Pygmalion

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I

Now woman, if you have it in you to live,
This is your living body’s prerogative.
You could not by yourself deliberate
What only my impatience could create,
And I can do no more. This guess of mine,
All my invention, my superb design,
My courage, my challenge, my security—
I built you out of nothing: now build for me.
With your divine intelligence possess
My work; I did not spend myself for less.
I want your suffering: the intense and bare
Strain of your will. I want to see you dare
This difficult thing, to walk with agony on
The knives of my imagination, one
I scarcely know—when even in your hands’
Least moving something perfectly understands
All I created you to feel and be.
So I receive you, so you come to me.
And as to this complete accord we move
The imbecility of commencing love
Repulsed, and the grey nauseas of fear
The body of my redeemer enters here.
And in myself this man I have willed to know
Wakes at long last. Although I planned it so
I did not know I had so much to bring,
So much I could not give and dared not lend,
Into these hands my spirit I commend …
O take it, for it is a precious thing.

II

They have dared the improbable dream, they have made it theirs;
The nightmare house of shadows and wavering airs
Enlarged and curtained, stuffed the window tight
With a blank shutter of its outward night;
Proportioned so the vast and stately bed
Blessed with the pillar of darkness at the head;
Tied the four posts with unseen dying flowers.
—Over its tall, black cliff the music pours
Nightlong and plunges smoothly to the deep—
And touching with their naked breasts asleep
They lie and have forgotten what joy it is
That first impulsive charity of a kiss
—Deep flows the stream: they do not hear it pass.
They do not know if near them stirs what was
The once beloved gesture, familiar pain.
They cannot wake back to those selves again;
By any intellectual vision learn
What precious thing frets in the weeping urn
Of their content. And though the landscape still
Guards the assenting accent of their hill
They will not look to see if it be there
Arrested yet against voluptuous air.
They have walked on, away, and out of mind
Over the world’s end—what they ached to find
Abandoned—the hollow mountain ate them up.
No use to shout far down the spiral cup
Of the void ear; these bodies have taken over.
Look here for love—you will not find the lover …
Only a moment, it may be, they toss,
Smile, and so touch the treasure of their loss.

III

So I perceive this last astonishment
In you: that even the indifferent
And things outlived and lost and left behind
Do not remain unchanged within the mind,
But have their own life still, and that you grow
Daily in me, whether I will or no.
Now even at night and lying long awake
Descending step by step the stairs that take
Me down the dark—the grey enormous stair—
I cannot summon you as once you were:
You come with a new movement; the surprise
Of unaccustomed hands, reluctant eyes,
Menstrual, remote.
Unsummoned, you are still
There: a cancer ripening in the will,
Pushing its intricate trespass furtively
In the soft belly fibre. Now I see
The horror of Love, the sprouting cannibal plant
That it becomes—O God! What do you want?
What do you want? Do you know where you are?
This is my room, my mind. Get out of here!
Take your damned clothes, your two-sex thoughts, your laugh!
Back to the simper on the photograph
That was your smile, and is your smile no more.
I have gone into my silence, closed a door
Upon the comfort of its emptiness.
Why do you trouble it then? And should you guess
The magic syllables, I have made it bare.
What do you hope? Even though I am there,
Do you expect your body again with me
To utter in its guttural majesty
The accent of life? … or would you dare to build
A garden suburb of kindness where we piled
Our terrible sexual landscape, heap on heap
Of raging mountains? No more! I know too well
My need of loss, how easily we keep
The vision that once could make the heart rebel
Changed to a song that gives the children sleep.

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