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BOOK I

THE PHOENIX-FEASTERS




To EDITH


THE PHOENIX-FEASTERS


PART I



PRELUDE



We have wandered through the dim valleys of sleep

—That lie so still and far—

Have bathed in the lakes of silence,

Where each star

Shines brighter than its own reflection in the heavens;

Where, diving deep,

My soul has sought to catch and keep

The silver feathers of the moon

That float like down upon the waters,

In whose pale rest

We find

Forgetfulness of death

That comes so soon

—Waters that lull the mind

With some sweet breath

Of wind, of flowers,

With summer showers of rain,

Or quicken it with recreative pain.


We have fled further from this leaden cage,

Seeking those rainbow forests,

Where the light

Thrills through you, shaking, fainting, with delight;

Where sway tall luminous trees

Wind-swept in one vast flashing harmony,

That like a wave

Splashes its seething sound

And then envelops you.


We have strayed to other places,

Courts of fear,

That stretch like echoes through the endless dusk

Drenched with dead memories;

Like musk

They cling about you

In a heavy cloud.

Each shadow-sound we hear

Clutches the heart.

With fevered hands we tear

The terror-pulsing walls

—Fight our way out

—Out

Into other Courts

As vague and full of fear.

And we have found the proud and distant palaces of night.

THE SILENCE OF GOD



One night upon the southern sea

In helpless calm we lay,

Waiting for day,

            Waiting for day.


As goldripe fruit fall from a tree

A comet fell; no other sight,

But in the ocean tracks of light

Trembled—then passed away,

            Away.


No sound broke on our waiting ears,

Though instinct whispered wayward fears

Of things we cannot tell—

            Of things the sea could tell.


No wisp of wind, no watery sound

Reached us; as if high on the ground

We stayed. A sense of fever fell

Upon each mind,

            Each soul and mind.


Until our eyes, that ever sought

The cloying empty darkness, find

Another shape—or is it wrought

Of terror?—on the deep

            The endless deep.


All dark it lay. No light shone out;

And though we cried across, no shout

Came back to us. As if in sleep

The black bulk lay so still,

            So still.


No sign came back; no answering cry

Cleft the immense monotony

That swathed us like a funeral pall,

In folds of menace; almost shrill

The silence seemed,

            And we so small.


Swiftly a boat was lowered down;

The rowlocks creaked; our track shone white

Behind us like God's frown,

            God's frown.


We clambered up that great ship's height;

There was no light; there was no sound;

Nor was there any being found

Upon that ship,

            That ship.


We groped our way along. God knows

How long the rats had been alone

With dust and rust! Yet flight was shown

To have been instant, in the grip

Of some force stronger than its foes

            —Its human foes.


* * * * *


Then sudden from the dark there thrilled

The distant dying of a song

That hung like haze upon the sea, and filled

Each soul with joy and terror strong,

            With joy and terror strong.


Upon the sombre air were spent

These notes, as from a hidden place

Where all time and all love lay pent

In lingering embrace—

            In lingering embrace.


Deep in our hearts we felt the call;

We knew that if our fate should send

That song again, we must leave all

And follow to the end,

            The end.

ADVENTURE



Down through the torrid seas we swept,

Sails curved like bows about to shoot.

As an arrow speeds through the air

Our ship parted the clinging waters.


Then, out of the ocean

Blossomed a distant land.


* * * * *


The air quivered,

Dancing above it

In a frenzy of passion.

Waves of heat trembled towards us

Across the cool lassitude of the ocean.

They rolled new odours at us,

Sounding the chords of hidden senses,

Till we were alert

With minds as sensitive and taut

As resined strings.

The sea itself

Crouched down behind us,

Urging us on,

Driving us on,

To unknown

Perilous adventures.


* * * * *


Ships and sea were forgotten.

We trampled

And stumbled

On, on,

Through the burning sand

To the hot shroud of the squat threatening forest,

Where, as you walked,

You tore apart

A solid sheet of air.


Brown satyrs grimaced at us,

Swinging with long hairy arms

From crooked branch to crooked branch.

The sun

Was at its height.

Rays pierced the hot shade;

White lines of light

Shot through the shadows

To where a point of green

Shuddered with dangerous movement,

Throbbed and hummed with the whirr of insects.

Birds more bright than any streamers from the sun

Cleft the air

Like hammers;

Scintillating wings

Tossed patches of colour

Into the dark shimmering air.

Shrill calls

Whistled like knives

Hurled through the empty heat.


Frantic chattering rose up.

Through the honeycombed darkness

Slim animals

—Their hides splashed with false sunlight—

Quivered away

Into the hollow distance.

Or clattered past us,

Cloven hooves

Kicking at the hard, bent trunks

Of gnarled trees.

Large hairy fruits of wood

Were cast at us,

Snarlingly,

From the darkness.

Faces

—Faces peered down

From the interwoven boughs.


Hastily we stumbled on;

Hurriedly we stumbled back,

Bewildered.

Small tracks

Tripped through the blackness

Hither and thither;

Twigs crawled from under our feet,

Hissing away

In venom

—And we were bewildered.


Then suddenly

We felt,

Rumbling in curling patterns through the ground,

The beating of drums.

As winds bellow into caves,

As waves swirl and curl into hollows,

We heard the blowing of wooden trumpets

And of pipes.


Soon,

Under the western canopy of the sun,

Where the fevered hills lay huddled together,

We saw great gourd-shaped palaces

Loom up like mountains.

Figures played on trumpets,

Twisted like snakes,

Or on the curved, carved horns of unknown beasts.

In the sound was mirrored

The panic seizures of the night,

—The fear of things that walk in darkness.

The drums were painted

In hot colours

That, even through the dusk,

Glowed torture and writhing torment.

Like a shower of molten lead

The din fell down upon us

From the Palaces.


Bare yellow women

Hurried

To greet us;

Their heels swayed inward

As they walked.

They offered fruits

—Fruits that were strange to us;

Mellow they were, and with a scent

Of sun, of summer,

And of woodland nights.

We ate

—And dreams closed round.

GÉNERO
Arte y espectáculo
PUBLICADO
2020
12 febrero
IDIOMA
EN
Inglés
EXTENSIÓN
92
Páginas
EDITORIAL
Rectory Print
TAMAÑO
4.1
Mb

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