Twice now that lucid fiction of the pane
dissolves, the sphere that winter’s crystal bane
still-charm’d to glass the sad metempsychose
and futile ages of the suffering rose —
what, in its halt, the weary mood might show.
Earth stirs in me that stirs with roots below,
and distant nerves shrink with the lilac mist
of perfume blossom’d round the lure that, kist,
is known hard burn o’erflaked and cruel sting.
I would this old illusion of the spring
might perish once with all her airs that fawn
and traitor roses of the wooing dawn:
for none hath known the magic dream of gold
come sooth, since that first surge of light outroll’d
heroic, broke the august and mother sleep
and foam’d, and azure was the rearward deep;
and Eden afloat among the virgin boughs
fused, song-jewel sudden, and flesh was blithe with vows
to tread, divine, under the naked air;
nor knew, alas! self-doom’d thro’ time to bear
lewd summer’s dusty mock and roses’ fall,
and cynic spring, returning, virginal.
Chimaera writhes beside the tragic flame
of the old hearth: her starting jaws proclaim,
a silent cry, the craven world’s attaint.
Her vans that beat against a hard constraint
leaps, as the coals jet in a moment-spasm:
yet their taut ribs hurt not the serpent chasm
of shade, that slips swift to its absent den,
to settle, grimlier, at her throat again.
And, starward were their prison-roof increas’d,
no sun that bathes him for a dewy east
would light her mail, above the tainted air
a meteor-dazzling gem, but the red flare
kindle disastrous on our burning eyes
from where the sullen embers agonize,
once the heart’s rose-flusht dream of living gold.
Therefore her croup, thro’ many a lapsing fold,
is bound into the iron’s night, to check
the frenzy that contorts her charging neck:
her life is flitting with the fitful red
splashing her flank as ’twere her courage bled
to curdle with the void, whose metal-cold
shall seal her gone, a block no art shall mould.
And now the shining tongues that sprang to lick
the obscene blackness in are tarnisht thick:
insidiously thro’ each blank pane the dark
invades from space, vast cemetery: one spark
flies up, the lessen’d ghost of flame: her flight
stiffens, and is a settled piece of night.