Pictures of the floating world, by Amy Lowell.
Lowell, Amy, 1874-1925.

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Page  V "In the name of these States and in your and my name, the Past, And in the name of these States and in your and my name, the Present time." Walt Whitman. " WITH ANTECEDENTS."

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Page  VII FOREWORD THE march of peoples is always toward the West, wherefore, the earth being round, in time the West must be East again. A startling paradox, but one which accounts for the great interest and inspiration that both poets and painters are discovering in Oriental art. The first part of this book represents some of the charm I have found in delving into Chinese and Japanese poetry. It should be understood, however, that these poems, written in a quasiOriental idiom, are not translations except in a very few instances all of which have been duly acknowledged in the text. In the Japanese "Lacquer Prints," the hokku pattern has been more closely followed than has any corresponding Chinese form in the "Chinoiseries"; but, even here, I have made no ii. Vll.

Page  VIII Vill FOREWORD attempt to observe the syllabic rules which are an integral part of all Japanese poetry. I have endeavoured only to keep the brevity and suggestion of the hokku, and to preserve it within its natural sphere. Some of the subjects are purely imaginary, some are taken from legends or historical events, others owe their inception to the vivid, realistic colour-prints of the Japanese masters, but all alike are peculiar to one corner of the globe and, for the most part, to one epoch - the eighteenth century. The second half of the volume, "Planes of Personality," consists of lyrical poems, deriving from everywhere and nowhere as is the case with all poetry, and needing no introduction. They have been written at various times during the last five years - the earliest, immediately after the publication of "Sword Blades and Poppy Seed"; the most recent, only yesterday. They are here collected for the first time, since the scheme of my last two books of poetry,

Page  IX FOREWORD ix "Men, Women and Ghosts" and "Can Grande's Castle," necessarily forbade their inclusion in those volumes. AMY LOWELL. BROOKLINE, MASS. April 27, 1919.

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Page  XV CONTENTS XV OMBRE CHINOISE..... 48 JULY MIDNIGHT........ 49 WHEAT-IN-THE-EAR....... 50 THE WEATHER-COCK POINTS SOUTH. 51 THE ARTIST........ 53 THE GARDEN BY MOONLIGHT..... 54 INTERLUDE......... 56 BULLION......... 58 THE WHEEL OF THE SUN...... 59 A SHOWER......... 61 SUMMER RAIN........ 62 APRIL..........63 COQ D'OR........ 64 THE CHARM........ 66 AFTER A STORM........ 67 OPAL.......... 69 WAKEFULNESS........ 70 ORANGE OF MIDSUMMER...... 71 SHORE GRASS........ 73 AUTUMNAL EQUINOX....... 74 THE COUNTRY HOUSE...... 75

Page  XVI xvI CONTENTS NERVES...76 LEFT BEHIND...... 78 AUTUMN......... 79 THE SIXTEENTH FLOOR...... 80 STRAIN......... 81 HAUNTED......... 83 GROTESQUE......... 84 SNOW IN APRIL.......... 85 A SPRIG OF ROSEMARY...... 87 MALADIE DE L'APRES-MIDI..... 88 NOVEMBER......... 90 NOSTALGIA......... 91 PREPARATION... 92 A DECADE......... 94 PENUMBRA......... 95 FRIMAIRE......... 98 EYES, AND EARS, AND WALKING SOLITAIRE........ 103 THE BACK BAY FENS...... 104 FREE FANTASIA ON JAPANESE THEMES... 105




Page  XX xx CONTENTS THE FORT......... 35 CAMOUFLAGED TROOP-SHIP......239 SEPTEMBER. 1918.......244 THE NIGHT BEFORE THE PARADE.... 246 AS TOWARD IMMORTALITY ON A CERTAIN CRITIC...... 253 The author wishes to thank the editors of the following magazines and newspapers for permission to reprint such of these poems as have already appeared in their pages: The Atlantic Monthly, The Century, Scribner's, Harper's, The North American Review, The Yale Review, The Bookman, The Seven Arts, The New Republic, Poetry, The Dial, Reedy's Mirror, The Touchstone, The Smart Set, The Independent, The Craftsman, Good Housekeeping, House and Garden, Vanity Fair, The Little Review, Others, The Poetry Journal, The Masses, La Revista de Indias, The Lyric, Youth, The Trimmed Lamp, The New York Tribune, The New York Sun, Poetry and Drama, London, The Egoist, London, also Some Imagist Poets, Some Imagist Poets —1916, and Some Imagist Poets —1917, published by Houghton Mifflin Company.


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Page  3 LACQUER PRINTS STREETS (Adapted from the poet Yakura Sanjin, 1769) As I wandered through the eight hundred and eight streets of the city, I saw nothing so beautiful As the Women of the Green Houses, With their girdles of spun gold, And their long-sleeved dresses, Coloured like the graining of wood. As they walk, The hems of their outer garments flutter open, And the blood-red linings glow like sharp-toothed maple leaves In Autumn.

Page  4 4 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD BY MESSENGER ONE night When there was a clear moon, I sat down To write a poem About maple-trees. But the dazzle of moonlight In the ink Blinded me, And I could only write What I remembered. Therefore, on the wrapping of my poem I have inscribed your name. CIRCUMSTANCE UPON the maple leaves The dew shines red, But on the lotus blossom It has the pale transparence of tears.

Page  5 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD 5 ANGLES THE rain is dark against the white sky, Or white against the foliage of eucalyptus-trees. But, in the cistern, it is a sheet of mauve and amber, I Because of the chrysanthemums Heaped about its edge. i VICARIOUS WHEN I stand under the willow-tree Above the river, In my straw-coloured silken garment Embroidered with purple chrysanthemums, It is not at the bright water That I am gazing, But at your portrait, Which I have caused to be painted On my fan.

Page  6 6 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD NEAR KIOTO As I crossed over the bridge of Ariwarano Narikira, I saw that the waters were purple With the floating leaves of maples. DESOLATION UNDER the plum-blossoms are nightingales; But the sea is hidden in an egg-white mist, And they are silent. YOSHIWARA LAMENT GOLDEN peacocks Under blossoming cherry-trees, But on all the wide sea There is no boat. SUNSHINE THE pool is edged with the blade-like leaves of irises. If I throw a stone into the placid water,

Page  7 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD 7 It suddenly stiffens Into rings and rings Of sharp gold wire. ILLUSION WALKING beside the tree-peonies, I saw a beetle Whose wings were of black lacquer spotted with milk. I would have caught it, But it ran from me swiftly And hid under the stone lotus Which supports the statue of Buddha. A YEAR PASSES BEYOND the porcelain fence of the pleasure garden, I hear the frogs in the blue-green rice-fields; But the sword-shaped moon Has cut my heart in two.

Page  8 8 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD A LOVER IF I could catch the green lantern of the firefly I could see to write you a letter. To A HUSBAND BRIGHTER than fireflies upon the Uji River Are your words in the dark, Beloved. THE FISHERMAN'S WIFE WHEN I am alone, The wind in the pine-trees Is like the shuffling of waves Upon the wooden sides of a boat. FROM CHINA I THOUGHT:The moon, Shining upon the many steps of the palace before me,

Page  9 PICTURES OP THE FLOATING WORLD 9 Shines also upon the chequered rice-fields Of my native land. And my tears fell Like white rice grains At my feet. THE POND COLD, wet leaves Floating on moss-coloured water, And the croaking of frogsCracked bell-notes in the twilight. AUTUMN ALL day I have watched the purple vine leaves Fall into the water. And now in the moonlight they still fall, But each leaf is fringed with silver.

Page  10 10 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD EPHEMERA SILVER-GREEN lanterns tossing among windy branches: So an old man thinks Of the loves of his youth. DOCUMENT THE great painter, Hokusai, In his old age, Wrote these words: "Profiting by a beautiful Spring day, In this year of tranquillity, To warm myself in the sun, I received a visit from my publisher Who asked me to do something for him. Then I reflected that one should not forget the glory of arms, Above all when one was living in peace; And in spite of my age,

Page  11 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD 11 Which is more than seventy years, I have found courage to draw those ancient heroes Who have been the models of glory." THE EMPEROR'S GARDEN ONCE, in the sultry heats of Midsummer, An Emperor caused the miniature mountains in his garden To be covered with white silk, That so crowned They might cool his eyes With the sparkle of snow. ONE OF THE "HUNDRED VIEWS OF FUJI" BY HOKUSAI BEING thirsty, I filled a cup with water, And, behold! Fuji-yama lay upon the water Like a dropped leaf!

Page  12 1 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD DISILLUSION A SCHOLAR, Weary of erecting the fragile towers of words, Went on a pilgrimage to Asama-yama. And seeing the force of the fire Spouting from this mighty mountain, Hurled himself into its crater And perished. PAPER FISHES THE paper carp, At the end of its long bamboo pole, Takes the wind into its mouth And emits it at its tail. So is man, Forever swallowing the wind.

