Blackly lovely Shulammite
Bringing peace and perfumed night,
Lily nested deep in thorns,
Purity your heart adorns!
Can I measure all our love?
Worlds you are, my grace, my dove,
Plains of glory, mountains high,
Flawless color, sculpted thigh,
Majesty with woman's face:
Let us paths to vineyards race,
Never any moment wasting,
Ever choicest passion tasting.
War among the gods, they say, anciently shook the world.
Mountain thrust back sea, sea swallowed islands whole,
wind uprooted mighty stone, monsters fought in boundless deep.
Can any imagine, can any dream, the mighty convulsions of gods at war?
But even divine wars fall to quiet, even gods know harsh defeat.
Battles ended. The darkest god, who brings the darkness dark night fears,
a starless lightlessness that burns, to his knees fell. His crown broken,
his mighty form chain-encircled, he was driven across the wastes,
and brought to judgment by the gods. Cany any imagine, can any know,
the rite and law of that ancient court? But once I traced an errant strand
of darkest darkness in my dreams, a cord of lightless thread.
At its end spread out like glass a silent sea that knew no wind
was sorrowing at the world's end. Within its quiet depths were stars.
Across that sea the darkness rolled in blanket fog, wisps of cloud,
from which my lightless clue had come. Upon the lapping shore a boat
with mighty prow had been moored. In it I crossed that glassy sea,
for, windless, nonetheless it moved, into the center far from shore.
There upon a mighty stone, where it rained and water dripped,
a form of darkness sat in bonds, a mountain up it, towaring, rose,
and from it darkness poured, a darkness blind of light.
There in brooding the darkest god in links of iron sits engloomed.
I quailed and fled; but I had seen and know too well the end.
In all this world the darkest dark is but a night that knows the stars,
or else that darkness in the earth that fire knew, and light of sun.
Only here and there in impure strands we find a darker darkness.
But on that island made of stone sits the darkest god. The rain
will slowly rust his iron chains until they weaken, twist, and break,
until the end of sentence comes, and on the earth, with mighty form,
the darkness walks again.