Song of Solomon, 4:12-16

A garden locked is my sister, my bride,
a spring locked, a fountain sealed.
Your shoots are an orchard of pomegranates
with all choicest fruits,
henna with nard,
nard and saffron, calamus and cinnamon,
with all trees of frankincense,
myrrh and aloes,
with all choice spices—
a garden fountain, a well of living water,
and flowing streams from Lebanon.

Awake, O north wind,
and come, O south wind!
Blow upon my garden,
let its spices flow.

Ode

We are the music-makers,
And we are the dreamers of dreams,
Wandering by lone sea-breakers,
And sitting by desolate streams;
World-losers and world-forsakers,
On whom the pale moon gleams:
Yet we are the movers and shakers
Of the world for ever, it seems.

With wonderful deathless ditties
We build up the world’s great cities,
And out of a fabulous story
We fashion an empire’s glory:
One man with a dream, at pleasure,
Shall go forth and conquer a crown;
And three with a new song’s measure
Can trample an empire down.

We, in the ages lying
In the buried past of the earth,
Built Nineveh with our sighing,
And Babel itself with our mirth;
And o’erthrew them with prophesying
To the old of the new world’s worth;
For each age is a dream that is dying,
Or one that is coming to birth.

—Arthur O’Shaughnessy, 1844–1881

With Ships the sea was sprinkled far and nigh,

Like stars in heaven, and joyously it showed;
Some lying fast at anchor in the road,
Some veering up and down, one knew not why.
A goodly Vessel did I then espy
Come like a giant from a haven broad;
And lustily along the bay she strode,
Her tackling rich, and of apparel high.
This Ship was nought to me, nor I to her,
Yet I pursued her with a Lover’s look;
This Ship to all the rest did I prefer:
When will she turn, and whither? She will brook
No tarrying; where She comes the winds must stir:
On went She, and due NORTH her journey took.

— William Wordsworth

{x}

Imagination

by Clark Ashton Smith

Imagination, to thine occult sight,
All things are crystal—earth, and sea, and sky,
The seen and the unseen, but limpid light;
Unvisioned stars shall not thy wings defy;
For thee the Future hath no secrecy:
Not with the senses dost thou share the chains
Of Time, and Space’s prison; thou dost fly
At will the narrow bourne of their domains
For realms where never bruit of Time and Space attains.

All earth is empire of thy tireless quest:
Thy wings achieve the cloud-invested height,
Or down the distant sunset-flooded West,
Thou vanishest in long unerring flight,
That far outspeeds the swarthy plumes of Night.
Thou findest rest a space on sunset sands,
But soon a star, with Westward-sinking light,
Doth speak of more remote, untrodden strands,
And forth thou farest toward those undiscovered lands.

No realm nor place is secret from thy gaze.
The kingdoms of the bird and fish are thine:
Thy pinions try the eagle’s lucid ways,
Then sink to search the foaming vasts of brine.
Thou soar’st to meet the morning’s lucent shine,
Where Night and Day beneath thy feet are spread
In long insuperable battle-line;
Then in a breath thou front’st the sunset’s red,
Or seekest midnight’s realm of mystery and dread.

The ocean yields its secrets unto thee:
Far down beneath the agitated wave,
Where winds stir not the anger of the sea,
Thou plungest to some Nereid’s emerald cave,
Whose floors the varied shells of ocean pave.
Here wealth of pearls and strange sea-flowers is thine,
But soon, aweary grown, thy soul doth crave
The noontide air, and where the breakers shine,
Thou soar’st to watch their furious cliff-assailing line.

And then thou questest dusks obscure and strange—
Perpetual twilights—in some jungle’s heart,
Where darkness comes, a scarcely-noted change.
Here trees inweave, as if with conscious art,
O’er pools that of the gloom appear a part,
Nor know the silver kiss of star or moon;
And birds strange-plumaged, unauthentic, dart
Through shadows that affirm and then impugn
And leaves and flowers unfamiliar to the noon.

Now o’er a Winter land thou hoverest,
Its sunlit snow to mark, on transient wing.
To trees, in glittering icy armour dressed,
Mild Southern winds bear bruit of coming Spring,
And seek to rouse, with amorous whispering,
The white-robed grass; the clouds austere and grey
That late were earth’s dark-vaulted covering,
In ranks disordered, dim, now flee away,
And skies of azure threaten Winter’s waning sway.

Thy pinions find a desert drear, forlorn,
Where purple Night fills all the fruitless land,
Deepest a little ere the East of morn
Grows ominous. Her all-deleting hand
Seems promise that her reign awhile shall stand,
When Day, with baleful Cyclopean eye,
Upleaps in flame, and of his sway the sand
Grows ostent, swift. In gardens of the sky,
At his fell breath, the stars are withered utterly!

Of other worlds thy wings ambitious are:
O’er airless gulfs that yawn past reach of Day—
Unfathomed voids of space ’twixt star and star,
Unhesitatingly thou dost essay
Some world exclusive from the sun’s wide sway.
Strange forms of life thine eyes thereon descry—
New, unfamiliar—that yet tread a way,
Which, dim and difficult, like ours doth lie
Through dark and pain, toward goals that gleam in unity.