Page  13 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD 13 MEDITATION A WISE man, Watching the stars pass across the sky, Remarked: In the upper air the fireflies move more slowly. THE CAMELLIA TREE OF MATSUE AT Matsue, There was a Camellia Tree of great beauty Whose blossoms were white as honey wax Splashed and streaked with the pink of fair coral. At night, When the moon rose in the sky, The Camellia Tree would leave its place By the gateway, And wander up and down the garden, Trailing its roots behind it

Page  14 14 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD Like a train of rustling silk. The people in the house, Hearing the scrape of them upon the gravel, Looked out into the garden And saw the tree, With its flowers erect and peering, Pressed against the shoji. Many nights the tree walked about the garden, Until the women and children Became frightened, And the Master of the house Ordered that it be cut down. But when the gardener brought his axe And struck at the trunk of the tree, There spouted forth a stream of dark blood; And when the stump was torn up, The hole quivered like an open wound.

Page  15 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD SUPERSTITION I HAVE painted a picture of a ghost Upon my kite, And hung it on a tree. Later, when I loose the string And let it fly, The people will cower And hide their heads, For fear of the God Swimming in the clouds. THE RETURN COMING up from my boat In haste to lighten your anxiety, I saw, reflected in the circular metal mirror, The face and hands of a woman Arranging her hair. 15

Page  16 16 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD A LADY TO HER LOVER THE white snows of Winter Follow the falling of leaves; Therefore I have had your portrait cut In snow-white jade. NUANCE EVEN the iris bends When a butterfly lights upon it. AUTUMN HAZE Is it a dragonfly or a maple leaf That settles softly down upon the water? PEACE PERCHED upon the muzzle of a cannon A yellow butterfly is slowly opening and shutting its wings.

Page  17 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD 17 IN TIME OF WAR ACROSS the newly-plastered wall, The darting of red dragonflies Is like the shooting Of blood-tipped arrows. NUIT BLANCHE THE chirping of crickets in the night Is intermittent, Like the twinkling of stars. SPRING DAWN HE wore a coat With gold and red maple leaves, He was girt with the two swords, He carried a peony lantern. When I awoke, There was only the blue shadow of the plum-tree Upon the shoji.

Page  18 18 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD POETRY OVER the shop where silk is sold Still the dragon kites are flying. FROM A WINDOW YOUR footfalls on the drum bridge beside my house Are like the pattering drops of a passing shower, So soon are they gone. AGAIN THE NEW YEAR FESTIVAL I HAVE drunk your health In the red-lacquer wine cups, But the wind-bells on the bronze lanterns In my garden Are corroded and fallen.

Page  19 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD 19 TIME LOOKING at myself in my metal mirror, I saw, faintly outlined, The figure of a crane Engraved upon its back. LEGEND WHEN the leaves of the cassia-tree Turn red in Autumn, Then the moon, In which it grows, Shines for many nights More brightly. PILGRIMS ASCENDING FUJI-YAMA I SHOULD tremble at the falling showers of ashes Dislodged by my feet, Did I not know

Page  20 20 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD That at night they fly upward And spread themselves once more Upon the slopes of the Honourable Mountain. THE KAGOES OF A RETURNING TRAVELLER DIAGONALLY between the cryptomerias, What I took for the flapping of wings Was the beating feet of your runners, 0 my Lord! A STREET UNDER red umbrellas with cream-white centres, A procession of Geisha passes In front of the silk-shop of Matsuzaka-ya. OUTSIDE A GATE ON the floor of the empty palanquin The plum-petals constantly increase.

Page  21 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD 21 ROAD TO THE YOSHIWARA COMING to you along the Nihon Embankment, Suddenly the road was darkened By a flock of wild geese Crossing the moon. Ox STREET. TAKANAWA WHAT is a rainbow? Have I not seen its colours and its shape Duplicated in the melon slices Lying beside an empty cart? A DAIMIO'S OIRAN WHEN I hear your runners shouting: "Get down! Get down!" Then I dress my hair With the little chrysanthemums.

Page  22 22 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD PASSING THE BAMBOO FENCE WHAT fell upon my open umbrella - A plum-blossom? FROSTY EVENING IT is not the bright light in your window Which dazzles my eyes; It is the dim outline of your shadow Moving upon the sh6ji. AN ARTIST THE anchorite, Kisen, Composed a thousand poems And threw nine hundred and ninety-nine into the river Finding one alone worthy of preservation.

Page  23 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD A BURNT OFFERING BECAUSE there was no wind, The smoke of your letters hung in the air For a long time; And its shape Was the shape of your face, My Beloved. DAYBREAK. YOSHIWARA DRAW your hoods tightly, You who must depart, The morning mist Is grey and miasmic. TEMPLE CEREMONY (From the Japanese of Sojo Henjo) BLOW softly, 0 Wind! And let no clouds cover the moon

Page  24 24 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD Which lights the posturing steps Of the most beautiful of dancers. Two PORTERS RETURNING ALONG A COUNTRY ROAD SINCE an empty kago can be carried upon the back of one man, Therefore the other has nothing to do But gaze at the white circle Drawn about the flying moon. STORM BY THE SEASHORE THERE is no moon in the sky, But with each step I see one grow in the sand Under my feet. This interests me so much That I forget the rain Beating against the lantern Which my cloak only partially covers.

Page  25 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD THE EXILED EMPEROR THE birds sing to-day, For to-morrow they will be flown Many miles across the tossing sea. LETTER WRITTEN FROM PRISON BY TWO POLITICAL OFFENDERS WHEN a hero fails of his purpose, His acts are regarded as those of a villain and a robber. Pursuing liberty, suddenly our plans are defeated. In public we have been seized and pinioned and caged for many days. How can we find exit from this place? Weeping, we seem as fools; laughing, as rogues. Alas! for us; we can only be silent. MOON HAZE BECAUSE the moonlight deceives Therefore I love it.

Page  26 26 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD PROPORTION IN the sky there is a moon and stars, And in my garden there are yellow moths Fluttering about a white azalea bush. CONSTANCY ALTHOUGH SO many years, Still the vows we made each other Remain tied to the great trunk Of the seven separate trees In the courtyard of the Crimson Temple At Nara.

Page  27 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD 27 CHINOISERIES REFLECTIONS WHEN I looked into your eyes, I saw a garden With peonies, and tinkling pagodas, And round-arched bridges Over still lakes. A woman sat beside the water In a rain-blue, silken garment. She reached through the water To pluck the crimson peonies Beneath the surface, But as she grasped the stems, They jarred and broke into white-green ripples; And as she drew out her hand, The water-drops dripping from it Stained her rain-blue dress like tears.

Page  28 28 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD FALLING SNOW THE snow whispers about me, And my wooden clogs Leave holes behind me in the snow. But no one will pass this way Seeking my footsteps, And when the temple bell rings again They will be covered and gone. HOAR-FROST IN the cloud-grey mornings I heard the herons flying; And when I came into my garden, My silken outer-garment Trailed over withered leaves. A dried leaf crumbles at a touch, But I have seen many Autumns With herons blowing like smoke Across the sky.

Page  29 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD 29 GOLD-LbEAF SCREEN UNDER the broken clouds of dawn, The white leopards eat the grapes In my vineyard. And in the sunken splendour of twilight, The ring pheasants perch among the red fruit Of my pomegranate trees. The bright coloured varnish Scales off the wheels of my chariots, For the horses which should draw them Have gone Northward in a gloom of spears. My stablemen march, Each with a two-edged spear upon his shoulder, And my orchard tenders have put on the green feathered helmets And girt themselves with black bows. I stand above the terrace of three hundred rose-trees And gaze at my despoiled vineyards.

Page  30 SO PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD Drums beat among the Northern hills, But I hear only the rattle of the wind on the chipped tiles Of my roof. A thousand little stitches in the soul of a dead man - Still one can enjoy these things Sitting over a fire of camphor wood In a quilted gown of purple-red silk. A POET'S WIFE Cho Wen-chiin to her husband Ssu-ma Hsiang-ju You have taken our love and turned it into coins of silver. You sell the love poems you wrote for me, And with the price of them you buy many cups of wine. I beg that you remain dumb, That you write no more poems.

Page  31 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD 31 For the wine does us both an injury, And the words of your heart Have become the common speech of the Emperor's concubines. SPRING LONGING THE South wind blows open the folds of my dress, My feet leave wet tracks in the earth of my garden, The willows along the canal sing with new leaves turned upon the wind. I walk along the tow-path Gazing at the level water. Should I see a ribbed edge Running upon its clearness, I should know that this was caused By the prow of the boat In which you are to return.

