Sea garden
Hilda (Doolittle) Aldington

THE CLIFF TEMPLE

I

GREAT, bright portal,
shelf of rock,
rocks fitted in long ledges,
rocks fitted to dark, to silver granite,
to lighter rock—
clean cut, white against white.
High—high—and no hill-goat
tramples—no mountain-sheep
has set foot on your fine grass;
you lift, you are the-world-edge,
pillar for the sky-arch.
The world heaved—
we are next to the sky:
over us, sea-hawks shout,
gulls sweep past—
the terrible breakers are silent
from this place.
Below us, on the rock-edge,
where earth is caught in the fissures
of the jagged cliff,
a small tree stiffens in the gale,
it bends—but its white flowers
are fragrant at this height.
And under and under,
the wind booms:
it whistles, it thunders,
it growls—it presses the grass
beneath its great feet.
Page  27

II

I said:
for ever and for ever, must I follow you
through the stones?
I catch at you—you lurch:
you are quicker than my hand-grasp.
I wondered at you.
I shouted—dear—mysterious—beautiful—
white myrtle-flesh.
I was splintered and torn:
the hill-path mounted
swifter than my feet.
Could a daemon avenge this hurt,
I would cry to him—could a ghost,
I would shout—O evil,
follow this god,
taunt him with his evil and his vice.

III

Shall I hurl myself from here,
shall I leap and be nearer you?
Shall I drop, beloved, beloved,
ankle against ankle?
Would you pity me, O white breast?
If I woke, would you pity me,
would our eyes meet?
Have you heard,
do you know how I climbed this rock?
My breath caught, I lurched forward—
I stumbled in the ground-myrtle.
Page  28
Have you heard, O god seated on the cliff,
how far toward the ledges of your house,
how far I had to walk?

IV

Over me the wind swirls.
I have stood on your portal
and I know—
you are further than this,
still further on another cliff.
Page  29