The outer barriers of our system past,
Thou stayst thy flight, to mark in awe and dread,
Some world that ruins down the darkling vast,
Or suns and asteroids, that hurtling red,
To cataclysmic vortices are fed,
And equallized in ruin. Then in gloom
Of planets derelict, long ages dead,
That whirl where never suns nor stars illume,
Thou ’light’st a space to muse upon their frozen doom.

Thy magic spells recall the Past to life,
Before thine eyes the pageant of the years
Doth move, with its reanimated strife,
Its record of forgotten hopes and fears;
Dead loves and hates, and buried joys, and tears
Long-fallen, to thy voice obedient,
Arise and live again; unto thine ears
Voices for ages still are eloquent,
And thou beholdest forms long years in darkness pent.
Once more the might of Rome and Babylon
Lies as a shadow over East and West;
Again Greece sheds a glory as of dawn,
Whose lambent splendour all the years attest;

Once more in empire’s tidal, quick unrest,
Egypt and Tyre and Persia rise in state,
And Alexander’s world-lust is addressed
Unto their humbling; thrones and nations great
Again are raised or levelled, as the Fates dictate.

’Mong peoples and through realms restored to light,
At will thou wanderest. Thou dost behold
Swart Egypt’s gods, enthroned in templed might
Along the Nile, and ’fore thine eyes unfold
Their vanished pomps, with glare of gems and gold;
Thou look’st on Rome, when at its utmost height,
Her grandeur dazzled earth; the wars of old
Upflame and rage anew within thy sight,
With sanguine pageant of advance, retreat, and fight.

The City in the Desert

In a lost land, that only dreams have known,
Where flaming suns walk naked and alone;
Among horizons bright as molten brass,
And glowing heavens like furnaces of glass,
It rears with dome and tower manifold,
Rich as a dawn of amarant and gold,
Or gorgeous as the Phoenix, born of fire,
And soaring from an opalescent pyre
Sheer to the zenith. Like some anademe
Of Titan jewels turned to flame and dream
The city crowns the far horizon-light
Over the flowered meads of damassin …
A desert isle of madreperl! wherein
The thurifer and opal-fruited palm
And heaven-thronging minarets becalm
The seas of azure wind..

– Clark Ashton Smith

The Absence of the Muse

O Muse, where loiterest thou? In any land
Of Saturn, lit with moons and nenuphars?
Or in what high metropolis of Mars–
Hearing the gongs of dire, occult command,
And bugles blown from strand to unknown strand
Of continents embattled in old wars
That primal kings began? Or on the bars
Of ebbing seas in Venus, from the sand
Of shattered nacre with a thousand hues,
Dost pluck the blossoms of the purple wrack
And roses of blue coral for thy hair?
Or, flown beyond the roaring Zodiac,
Translatest thou the tale of earthly news
And earthly songs to singers of Altair?

– Clark Ashton Smith

A Vision of Zimiamvia

by Eric Rücker Eddison

I will have gold and silver for my delight:
Hangings of red silk, purfled and work’d in gold
With mantichores and what worse shapes of fright
Terror Antiquus spawn’d in the days of old.
I will have columns of Parian vein’d with gems,
Their capitals by Pheidias’ self design’d,
By his hand carv’d, for flowers with strong smooth stems,
Nepenthe, Elysian Amaranth, and their kind.

I will have night: and the taste of a field well fought,
And a golden bed made wide for luxury;
And there,– since else were all things else prov’d naught,–
Bestower and hallower of all things: I will have Thee.

–Thee, and hawthorn time. For in that new birth though all
Change, you I will have unchang’d: even that dress,
So fall’n to your hips as lapping waves should fall:
You, cloth’d upon with your beauty’s nakedness.

The line of your flank: so lily-pure and warm:
The globéd wonder of splendid breasts laid bare:
The gleam, like cymbals a-clash, when you lift your arm;
And the faun leaps out with the sweetness of red-gold hair.

My dear,– my tongue is broken: I cannot see:
A sudden subtle fire beneath my skin
Runs, and an inward thunder deafens me,
Drowning mine ears: I tremble. – O unpin

Those pins of anachite diamond, and unbraid
Those strings of margery-pearls, and so let fall
Your python tresses in their deep cascade
To be your misty robe imperial. –

The beating of wings, the gallop, the wild spate,
Die down. A hush resumes all Being, which you
Do with your starry presence consecrate,
And peace of moon-trod gardens and falling dew.

Two are our bodies: two are our minds, but wed.
On your dear shoulder, like a child asleep,
I let my shut lids press, while round my head
Your gracious hands their benediction keep.

Mistress of my delights; and Mistress of Peace:
O ever changing, never changing, You:
Dear pledge of our true love’s unending lease,
Since true to you means to mine own self true.–

I will have gold and jewels for my delight:
Hyacinth, ruby, and smaragd, and curtains work’d in gold
With mantichores and what worse shapes of fright
Terror Antiquus spawn’d in the days of old.

Earth I will have, and the deep sky’s ornament:
Lordship, and hardship, and peril by land and sea.–
And still, about cock-shut time, to pay for my banishment,
Safe in the lowe of the firelight I will have Thee.

The Summer Day

Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean–
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down–
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?

– Mary Oliver