Page  32 82 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD LI T'AI PO So, Master, the wine gave you something, I suppose. I think I see you, Your silks all disarranged, Lolling in a green-marble pavilion, Ogling the concubines of the Emperor's Court Who pass the door In yellow coats, and white jade ear-drops, Their hair pleated in folds like the hundred clouds. I watch you, Hiccoughing poetry between drinks, Sinking as the sun sinks, Sleeping for twenty-four hours, While they peek at you,

Page  33 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD 33 Giggling, Through the open door. You found something in the wine, I imagine, Since you could not leave it, Even when, after years of wandering, You sat in the boat with one sail, Travelling down the zigzag rivers On your way back to Court. You had a dream, I conjecture. You saw something under the willow-lights of the water Which swept you to dizziness, So that you toppled over the edge of the boat, And gasped, and became your dream.

Page  34 34 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD Twelve hundred years Or thereabouts. Did the wine do it? I would sit in the purple moonlight And drink three hundred cups, If I believed it. Three hundred full cups, After your excellent fashion, While in front of me The river dazzle ran before the moon, And the light flaws of the evening wind Scattered the notes of nightingales Loosely among the kuai trees. They erected a temple to you: "Great Doctor, Prince of Poetry, Immortal man who loved drink."

Page  35 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD 35 I detest wine, And I have no desire for the temple, Which under the circumstances Is fortunate. But I would sacrifice even sobriety If, when I was thoroughly drunk, I could see what you saw Under the willow-clouded water, The day you died,

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Page  39 VERNAL EQUINOX THE scent of hyacinths, like a pale mist, lies between me and my book; And the South Wind, washing through the room, Makes the candles quiver. My nerves sting at a spatter of rain on the shutter, And I am uneasy with the thrusting of green shoots Outside, in the night. Why are you not here to overpower me with your tense and urgent love?

Page  40 40 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD THE LETTER LITTLE cramped words scrawling all over the paper Like draggled fly's legs, What can you tell of the flaring moon Through the oak leaves? Or of my uncurtained window and the bare floor Spattered with moonlight? Your silly quirks and twists have nothing in them Of blossoming hawthorns, And this paper is dull, crisp, smooth, virgin of loveliness Beneath my hand. I am tired, Beloved, of chafing my heart against The want of you; Of squeezing it into little inkdrops,

Page  41 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD 41 And posting it. And I scald alone, here, under the fire Of the great moon.

Page  42 42 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD MISE EN SCENE WHEN I think of you, Beloved, I see a smooth and stately garden With parterres of gold and crimson tulips And bursting lilac leaves. There is a low-lipped basin in the midst, Where a statue of veined cream marble Perpetually pours water over her shoulder From a rounded urn. When the wind blows, The water-stream blows before it And spatters into the basin with a light tinkling, And your shawl - the colour of red violetsFlares out behind you in great curves Like the swirling draperies of a painted Madonna.

Page  43 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD 43 VENUS TRANSIENS TELL me, Was Venus more beautiful Than you are, When she topped The crinkled waves, Drifting shoreward On her plaited shell? Was Botticelli's vision Fairer than mine; And were the painted rosebuds He tossed his lady, Of better worth Than the words I blow about you To cover your too great loveliness As with a gauze Of misted silver?

Page  44 44 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD For me, You stand poised In the blue and buoyant air, Cinctured by bright winds, Treading the sunlight. And the waves which precede you Ripple and stir The sands at my feet.

Page  45 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD 45 MADONNA OF THE EVENING FLOWERS ALL day long I have been working, Ndw I am tired. I call: "Where are you?" But there is only the oak-tree rustling in the wind. The house is very quiet, The sun shines in on your books, On your scissors and thimble just put down, But you are not there. Suddenly I am lonely: Where are you? I go about searching. Then I see you, Standing under a spire of pale blue larkspur, With a basket of roses on your arm. You are cool, like silver,

Page  46 46 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD And you smile. I think the Canterbury bells are playing little tunes. You tell me that the peonies need spraying, That the columbines have overrun all bounds, That the pyrus japonica should be cut back and rounded. You tell me these things. But I look at you, heart of silver, White heart-flame of polished silver, Burning beneath the blue steeples of the larkspur, And I long to kneel instantly at your feet, While all about us peal the loud, sweet Te Deums of the Canterbury bells.

Page  47 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD 47 BRIGHT SUNLIGHT THE wind has blown a corner of your shawl Into the fountain, Where it floats and drifts Among the lily-pads Like a tissue of sapphires. But you do not heed it, Your fingers pick at the lichens On the stone edge of the basin, And your eyes follow the tall clouds As they sail over the ilex-trees.

Page  48 48 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD OMBRE CHINOISE RED foxgloves against a yellow wall streaked with plum-coloured shadows; A lady with a blue and red sunshade; The slow dash of waves upon a parapet. That is all. Non-existent - immortal - As solid as the centre of a ring of fine gold.

Page  49 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD 49 JULY MIDNIGHT FIREFLIES flicker in the tops of trees, Flicker in the lower branches, Skim along the ground. Over the moon-white lilies Is a flashing and ceasing of small, lemon-green stars. As you lean against me, Moon-white, The air all about you Is slit, and pricked, and pointed with sparkles of lemon-green flame Starting out of a background of vague, blue trees.

Page  50 50 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD WHEAT-IN-THE-EAR You stand between the cedars and the green spruces, Brilliantly naked. And I think: What are you, A gem under sunlight? A poised spear? A jade cup? You flash in front of the cedars and the tall spruces, And I see that you are fireSacrificial fire on a jade altar, Spear-tongue of white, ceremonial fire. My eyes burn, My hands are flames seeking you, But you are as remote from me as a bright pointed planet Set in the distance of an evening sky.

Page  51 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD 51 THE WEATHER-COCK POINTS SOUTH I PUT your leaves aside, One by one: The stiff, broad outer leaves; The smaller ones, Pleasant to touch, veined with purple; The glazed inner leaves. One by one I parted you from your leaves, Until you stood up like a white flower Swaying slightly in the evening wind. White flower, Flower of wax, of jade, of unstreaked agate; Flower with surfaces of ice, With shadows faintly crimson. Where in all the garden is there such a flower? The stars crowd through the lilac leaves

Page  52 52 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD To look at you. The low moon brightens you with silver. The bud is more than the calyx. There is nothing to equal a white bud, Of no colour, and of all, Burnished by moonlight, Thrust upon by a softly-swinging wind.

Page  53 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD 53 THE ARTIST WHY do you subdue yourself in golds and purples? Why do you dim yourself with folded silks? Do you not see that I can buy brocades in any draper's shop, And that I am choked in the twilight of all these colours. How pale you would be, and startling, How quiet; But your curves would spring upward Like a clear jet of flung water, You would quiver like a shot-up spray of water, You would waver, and relapse, and tremble. And I too should tremble, Watching. 1Murex-dyes and tinsel - And yet I think I could bear your beauty unshaded.

Page  54 54 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD THE GARDEN BY MOONLIGHT A BLACK cat among roses, Phlox, lilac-misted under a first-quarter moon, The sweet smells of heliotrope and night-scented stock. The garden is very still, It is dazed with moonlight, Contented with perfume, Dreaming the opium dreams of its folded poppies. Firefly lights open and vanish High as the tip buds of the golden glow Low as the sweet alyssum flowers at my feet. Moon-shimmer on leaves and trellises, Moon-spikes shafting through the snow-ball bush. Only the little faces of the ladies' delight are alert and staring, Only the cat, padding between the roses,

Page  55 'PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD 55 Shakes a branch and breaks the chequered pattern As water is broken by the falling of a leaf. Then you come, And you are quiet like the garden, And white like the alyssum flowers, And beautiful as the silent sparks of the fireflies. Ah, Beloved, do you see those orange lilies? They knew my mother, But who belonging to me will they know When I am gone.

Page  56 56,. PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD INTERLUDE WHEN I have baked white cakes And grated green almonds to spread upon them; When I have picked the green crowns from the strawberries And piled them, cone-pointed, in a blue and yellow platter; When I have smoothed the seam of the linen I have been working; What then? To-morrow it will be the same: Cakes and strawberries, And needles in and out of cloth. If the sun is beautiful on bricks and pewter, How much more beautiful is the moon, Slanting down the gauffered branches of a plum-tree; The moon,

Page  57 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD 57 Wavering across a bed of tulips; The moon, Still, Upon your face. You shine, Beloved, You and the moon. But which is the reflection? The clock is striking eleven. I think, when we have shut and barred the door, The night will be dark Outside.

Page  58 58 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD BULLION MY thoughts Chink against my ribs And roll about like silver hail-stones. I should like to spill them out, And pour them, all shining, Over you. But my heart is shut upon them And holds them straitly. Come, You! and open my heart; That my thoughts torment me no longer, But glitter in your hair.

