The rains were soft today -- ah, such sweet delight!
Each drop like white wine played across the mind
with dance and minuet, and sparkled in the light
like diamonds in the dust or smiles soft and kind,
each splash and patter pounding out the pulse of life
whereby the sky, the earth, in holy union each embrace
the other to its bosom, and the one lifts up its face
to feel the other's kiss -- ah, such sweet delight!
It was honey to reason's tongue, and ah! such sweet delight!
The air was sharp and clear; it was ringing like a bell
that is struck on solemn Sunday when couples newly-wed,
drinking from each other's eyes as the thirsty from a well,
dance with conjugal rejoicing to the flowering genius-bed;
lares and penates whisper as the gardens of our sight
bloom and sway and grow, life-rich like verdant ponds,
and to every heart's bright questions lie ready to respond.
The wind brushed past my skin, caressing where it fell.
It charged my will with love, and ah! such sweet delight!
The sun, profligate with rainbows, beamed with parent-pride
on all its living scions that flourish on this vital earth,
which into many cousin-families once happily did divide,
each to sing a note in symphony, in polyphonic birth,
each to taste the waters, to breathe in the piercing light,
to leap beneath the sun in the everlasting dance
which is composed of law compacted with sweet chance,
to look up to the sun-god who slays the wayward night.
I saw this all, and shivered with, ah! such sweet delight!
The Long Sedan
The Devil drove up in a long sedan,
its color jet and its windows night,
a darkness from which no hint of light
could ever escape, nor any man.
He stepped outside in a cunning style
of jacket, his motion smooth like silk,
and he wore, as do all hell's ilk,
the gloss of a fashion smile.
He took me up to the Temple-tower,
up to the highest judgment-seat,
and laid the world before my feet,
and promised success in endless shower
if I would but once recognize
the gods of this world, and mammon's power,
and earthly wisdom, the mind of the hour,
and see the world through worldly eyes.
"For," said he, "escapist dreams
will never change the simple fact
that matter is needed to ground each act;
your hopes may whisper, your need will scream.
If you but follow the sign of my way,
great good you'll do, and have great might
and shine in the world a blazing light,
as clear as the sun at bright noonday.
It's easy enough, no special charm
is required, just to sign your name
in a pact that says you will play the game;
there is no pain, nor any harm,
no Walpurgis night to shock the eyes,
no sacrifice, no dirty hands,
just living in full the life of man
as it always is lived beneath the sky."
Then said I, "That may be true,
but well I know that the Devil sells
only one thing, a house in hell,
where what you want is what you rue.
Your voice enchants a weakened heart,
and it well may be the course of fate
that without your aid no glory waits;
but I will take the better part.
Even if all is as you say,
and in every thing I must then fail,
and fall from out of every tale,
yet I accept the lesser way.
You make a bond seem like a boon,
but I know the Devil lies."
Pensive, but with burning eyes,
he stood a bit in the bright full moon
then smiled, his teeth like pearls.
"You speak quite bravely and for show,
but in the end we both still know
that I am coiled around the world
and around your heart. You are not so wise
as never to have loved me, nor sought gain,
nor failed the good to avoid its pain;
and while my offer you may despise,
it but makes plain the present pact,
the understanding we have kept
since you long before in Adam slept --
the convention of your thought and act,
which belies your words, shows the lie
to your height of mind; my rule you fight
when I make it plain; but on the quiet
you accept its terms, and hide it by."
And in my shame I hid my face;
this word was true; in that bright moonlight
I could not hide what was clear to sight.
"Then," said I, "God give me grace."
With sardonic salute and knowing smile,
he stepped back in and the long sedan
drove on; but he shouted, "So long, O man;
you will come to me in a little while."
The blood was pounding in my brain,
and a mist came up and obscured the day;
my eye could not see my intended way,
and as I wept, it began to rain.