William Vaughn Moody
The Golden Journey - Poem by William Vaughn Moody
All day he drowses by the sail
With dreams of her, and all night long
The broken waters are at song
Of how she lingers, wild and pale,
When all the temple lights are dumb,
And weaves her spells to make him come.
The wide sea traversed, he will stand
With straining eyes, until the shoal
Green water from the prow shall roll
Upon the yellow strip of sand -
Searching some fern-hid tangled way
Into the forest old and grey.
Then he will leap upon the shore,
And cast one look up at the sun,
Over his loosened locks will run
The dawn breeze, and a bird will pour
Its rapture out to make life seem
Too sweet to leave for such a dream.
But all the swifter will he go
Through the pale, scattered asphodels,
Down mote-hung dusk of olive dells,
To where the ancient basins throw
Fleet threads of blue and trembling zones
Of gold upon the temple stones.
There noon keeps just a twilight trace;
Twixt love and hate, and death and birth,
No man may choose; nor sobs nor mirth
May enter in that haunted place.
All day the fountain sphynx lets drip
Slow drops of silence from her lip.
To hold the porch-roof slender girls
Of milk-white marble stand arow;
Doubt never blurs a single brow,
And never the noon's faintness curls
From their expectant hush of pride
The lips the god has glorified.
But these things he will barely view,
Or if he stay to heed them, still
But as the lark the lights that spill
From out the sun it soars unto,
Where, past the splendors and the heats,
The sun's heart's self forever beats.
For wide the brazen doors will swing
Soon as his sandals touch the pave;
The anxious light inside will wave
And tremble to a lunar ring
About the form that lieth prone
Before the dreadful altar-stone.
She will not look or speak or stir,
But with drowned lips and cheeks death-white
Will lie amid the pool of light,
Until, grown faint with thirst of her,
He shall bow down his face and sink
Breathless beneath the eddying brink.
Then a swift music will begin,
And as the brazen doors shut slow,
There will be hurrying to and fro,
And lights and calls and silver din,
While through the star-freaked swirl of air
The god's sweet cruel eyes will stare.
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