Page  59 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD 59 THE WHEEL OF THE SUN I BEG you Hide your face from me. Draw the tissue of your head-gear Over your eyes. For I am blinded by your beauty, And my heart is strained, And aches, Before you. In the street, You spread a brightness where you walk, And I see your lifting silks And rejoice; But I cannot look up to your face. You melt my strength, And set my knees to trembling.

Page  60 60 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD Shadow yourself that I may love you, For now it is too great a pain.

Page  61 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD 61 A SHOWER THAT sputter of rain, flipping the hedge-rows And making the highways hiss, How I love it! And the touch of you upon my arm As you press against me that my umbrella May cover you. Tinkle of drops on stretched silk. Wet murmur through green branches.

Page  62 62 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD SUMMER RAIN ALL night our room was outer-walled with rain. Drops fell and flattened on the tin roof, And rang like little disks of metal. Ping! - Ping! - and there was not a pin-point of silence between them. The rain rattled and clashed, And the slats of the shutters danced and glittered. But to me the darkness was red-gold and crocuscoloured With your brightness, And the words you whispered to me Sprang up and flamed - orange torches against the rain. Torches against the wall of cool, silver rain!

Page  63 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD 63 APRIL A BIRD chirped at my window this morning, And over the sky is drawn a light net-work of clouds. Come, Let us go out into the open, For my heart leaps like a fish that is ready to spawn. I will lie under the beech-trees, Under the grey branches of the beech-trees, In a blueness of little squills and crocuses. I will lie among the little squills And be delivered of this overcharge of beauty, And that which is born shall be a joy to you Who love me.

Page  64 64 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD COQ D'OR I WALKED along a street at dawn in cold, grey light, Above me lines of windows watched, gaunt, dull, drear. The lamps were fading, and the sky was streaked rose-red, Silhouetting chimneys with their queer, round pots. My feet upon the pavement made a knock - knock - knock. Above the roofs of Westminster, Big Ben struck. The cocks on all the steeples crew in clear, flat tones, And churchyard daisies sprang away from thin, bleak bones. The golden trees were calling me: "Come! Come! Come!" The trees were fresh with daylight, and I heard bees hum.

Page  65 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD 65 A cart trailed slowly down the street, its load young greens, They sparkled like blown emeralds, and then I laughed. A morning in the city with its upthrust spires All tipped with gold and shining in the brisk, blue air, But the gold is round my forehead and the knot still holds Where you tied it in the shadows, your rose-gold hair.

Page  66 66 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD THE CHARM I LAY them before you, One, two, three silver pieces, And a copper piece Dulled with handling. The first will buy you a cake, The second a flower, The third a coloured bead. The fourth will buy you nothing at all, Since it has a hole in it. I beg you, therefore, String it about your neck, At least it will remind you of my poverty.

Page  67 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD 67 AFTER A STORM You walk under the ice trees. They sway, and crackle, And arch themselves splendidly To deck your going. The white sun flips them into colour Before you. They are blue, And mauve, And emerald. They are amber, And jade, And sardonyx. They are silver fretted to flame And startled to stillness, Bunched, splintered, iridescent. You walk under the ice trees And the bright snow creaks as you step upon it.

Page  68 68 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD My dogs leap about you, And their barking strikes upon the air Like sharp hammer-strokes on metal. You walk under the ice trees But you are more dazzling than the ice flowers, And the dogs' barking Is not so loud to me as your quietness. You walk under the ice trees At ten o'clock in the morning.

Page  69 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD 69 OPAL You are ice and fire, The touch of you burns my hands like snow. You are cold and flame. You are the crimson of amaryllis, The silver of moon-touched magnolias. When I am with you, My heart is a frozen pond Gleaming with agitated torches.

Page  70 70 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD WAKEFULNESS JOLT of market-carts; Steady drip of horses' hoofs on hard pavement; A black sky lacquered over with blueness, And the lights of Battersea Bridge Pricking pale in the dawn. The beautiful hours are passing And still you sleep! Tired heart of my joy, Incurved upon your dreams, Will the day come before you have opened to me?

Page  71 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD 71 ORANGE OF MIDSUMMER You came to me in the pale starting of Spring, And I could not see the world For the blue mist of wonder before my eyes. You beckoned me over a rainbow bridge, And I set foot upon it, trembling. Through pearl and saffron I followed you, Through heliotrope and rose, Iridescence after iridescence, And to me it was all one Because of the blue mist that held my eyes. You came again, and it was red-hearted Summer. You called to me across a field of poppies and wheat, With a narrow path slicing through it Straight to an outer boundary of trees. And I ran along the path,

Page  72 72 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD Brushing over the yellow wheat beside it, And came upon you under a maple-tree, plaiting poppies for a girdle. "Are you thirsty?" 'said you, And held out a cup. But the water in the cup was scarlet and crimson Like the poppies in your hands. "It looks like blood," I said. "Like blood," you said, "Does it? But drink it, my Beloved."

Page  73 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD 73 SHORE GRASS THE moon is cold over the sand-dunes, And the clumps of sea-grasses flow and glitter; The thin chime of my watch tells the quarter after midnight; And still I hear nothing But the windy beating of the sea.

Page  74 74 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD AUTUMNAL EQUINOX WHY do you not sleep, Beloved? It is so cold that the stars stand out of the sky Like golden nails not driven home. The fire crackles pleasantly, And I sit here listening For your regular breathing from the room above. What keeps you awake, Beloved? Is it the same nightmare that keeps me strained with listening So that I cannot read?

Page  75 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD 75 THE COUNTRY HOUSE DID the door move, or was it always ajar? The gladioli on the table are pale mauve. I smell pale mauve and blue, Blue soft like bruises - putrid - oozingThe air oozes blue - mauveAnd the door with the black line where it does not shut! I must pass that door to go to bed, Or I must stay here And watch the crack Oozing air. Is it -air?

Page  76 76 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD NERVES THE lake is steel-coloured and umber, And a clutter of gaunt clouds blows rapidly across the sky. I wonder why you chose to be buried In this little grave-yard by the lake-side. It is all very well on blue mornings, Summer mornings, Autumn mornings polished with sunlight. But in Winter, in the cold storms, When there is no wind, And the snow murmurs as it falls! The grave-stones glimmer in the twilight As though they were rubbed with phosphorous. The direct road is up a hill, Through woods -

Page  77 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD 77 I will take the lake road, I can drive faster there. You used to like to drive with me Why does death make you this fearful thing? Flick! - flack! - my horse's feet strike the stones. There is a house just round the bend.

Page  78 78 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD LEFT BEHIND WHITE phlox and white hydrangeas, High, thin clouds, A low, warm sun. So it is this afternoon. But the phlox will be a drift of petals, And the hydrangeas stained and fallen Before you come again. I cannot look at the flowers, Nor the lifting leaves of the trees. Without you, there is no garden, No bright colours, No shining leaves. There is only space, Stretching endlessly forward - And I walk, bent, unseeing, Waiting to catch the first faint scuffle Of withered leaves.

Page  79 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD 79 AUTUMN THEY brought me a quilled, yellow dahlia, Opulent, flaunting. Round gold Flung out of a pale green stalk. Round, ripe gold Of maturity, Meticulously frilled and flaming, A fire-ball of proclamation: Fecundity decked in staring yellow For all the world to see. They brought a quilled, yellow dahlia, To me who am barren. Shall I send it to you, You who have taken with you All I once possessed?

Page  80 80 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD THE SIXTEENTH FLOOR THE noise of the city sounds below me. It clashes against the houses And rises like smoke through the narrow streets. It polishes the marble fronts of houses, Grating itself against them, And they shine in the lamplight And cast their echoes back upon the asphalt of the streets. But I hear no sound of your voice, The city is incoherent - trivial, And my brain aches with emptiness.

Page  81 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD 81 STRAIN IT is late And the clock is striking thin hours, But sleep has become a terror to me, Lest I wake in the night Bewildered, And stretching out my arms to comfort myself with you, Clasp instead the cold body of the darkness. All night it will hunger over me, And push and undulate against me, Breathing into my mouth And passing long fingers through my drifting hair. Only the dawn can loose me from it, And the grey streaks of morning melt it from my side. Bring many candles, Though they stab my tired brain

Page  82 82 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD And hurt it. For I am afraid of the twining of the darkness And dare not sleep.

Page  83 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD 83 HAUNTEDSEE! He trails his toes Through the long streaks of moonlight, And the nails of his fingers glitter: They claw and flash among the tree-tops. His lips suck at my open window, And his breath creeps about my body And lies in pools under my knees. I can see his mouth sway and wobble, Sticking itself against the window-jambs, But the moonlight is bright on the floor, Without a shadow. Hark! A hare is strangling in the forest, And the wind tears a shutter from the wall.

