
With gentle fingers, on us peep
Those errant angels, soft and tender
With some strange starlight’s dusky splendour;
With balm from Heaven they bedew us,
Bring flowers from Heaven and hold them to us,
Flash on our eyes the diamonds shaken
To fairy rainbows as we waken,
And jubilantly ere departing
Ring those wild echoes in our ears,
Which, flusht and from our pillows starting,
We hearken for with childish tears!
If Dreams were not, if we could fall
To slumber and not dream at all,—
If when the eyes were closed, the sense
Close shut, all seeing vanish’d thence,
Why, ’twere not difficult to fancy
This life no freak of necromancy,—
And Man a clock, contrived to go
(Bar breakage) seventy years or so,
Yet running down and pausing nightly,
Pendulum fluttering with no pain,
Till, as the daydawn glimmers brightly,
A Finger quickens it again!
But Dreams, though sages think them silly,
Attest us Spirits willy-nilly,
And prove that, when the Unconscious glides
Around us with its numbing tides, 106
Shapes past conceiving or control
Stir the dark cisterns of the Soul!
All day God veils Himself in Light,
But down the starry stairs each night
He steals with solemn soundless tread
And finds us—fast asleep, not dead!
Ah, then begins the conjuration,
The Mystery, the Incantation!
The Feet Divine with soft insistence
Plash through the Waters of Existence,
Send strange electric thrills each minute
Down to the very ooze within it,
While, startled by the shining Presence,
All Nature breaks to phosphorescence! . . .
Now came the golden tropic Morning!
Not like our dawns of chilly gloom:
One glow, one crimson flash of warning,
Then one great flood of blinding bloom—
The world awoke and leapt—the Sea
Flasht like a mirror radiantly—
The leaves and flowers were all alive—
A miracle of Light was done—
And glad as bees from out the hive
The people flock’d into the sun!
Happy, contented, and serene,