Faun in Exile


In her eyes I saw her history written.
Where brown disintegrated into green
And gold, with a red glint between.
I looked and understood.

There I read
The memory of a faun’s pursuit
Through the myrtle wood;
How nymphs, aroused, had fled,
And he that followed after,
Bewildered by the talking water, led
By uncertain laughter,
Wandered far from his home.

His hunting thwarted,
Vineyards led him to the sea slope.
There were his eyes the warm pulsating gold
Of an inland sea.

Seeking wine on the wharves, the drunken faun
Rolled in a wine-ship’s hold
And was borne to this desolate coast.

Here were no myrtle groves,
No familiar shrines,
Only the splintered casks and sweet wines
Spilt in the sea.
Here were no grapes,
But bitter berries grew in the marsh.

Here was no moss,
But sea-worn logs and the harsh
Grass on the dune-top.

Here was no mirth;
In this forlorn meeting of sea and land,
Eyes are the green of stormy water,
And the sand
Lies suddenly cold under the hand.

From this shore, always windy and roaring,
An exile learns
To keep where a fire burns.
And still by night the warm rhythm returns
From groves forgotten.

Then vain is the disguise
Of small hand or white throat.
The green and gold and red strangely appear
In a woman’s eyes—
As if one were to hear
The tap of cloven hooves amid the rustlings
In convent corridors.

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