Page  84 84 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD GROTESQUE WHY do the lilies goggle their tongues at me When I pluck them; And writhe, and twist, And strangle themselves against my fingers, So that I can hardly weave the garland For your hair? Why do they shriek your name And spit at me When I would cluster them? Must I kill them To make them lie still, And send you a wreath of lolling corpses To turn putrid and soft On your forehead While you dance?

Page  85 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD SNOW IN APRIL SUNSHINE! Sunshine! Smooth blue skies, Fresh winds through early tree-tops, Pointed shoots, White bells, White and purple cups. I am a plum-tree Checked at its flowering. Mly blossoms wither, My branches grow brittle again. I stretch them out and up, But the snowflakes fall - Whirl - and fall. April and snow, And my heart stuffed and suffocating. 85

Page  86 86 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD Dead, With my blossoms brown and dropping Upon my cold roots.

Page  87 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD 87 A SPRIG OF ROSEMARY I CANNOT see your face. When I think of you, It is your hands which I see. Your hands Sewing, Holding a book, Resting for a moment on the sill of a window. My eyes keep always the sight of your hands, But my heart holds the sound of your voice, And the soft brightness which is your soul.

Page  88 88 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD MALADIE DE L'APRES-MIDI WHY does the clanking of a tip-cart In the road Make me so sad? The sound beats the air With flat blows, Dull and continued. Not even the clear sunshine Through bronze and green oak leaves, Nor the crimson spindle of a cedar-tree Hooded with Virginia creeper, Nor the humming brightness of the air, Can comfort my melancholy. The cart goes slowly, It creeps at a foot-pace,

Page  89 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD 89 And the flat blows of sound Hurt me, And bring me nearly to weeping.

Page  90 90 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD NOVEMBER THE vine leaves against the brick walls of my house Are rusty and broken. Dead leaves gather under the pine-trees, The brittle boughs of lilac-bushes Sweep against the stars. And I sit under a lamp Trying to write down the emptiness of my heart. Even the cat will not stay with me, But prefers the rain Under the meagre shelter of a cellar window.

Page  91 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD 91 NOSTALGIA "THROUGH pleasures and palaces" - Through hotels, and Pullman cars, and steamships... Pink and white camellias floating in a crystal bowl, The sharp smell of firewood, The scrape and rustle of a dog stretching himself on a hardwood floor, And your voice, reading - reading - to the slow ticking of an old brass clock.. " Tickets, please!" And I watch the man in front of me Fumbling in fourteen pockets, While the conductor balances his ticket-punch Between his fingers.

Page  92 92 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD PREPARATION TO-DAY I went into a shop where they sell spectacles. "Sir," said the shopman, "what can I do for you? Are you far-sighted or near-sighted?" "Neither the one nor the other," said I. "I can read the messages passing along the telegraph wires, And I can see the antennae of a fly Perched upon the bridge of my nose." "Rose-coloured spectacles, perhaps?" suggested the shopman. "Indeed, no," said I. "Were I to add them to my natural vision I should see everything ruined with blood."

Page  93 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD 93 "Green spectacles," opined the shopman. "By no means," said I. "I am far too prone to that colour at moments. No. You can give me some smoked glasses For I have to meet a train this afternoon." "What a world yours must be, Sir," Observed the shopman as he wrapped up the spectacles, "When it requires to be dimmed by smoked glasses." "Not a world," said I, and laid the money down on the counter, "Certainly not a world. Good-day."

Page  94 94 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD A DECADE WIEN you came, you were like red wine and honey, And the taste of you burnt my mouth with its sweetness. Now you are like morning bread, Smooth and pleasant. I hardly taste you at all for I know your savour, But I am completely nourished.

Page  95 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD 95 PENUMBRA As I sit here in the quiet Summer night, Suddenly, from the distant road, there comes The grind and rush of an electric car. And, from still farther off, An engine puffs sharply, Followed by the drawn-out shunting scrape of a freight train. These are the sounds that men make In the long business of living. They will always make such sounds, Years after I am dead and cannot hear them. Sitting here in the Summer night, I think of my death. What will it be like for you then?

Page  96 96 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD You will see my chair With its bright chintz covering Standing in the afternoon sunshine, As now. You will see my narrow table At which I have written so many hours. My dogs will push their noses into your hand, And ask- askClinging to you with puzzled eyes. The old house will still be here, The old house which has known me since the beginning. The walls which have watched me while I played: Soldiers, marbles, paper-dolls, Which have protected me and my books. The front-door will gaze down among the old trees Where, as a child, I hunted ghosts and Indians;

Page  97 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD 97 It will look out on the wide gravel sweep Where I rolled my hoop, And at the rhododendron bushes Where I caught black-spotted butterflies. The old house will guard you, As I have done. Its walls and rooms will hold you, And I shall whisper my thoughts and fancies As always, From the pages of my books. You will sit here, some quiet Summer night, Listening to the puffing trains, But you will not be lonely, For these things are a part of me. And my love will go on speaking to you Through the chairs, and the tables, and the pictures, As it does now through my voice, And the quick, necessary touch of my hand.

Page  98 98 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD FRIMAIRE DEAREST, we are like two flowers Blooming last in a yellowing garden, A purple aster flower and a red one Standing alone in a withered desolation. The garden plants are shattered and seeded, One brittle leaf scrapes against another, Fiddling echoes of a rush of petals. Now only you and I nodding together. Many were with us; they have all faded. Only we are purple and crimson, Only we in the dew-clear mornings, Smarten into colour as the sun rises. When I scarcely see you in the flat moonlight, And later when my cold roots tighten,

Page  99 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD 99 I am anxious for the morning, I cannot rest in fear of what may happen. You or I - and I am a coward. Surely frost should take the crimson. Purple is a finer colour, Very splendid in isolation. So we nod above the broken Stems of flowers almost rotted. Many mornings there cannot be now For us both. Ah, Dear, I love you!

Page  100


Page  102 I

Page  103 SOLITAIRE WHEN night drifts along the streets of the city, And sifts down between the uneven roofs, My mind begins to peek and peer. It plays at ball in old, blue Chinese gardens, And shakes wrought dice-cups in Pagan temples Amid the broken flutings of white pillars. It dances with purple and yellow crocuses in its hair, And its feet shine as they flutter over drenched grasses. How light and laughing my mind is, When all the good folk have put out their bedroom candles, And the city is still!

Page  104 104 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD THE BACK BAY FENS Study in Orange and Silver THROUGH the Spring-thickened branches I see it floating, An ivory dome Headed to gold by the dim sun. It hangs against a white-misted sky, And the swollen branches Open or cover it, As they blow in the wet wind.

Page  105 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD 105 FREE FANTASIA ON JAPANESE THEMES ALL the afternoon there hasbeen a chirping of birds, And the sun lies, warm and still, on the Western sides of puffed branches. There is no wind, Even the little twigs at the ends of the branches do not move, And the needles of the pines are solid, Bands of inarticulated blackness, Against the blue-white sky. Still - but alert - And my heart is still and alert, Passive with sunshine Avid of adventure. I would experience new emotions - Submit to strange enchantments

Page  106 106 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD Bend to influences, Bizarre, exotic, Fresh with burgeoning. I would climb a Sacred Mountain, Struggle with other pilgrims up a steep path through pine-trees Above to the smooth, treeless slopes, And prostrate myself before a painted shrine, Beating my hands upon the hot earth, Quieting my eyes with the distant sparkle Of the faint Spring sea. I would recline upon a balcony In purple curving folds of silk, And my dress should be silvered with a pattern Of butterflies and swallows, And the black band of my obi Should flash with gold, circular threads,

Page  107 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD And glitter when I moved. I would lean against the railing While you sang to me of wars - Past, and to come - Sang and played the samisen. Perhaps I would beat a little hand drum In time to your singing; Perhaps I would only watch the play of light On the hilts of your two swords. I would sit in a covered boat, Rocking slowly to the narrow waves of a river, While above us, an arc of moving lanterns, Curved a bridge. And beyond the bridge, A hiss of gold Blooming out of blackness, Rockets exploded, And died in a soft dripping of coloured stars. 107

Page  108 108 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD We would float between the high trestles, And drift away from the other boats, Until the rockets flared without sound And their falling stars hung silent in the sky Like wistaria clusters above the ancient entrance of a temple. I would anything Rather than this cold paper, With, outside, the quiet sun on the sides of burgeoning branches, And inside, only my books.

Page  109 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD 109 AT THE BOOKSELLER'S HANGING from the ceiling by threads Are prints, Hundreds of prints Of actors and courtesans, Cheap, everyday prints To delight the common people. Those which please the most are women With long, slim fingers, In dresses of snow-blue, Of green the colour of the heart of a young onion, Of rose, of black, of dead-leaf brown. Over the dresses runs a light tracing Of superimposed tissues: Orange undulations, zigzag cinnabar trellises, Patterns of purplish paulownias. In the corner of one of the prints is written: "Utamaro has here painted his elegant visage."

