Images

I saw a mirror like the moon
Made splendid by a sunken sun
Framing the wrinkled face of kings
And haloed harlots one by one
And many a judge with livid lips,
And many a thief with thankful eyes,
Like his who climbed the torturing tree
And drank that night in Paradise;
And something like a floating word
Behind a curtain, overheard
By chance, from a strange chamber, found me
“The mirror is a woman’s eyes.”
(Speculum Justitiae, ora pro nobis.)

Rose up through one clear rent of sky
The midmost of a monstrous tower
Far up, far down, all earthly scale
Escaping in its pathless power
Such strength as only burst from sight
In some lost epic vast and wild
Where giants piling up their tower
Were pygmies by the thing they piled.
And the heart knew without a word
A strength below all strength had stirred
Lifting the load of all the world
A woman’s arms under a child.
(Turris Davidica, ora pro nobis.)

Broad was the house of burning gold
Like sunrise standing on the mountains
A million mirrored flames that glowed
On golden peacocks, golden fountains,
As tree by tree stood rayed with flame
Like seven-branched candlestick or fan
All glories in the Age of Gold
Glowed equal when the world began
But a voice speaking dreamily
Said in my ear, but not to me,
“One gold thread of a woman’s hair
Has blown across the eyes of man.”
(Domus Aurea, ora pro nobis.)

Deep in a silver wintry wood
In secret skies where sleepers rove
An ivory turret from the trees
Rose clearer than the sky it clove
Too wan for flame, too warm for snow,
Which gold most delicate would defile
And near but never nearer growing
Though one should labour mile on mile.
And with it — in the flash that brings
Sight of the world of little things,
A woman’s finger lifted up,
A finger lifted with a smile.
(Turris Eburnea, ora pro nobis.)

Down through the purple desolation
Of deserts under stars they strode
Who bore the dark and winged pavilion
Of their ungraven god for load;
Strange if the secret of the skies
Behind low crimson curtains hid,
Or if that vagrant booth defied
The huge hypnotic Pyramid.
Then in an image come and gone,
Green fields and one that stood thereon
Flashed like green lightning; and the thunder
“A woman was his walking home”
(Feoderis Arca, ora pro nobis.)

O breakers! Great iconoclasts!
When will your raking hammers find
What statues spring up with a word,
What icons have built up the mind,
Or learn by hacking if the Form
Be all a part or part a whole,
Or grind out of your gods made dust
What is the sign and what the soul
Or chase what images have hung
In the air where any song was sung,
Seeing if the sword can put asunder
All that was wedded with the tongue?
(Sedes Sapientiae, ora pro nobis.)

— (1926).

Published in: on April 10, 2013 at 8:08 am  Leave a Comment  

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