Now the year walks among the signs of heaven,
Swinging her large hips, smiling in all her motions,
Crosses with dancing steps the Milky Valley.
Round her the primal energies rejoice;
All the twelve metaphysical creatures and the seven
Swift spheres adore her vigour; the five oceans
Look up and hear her voice
Ring through the ebony vault, where Ara Celi
Flames, and the choiring stars at their devotions
With pure and jubilant noise
Praise and proclaim four seasons in her belly.
Four glittering worms, they sleep curled up inside her,
The unborn children of our isolation.
Solstice or song, in swift pursuit forever
We grieve in separate festivals of light.
What winged stallion, what immortal rider
Forks those wild flanks? What milk of generation
Fills at a thrust the bright
Throat of the womb? By what supreme endeavour
Do the chaste Muses still take inspiration
And tune the strings aright
By the god’s bow that twangs to slay and sever?
Aimer of pestilence, Lucifer of healing,
Destroyer of the piping faun, Apollo!
Join these divided hearts. In single chorus
The raving sybil and the lucid seer
Find words to the one music, each revealing
Light in the other’s dark, dark in that shining, hollow
Which spins the changeless images before us.
Sign after sign, the constellations follow,
Mirrored across the year
Where Scorpio views her house of death in Taurus.
Where the Wise Archer hangs his glittering quiver
Each son of Leda greets a heavenly brother.
As country or sex or song or birth conspire
The hemispheres set their crystal walls between.
Narcissus in air, Narcissus in the river
Drown in an alien element, or smother
The lives towards which they lean.
Yet, through the burning circles of desire,
Immortal spirits behold, each in the other:
His pillar of flame serene,
She, the unknown somnambulist of her fire.
Cradles of earth receive the salamander
But once at most in any generation;
Once in an age a desert tribe surprises
The solitary bird, the burning tree;
Innocent of their state, the poets wander,
Seeking the kindred of their incarnation,
Waste land and homeless sea.
Phosphor declining as Orion rises
May for a brief hour break his isolation,
The dying Phoenix see
New Phoenix blazing in her nest of spices.
Only in space, not time, the pattern changes:
Over your land of memory, enchanted
Glides the Celestial Swan, and in your bitter
Darkness the She-Bear shambles round the Pole;
Anvils of summer, in mine, the iron ranges
Rise from its arid heart to see the haunted
River of Light unroll
Towards Achernar, where Hermes, the transmitter
Of spirits, herald of men and gods, has granted
Speech between soul and soul,
And each to each the Swan and Phoenix glitter.
The mortal hearts of poets first engender
The parleying of those immortal creatures;
Then from their interchange create unending
Orbits of song and colloquies of light;
Sexes in their apocalyptic splendour
In mutual contemplation of their natures
Transfigure or unite;
Descant and burden in diapason blending,
Urania dances, and the sacred gestures
Become the words we write,
My lark arising or your dove descending.
For you the gods of song forgo their quarrel;
Panther and Wolf forget their former anger;
For you this ancient ceremony of greeting
Becomes a solemn apopemptic hymn.
Muses who twine the ivy with the laurel
In savage measures celebrate you, Stranger;
For you the Maenads trim
Their torches and, in order due repeating
The stately ode, invoke you. Wanderer, Ranger,
Beyond the utmost rim
Of waters, hear the voice of these entreating!
And, as the solitary bird of passage,
Loosing her heart across the wastes of ocean,
Sees round the cliffs of home the black tide crawling,
Accept the incantation of this verse;
Read its plain words; divine the secret message
By which the dance itself reveals a notion
That moves our universe.
In the star rising or the lost leaf falling
The life of poetry, this enchanted motion,
Take, then, this homage of our craft and calling!
Put on your figures of fable: with the chalice
From which the poets alone drink wisdom, healing
And joy that weds the thyrsus with the lyre,
Be Circe—or be my Queen of Sheba; come
Silent at nightfall to my silent palace
And read my heart, and rest; and when the wheeling
Signs of the sky turn home,
I shall arise and show you in his byre
Among your milk-white dromedaries kneeling,
Fierce in that lilied gloom,
My horn of gold, my unicorn of fire.