Page  110 110 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD They cost nothing, these pictures, They are only one of the cheap amusements of the populace, Yet they say that the publisher: Tsoutaya, Has made a fortune.

Page  111 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD 111 VIOLIN SONATA BY VINCENT D'INDY TO CHARLES MARTIN LOEFFLER A LITTLE brown room in a sea of fields, Fields pink as rose-mallows Under a fading rose-mallow sky. Four candles on a tall iron candlestick, Clustered like altar lights. Above, the models of four brown Chinese junks Sailing round the brown walls, Silent and motionless. The quick cut of a vibrating string, Another, and another, Biting into the silence. Notes pierce, sharper and sharper; They draw up in a freshness of sound,

Page  112 112 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD Higher - higher, to the whiteness of intolerable beauty. They are jagged and clear, Like snow peaks against the sky; They hurt like air too pure to breathe. Is it catgut and horsehair, Or flesh sawing against the cold blue gates of the sky? The brown Chinese junks sail silently round the brown walls. A cricket hurries across the bare floor. The windows are black, for the sun has set. Only the candles, Clustered like altar lamps upon their tall candlestick, Light the violinist as he plays.

Page  113 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD WINTER'S TURNING SNOW is still on the ground, But there is a golden brightness in the air. Across the river, Blue, Blue, Sweeping widely under the arches Of many bridges, Is a spire and a dome, Clear as though ringed with ice-flakes, Golden, and pink, and jocund. On a near-by steeple, A golden weather-cock flashes smartly, His open beak "Cock-a-doodle-dooing" Straight at the ear of Heaven. A tall apartment house, Crocus-coloured, Thrusts up from the street 113

Page  114 114 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD Like a new-sprung flower, Another street is edged and patterned With the bloom of bricks, Houses and houses of rose-red bricks, Every window a-glitter. The city is a parterre, Blowing and glowing, Alight with the wind, Washed over with gold and mercury. Let us throw up our hats, For we are past the age of balls And have none handy. Let us take hold of hands, And race along the sidewalks, And dodge the traffic in crowded streets. Let us whir with the golden spoke-wheels Of the sun. For to-morrow Winter drops into the waste-basket, And the calendar calls it March.

Page  115 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD 115 EUCHARIS AMAZONICA WAX-WHITE lilies shaped like narcissus, Frozen snow-rockets burst from a thin green stem, Your trumpets spray antennae like cold, sweet notes stabbing air. In your cups is the sharpness of winds, The white husks of your blooms crack as ice cracks, You strike against the darkness as hoar-frost patterning a window. Wax-white lilies, Eucharis lilies,

Page  116 116 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD Mary kissed your petals, And the chill of pure snow Burned her lips with its six-pointed seal.

Page  117 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD 117 THE TWO RAINS SPRING RAIN TINKLING of ankle bracelets. Dull striking Of jade and sardonyx From whirling ends of jointed circlets. SUMMER RAIN CLASHING of bronze bucklers, Screaming of horses. Red plumes of head-trappings Flashing above spears.

Page  118 118 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD GOOD GRACIOUS! THEY say there is a fairy in every streak'd tulip. I have rows and rows of them beside my door. Hoop-la! Come out, Brownie, And I will give you an emerald ear-ring! You had better come out, For to-morrow may be stormy, And I could never bring myself to part with my emerald ear-rings Unless there was a moon.

Page  119 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD 1 119 TREES THE branches of the trees lie in layers Above and behind each other, And the sun strikes on the outstanding leaves And turns them white, And they dance like a splatter of pebbles Against a green wall. The trees make a solid path leading up in the air. It looks as though I could walk upon it If I only had courage to step out of the window.

Page  120 120 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD DAWN ADVENTURE I STOOD in my window looking at the double cherry: A great height of white stillness, Underneath a sky the colour of milky grey jade. Suddenly a crow flew between me and the treeSwooping, falling, in a shadow-black curveAnd blotted himself out in the blurred branches of a leafless ash. There he stayed for some time, and I could only distinguish him by his slight moving. Then a wind caught the upper branches of the cherry, And the long, white stems nodded up and down, casually, to me in the window, Nodded - but overhead the grey jade clouds passed slowly, indifferently, toward the sea.

Page  121 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD 121 THE CORNER OF NIGHT AND MORNING CROWS are cawing over pine-trees, They are teaching their young to fly Above the tall pyramids of double cherries. Rose lustre over black lacquer - The feathers of the young birds reflect the roserising sun. Caw! Caw! I want to go to sleep, But perhaps it is better to stand in the window And watch the crows teaching their young to fly Over the pines and the pyramidal cherries, In the rose-gold light Of five o'clock on a May morning.

Page  122 122 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD BEECH, PINE, AND SUNLIGHT THE sudden April heat Stretches itself Under the smooth, leafless branches Of the beech-tree, And lies lightly Upon the great patches Of purple and white crocus With their panting, wide-open cups. A clear wind Slips through the naked beech boughs, And their shadows scarcely stir. But the pine-trees beyond sigh When it passes over them And presses back their needles, And slides gently down their stems.

Page  123 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD It is a languor of pale, south-starting sunlight Come upon a morning unawaked, And holding her drowsing.

Page  124 124 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD PLANNING THE GARDEN BRING pencils, fine pointed, For our writing must be infinitesimal; And bring sheets of paper To spread before us. Now draw the plan of our garden beds, And outline the borders and the paths Correctly. We will scatter little words Upon the paper, Like seeds about to be planted; We will fill all the whiteness With little words, So that the brown earth Shall never show between our flowers; Instead, there will be petals and greenness From April till November.

Page  125 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD 125 These narrow lines Are rose-drifted thrift, Edging the paths. And here I plant nodding columbines, With tree-tall wistarias behind them, Each stem umbrella'd in its purple fringe. Winged sweet-peas shall flutter next to pansies All down the sunny centre. Foxglove spears, Thrust back against the swaying lilac leaves, Will bloom and fade before the China asters Smear their crude colours over Autumn hazes. These double paths dividing make an angle For bushes, Bleeding hearts, I think, Their flowers jigging Like little ladies, Satined, hoop-skirted, Ready for a ball.

Page  126 126 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD The round black circles Mean striped and flaunting tulips, The clustered trumpets of yellow jonquils, And the sharp blue of hyacinths and squills. These specks like dotted grain Are coreopsis, bright as bandanas, And ice-blue heliotrope with its sticky leaves, And mignonette Whose sober-coloured cones of bloom Scent quiet mornings. And poppies! Poppies! Poppies! The hatchings shall all mean a tide of poppies, Crinkled and frail and flowing in the breeze. Wait just a moment, Here's an empty space. Now plant me lilies-of-the-valley - This pear-tree over them will keep them cool

Page  127 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD 127 We'll have a lot of them With white bells jingling. The steps Shall be all soft with stone-crop; And at the top I'll make an arch of roses, Crimson, Bee-enticing. There, it is done; Seal up the paper. Let us go to bed and dream of flowers.

Page  128 128 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD IMPRESSIONIST PICTURE OF A GARDEN GIVE me sunlight, cupped in a paint brush, And smear the red of peonies Over my garden. Splash blue upon it, The hard blue of Canterbury bells, Paling through larkspur Into heliotrope, To wash away among forget-me-nots. Dip red again to mix a purple, And lay on pointed flares of lilacs against bright green. Streak yellow for nasturtiums and marsh marigolds And flame it up to orange for my lilies. Now dot it so - and so - along an edge Of Iceland poppies. Swirl it a bit, and faintly,

Page  129 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD That is honeysuckle. Now put a band of brutal, bleeding crimson And tail it off to pink, to give the roses. And while you're loaded up with pink, Just blotch about that bed of phlox. Fill up with cobalt and dash in a sky As hot and heavy as you can make it; Then tree-green pulled up into that Gives a fine jolt of colour. Strain it out, And melt your twigs into the cobalt sky. Toss on some Chinese white to flash the clouds, And trust the sunlight you've got in your paint. There is the picture. 129

Page  130 130 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD A BATHER After a Picture by Andreas Zorn THICK dappled by circles of sunshine and fluttering shade, Your bright, naked body advances, blown over by leaves, Half-quenched in their various green, just a point of you showing, A knee or a thigh, sudden glimpsed, then at once blotted into The filmy and flickering forest, to start out again Triumphant in smooth, supple roundness, edged sharp as white ivory, Cool, perfect, with rose rarely tinting your lips and your breasts, Swelling out from the green in the opulent curves of ripe fruit,

Page  131 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD 131 And hidden, like fruit, by the swift intermittence of leaves. So, clinging to branches and moss, you advance on the ledges Of rock which hang over the stream, with the woodsmells about you, The pungence of strawberry plants, and of gumoozing spruces, While below runs the water, impatient, impatient - to take you, To splash you, to run down your sides, to sing you of deepness, Of pools brown and golden, with brown-and-gold flags on their borders, Of blue, lingering skies floating solemnly over your beauty, Of undulant waters a-sway in the effort to hold you, To keep you submerged and quiescent while over you glories

Page  132 1.32 9 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD The Summer. Oread, Dryad, or Naiad, or just Woman, clad only in youth and in gallant perfection, Standing up in a great burst of sunshine, you dazzle my eyes Like a snow-star, a moon, your effulgence burns up in a halo, For you are the chalice which holds all the races of men. You slip into the pool and the water folds over your shoulder, And over the tree-tops the clouds slowly follow your swimming, And the scent of the woods is sweet on this hot Summer morning.

Page  133 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD 133 DOG-DAYS A LADDER sticking up at the open window, The top of an old ladder; And all of Summer is there. Great waves and tufts of wistaria surge across the window, And a thin, belated blossom Jerks up and down in the sunlight; Purple translucence against the blue sky. "Tie back this branch," I say, But my hands are sticky with leaves, And my nostrils widen to the smell of crushed green. The ladder moves uneasily at the open window, And I call to the man beneath, "Tie back that branch." There is a ladder leaning against the window-sill, And a mutter of thunder in the air,

Page  134 134 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD AUGUST LATE AFTERNOON SMOKE-COLOUR, rose, saffron, With a hard edge chipping the blue sky, A great cloud hung over the village, And the white-painted meeting-house, And the steeple with the gilded weather-cock Heading and flashing to the wind.

Page  135 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD 135 HILLY COUNTRY JANGLE of cow-bells through pine-trees. Grasshoppers leaping up out of the grass. The mountain is bloomed like a grape (Silver, hazing over purple), It blocks into the sky like a shadow. The South wind blows intermittently, And the clanking of the cow-bells comes up the hill in gusts.

Page  136 136 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD TREES IN WINTER PINE-TREES: Black clouds slowly swaying Over a white earth. HEMLOCKS: Coned green shadows Through a falling veil. ELM-TREES: Stiff black threads Lacing over silver. CEDARS: Layered undulations Roofing naked ground.

Page  137 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD 137 ALMONDS: Flaring needles Stabbing at a grey sky. WEEPING CHERRIES: Tossing smoke Swept down by wind. OAKS: Twisted beams Cased in alabaster.

Page  138 138 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD SEA COAL SWIFT like the tongues of lilies, Striped Amaryllis Thrusting out of cloven basalt. Amber and chalcedony, And the snapping of sand On rocks Glazed by the wind.

Page  139 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD 139 DOLPHINS IN BLUE WATER HEY! Crackerjack - jump! Blue water, Pink water, Swirl, flick, flitter; Snout into a wave-trough, Plunge, curl. Bow over, Under, Razor-cut and tumble. Roll, turn - Straight - and shoot at the sky, All rose-flame drippings. Down ring, Drop, Nose under, Hoop,

Page  140 140 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD Tail, Dive, And gone; With smooth over-swirlings of blue water, Oil-smooth cobalt, Slipping, liquid lapis lazuli, Emerald shadings, Tintings of pink and ochre. Prismatic slidings Underneath a windy sky.

Page  141 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD 141 MOTOR LIGHTS ON A HILL ROAD YELLOW-GREEN, yellow-green, yellow-green and silver, Rimple of leaves, Blowing, Passing, Flowing overhead, Arched leaves, Silver of twisted leaves; Fan-like yellow glare On tree-trunks. Fluted side wake Breaking from one polished stem to another. Swift drop on a disappearing road, Jolt - a wooden bridge, And a flat sky opens in front. Above The wide sky careers furiously past a still moon.

Page  142 14 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD Suddenly - Slap! - green, yellow, Leaves and no moon. Ribbed leaves, Chamfered light patterns Playing on a pleaching of leaves. Wind, Strong, rushing, Continuous, like the leaves. Wind sliding beside us, Meeting us, Pointing against us through a yellow-green tunnel. Dot... Dot... Dot... Little square lights of windows, Black walls stamping into silver mist, Shingle roofs aflame like mica. Elliptical cutting curve Round a piazza where rocking-chairs creak emptily. Square white fences Chequer-boarding backwards.

Page  143 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD 143 Plunge at a black hill, Flash into water-waving fluctuations. Leaves gush out of the darkness And boil past in yellow-green curds: We slip between them with the smoothness of oil. Hooped yellow light spars Banding green Glide toward us, Impinge upon our progress, Open and let us through. Liquid leaves lap the wheels, Toss, Splash, Disappear. Green and yellow water-slopes hang over us, Close behind us, Push us forward. We are the centre of a green and yellow bubble, Changing,

Page  144 144 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD Expanding, Skimming over the face of the world - Green and yellow, occasionally tinged with silver.


Page  146 dI

Page  147 IN A TIME OF DEARTH BEFORE me, On either side of me, I see sand. If I turn the corner of my house I see sand. Long - brown - Lines and levels of flat Sand. If I could see a caravan Heave over the edge of it: The camels wobbling and swaying, Stepping like ostriches, With rocking palanquins Whose curtains conceal Languors and faintnesses,

Page  148 148 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD Muslins tossed aside, And a disorder of cushions. The swinging curtains would pique and'solace me. But I only see sand, Long, brown sand, Sand. If I could see a herd of Arab horses Galloping, Their manes and tails pulled straight By the speed of their going; Their bodies sleek and round Like bellying sails. They would beat the sand with their fore-feet, And scatter it with their hind-feet, So that it whirled in a cloud of orange, And the sun through it Was clip-edged, without rays - and dun.

Page  149 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD 149 But I only see sand, Long, brown, hot sand, Sand. If I could see a mirage Blue-white at the horizon, With palm-trees about it; Tall, windless palm-trees, grouped about a glitter. If I could strain towards it, And think of the water creeping round my ankles, Tickling under my knees, Leeching up my sides, Spreading over my back! But I only feel the grinding beneath my feet. And I only see sand, Long, dry sand, Scorching sand, Sand.

Page  150 150 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD If a sand-storm would come And spit against my windows, Snapping upon them, and ringing their vibrations; Swirling over the roof, Seeping under the door-jamb, Suffocating me and making me struggle for air. But I only see sand, Sand lying dead in the sun, Lines and lines of sand, Sand. I will paste newspapers over the windows to shut out the sand, I will fit them into one another, and fasten the corners. Then I will strike matches And read of politics, and murders, and festivals, Three years old.

Page  151 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD 151 But I shall not see the sand any more And I can read While my matches last.

Page  152 152 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD ALIENS THE chatter of little people Breaks on my purpose Like the water-drops which slowly wear the rocks to powder. And while I laugh My spirit crumbles at their teasing touch.

Page  153 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD 153 MIDDLE AGE LIKE black ice Scrolled over with unintelligible patterns by an ignorant skater Is the dulled surface of my heart.

Page  154 154 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD LA VIE DE BOHEME ALONE, I whet my soul against the keen Unwrinkled sky, with its long stretching blue. I polish it with sunlight and pale dew, And damascene it with young blowing leaves. Into the handle of my life I set Sprays of mignonette And periwinkle, Twisted into sheaves. The colours laugh and twinkle. Twined bands of roadways, liquid in the sheen Of street lamps and the ruby shine of cabs, Glisten for my delight all down its length; And there are sudden sparks Of morning ripplings over tree-fluttered pools. My soul is fretted full of gleams and darks, Pulsing and still.

Page  155 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD 155 Smooth-edged, untarnished, girded in my soul I walk the world. But in its narrow alleys, The low-hung, dust-thick valleys Where the mob shuffles its empty tread, My soul is blunted against dullard wits, Smeared with sick juices, Nicked impotent for other than low uses. Its arabesques and sparkling subtleties Crusted to grey, and all its changing surfaces Spread with unpalpitant monotonies. I re-create myself upon the polished sky: A honing-strop above converging roofs. The patterns show again, like buried proofs Of old, lost empires bursting on the eye In hieroglyphed and graven splendour.

Page  156 156 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD The whirling winds brush past my head, And prodigal once more, a reckless spender Of disregarded beauty, a defender Of undesired faiths, I walk the world.

Page  157 PICTURES Of THE FLOATING WORLD 15t FLAME APPLES LITTLE hot apples of fire, Burst out of the flaming stem Of my heart, I do not understand how you quickened and grew, And you amaze me While I gather you. I lay you, one by one, Upon a table. And now you seem beautiful and strange to me, And I stand before you, Wondering.

Page  158 158 PICTURES Oi THE FLOATING WORLb THE TRAVELLING BEAR GRASS-BLADES push up between the cobblestones And catch the sun on their flat sides Shooting it back, Gold and emerald, Into the eyes of passers-by. And over the cobblestones, Square-footed and heavy, Dances the trained bear. The cobbles cut his feet, And he has a ring in his nose Which hurts him; But still he dances, For the keeper pricks him with a sharp stick, Under his fur.

Page  159 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD 159 Now the crowd gapes and chuckles, And boys and young women shuffle their feet in time to the dancing bear. They see him wobbling Against a dust of emerald and gold, And they are greatly delighted. The legs of the bear shake with fatigue, And his back aches, And the shining grass-blades dazzle and confuse him. But still he dances, Because of the little, pointed stick.

Page  160 160 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD MERCHANDISE I MADE a song one morning, Sitting in the shade under the hornbeam hedge. I played it on my pipe, And the clear notes delighted me, And the little hedge-sparrows and the chipmunks Also seemed pleased. So I was very proud That I had made so good a song. Would you like to hear my song? I will play it to you As I did that evening to my Beloved, Standing on the moon-bright cobbles Underneath her window. But you are not my Beloved, You must give me a silver shilling,

Page  161 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD 161 Round and glittering like the moon. Copper I will not take, How should copper pay for a song All made out of nothing, And so beautiful!

Page  162 162 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD THE POEM IT is only a little twig With a green bud at the end; But if you plant it, And water it, And set it where the sun will be above it, It will grow into a tall bush With many flowers, And leaves which thrust hither and thither Sparkling. From its roots will come freshness, And beneath it the grass-blades Will bend and recover themselves, And clash one upon another In the blowing wind. But if you take my twig And throw it into a closet

Page  163 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD 163 With mousetraps and blunted tools, It will shrivel and waste. And, some day, When you open the door, You will think it an old twisted nail, And sweep it into the dust bin With other rubbish.

Page  164 164 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD THE PEDDLER OF FLOWERS I CAME from the country With flowers, Larkspur and roses, Fretted lilies In their leaves, And long, cool lavender. I carried them From house to house, And cried them Down hot streets. The sun fell Upon my flowers, And the dust of the streets Blew over my basket.

Page  165 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD 165 That night I slept upon the open seats Of a circus, Where all day long People had watched The antics Of a painted clown.

Page  166 166 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD BALLS THROW the blue ball above the little twigs of the tree-tops, And cast the yellow ball straight at the buzzing stars. All our life is a flinging of coloured balls to impossible distances. And in the end what have we? A tired arm - a tip-tilted nose. Ah! Well! Give me the purple one. Wouldn't it be a fine thing if I could make it stick On top of the Methodist steeple?

Page  167 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD 167 THE FANATIC LIKE Don Quixote, I tilted at a windmill. On my good, grey horse I spurred at it, Galloping heavily over the plain. My lance pierced the framework of a sail and stuck there, And the impact sent me sprawling on the ground. My horse wandered away, cropping, But I started up and fell upon the windmill, With my dagger unsheathed. Valiantly I stabbed a dipping sail, But it rose before I could withdraw the weapon, And the blade went up with it, gleaming - flickering. Then I drew a pistol, For I am an up-to-date knight

Page  168 168 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD And my armory unrivalled. I aimed above me, At the sky between two sails. Ping! went the bullet, And a round, blue eye peeked at me through the wheeling sail. I fired again - Two eyes winked at me, jeering. Then I ran at the windmill with my fists, But it struck me down and left me. All night I lay there, And the great sails turned about and about, And brushed me with their shadows, For there was a moon.

Page  169 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD 169 FIREWORKS You hate me and I hate you, And we are so polite, we two! But whenever I see you, I burst apart And scatter the sky with my blazing heart. It spits and sparkles in stars and balls, Buds into roses -and flares, and falls. Scarlet buttons, and pale green disks, Silver spirals and asterisks, Shoot and tremble in a mist Peppered with mauve and amethyst. I shine in the windows and light up the trees, And all because I hate you, if you please.

Page  170 170 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD And when you meet me, you rend asunder And go up in a flaming wonder Of saffron cubes, and crimson moons, And wheels all amaranths and maroons. Golden lozenges and spades, Arrows of malachites and jades, Patens of copper, azure sheaves. As you mount, you flash in the glossy leaves. Such fireworks as we make, we two! Because you hate me and I hate you.

Page  171 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD 171 TRADES I WANT to be a carpenter, To work all day long in clean wood, Shaving it into little thin slivers Which screw up into curls behind my plane; Pounding square, black nails into white boards, With the claws of my hammer glistening Like the tongue of a snake. I want to shingle a house, Sitting on the ridge-pole in a bright breeze. I want to put the shingles on neatly, Taking great care that each is directly between two others. I want my hands to have the tang of wood: Spruce, Cedar, Cypress. I want to draw a line on a board with a flat pencil, And then saw along that line,

Page  172 172 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD With the sweet-smelling sawdust piling up in a yellow heap at my feet. That is the life! Heigh-ho! It is much easier than to write this poem.

Page  173 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD 173 GENERATIONS You are like the stem Of a young beech-tree, Straight and swaying, Breaking out in golden leaves. Your walk is like the blowing of a beech-tree On a hill. Your voice is like leaves Softly struck upon by a South wind. Your shadow is no shadow, but a scattered sunshine; And at night you pull the sky down to you And hood yourself in stars. But I am like a great oak under a cloudy sky, Watching a stripling beech grow up at my feet.

Page  174 174 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD ENTENTE CORDIALE THE young gentleman from the foreign nation Sat on the sofa and smiled. He stayed for two hours and I talked to him. He answered agreeably, He was very precise, very graceful, very enthusiastic. I thought: Is it possible that there are no nations, only individuals? That it is the few who give gold and flowers, While the many have only copper So worn that even the stamp is obliterated? I talked to the young gentleman from the foreign nation, And the faint smell of copper assailed my nostrils: Copper, Twisted copper coins dropped by old women Into the alms-boxes of venerable churches.

Page  175 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD 175 CASTLES IN SPAIN I BUILD my poems with little strokes of ink Drawn shining down white paper, line and line, And there is nothing here which men call fine, Nothing but hieroglyphs to make them think. I have no broad and blowing plain to link And loop with aqueducts, no golden mine To crest my pillars, no bright twisted vine Which I can train about a fountain's brink. Those others laced their poems from sea to sea And floated navies over fields of grain, They fretted their full fancies in strong stone And struck them on the sky. And yet I gain; For bombs and bullets cannot menace me, Who have no substance to be overthrown. Cathedrals crash to rubbish, but my towers, Carved in the whirling and enduring brain, Fade, and persist, and rise again, like flowers.

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Page  178

Page  179 ELY CATHEDRAL ANZEMIC women, stupidly dressed and shod In squeaky shoes, thump down the nave to laud an expurgated God. Bunches of lights reflect upon the pavement where The twenty benches stop, and through the close, smelled-over air Gaunt arches push up their whited stones, And cover the sparse worshippers with dead men's bones. Behind his shambling choristers, with flattened feet And red-flapped hood, the Bishop walks, complete In old, frayed ceremonial. The organ wheezes A mouldy psalm-tune, and a verger sneezes.

Page  180 180 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD But the great Cathedral spears into the sky Shouting for joy. What is the red-flapped Bishop praying for, by the by?

Page  181 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD 181 WILLIAM BLAKE HE said he saw the spangled wings of angels In a tree at Peckham Rye, And Elija walking in the haying-fields; So they beat him for his lies, And 'prenticed him to an engraver. Now his books sell for broad, round, golden guineas. That's a bouncing turn of Fortune! But we have the guineas, Since our fathers were thrifty men And knew the value of gold.

Page  182 182 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD AN INCIDENT WILLIAM BLAKE and Catherine Bourchier were married in the newly rebuilt Church of Battersea where the windows were beautifully painted to imitate real stained glass. Pigments or crystal, what did it matter- when Jehovah sat on a cloud of curled fire over the door-way, And angels with silver trumpets played Hosannas under the wooden groins of the peaked roof! William and Catherine Blake left the painted windows behind in the newly rebuilt Church of Battersea, But God and the angels went out with them; And the angels played, on their trumpets under the plaster ceiling of their lodging,

Page  183 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD 183 Morning, and evening, and morning, forty-five round years. Has the paint faded in the windows of Battersea Church, I wonder?

Page  184 184 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD PEACH-COLOUR TO A SOAP-BUBBLE A MAN made a symphony Out of the chords of his soul. The notes ran upon the air like flights of chickadees, They gathered together and hung As bees above a syringa bush, They crowded and clicked upon one another In a flurry of progression, And crashed in the simultaneous magnificence Of a grand finale. All this he heard, But the neighbors heard only the croak Of a wheezy, second-hand flageolet. Forced to seek another lodging He took refuge under the arch of a bridge, For the river below him might be convenient Some day.

Page  185 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD 185 PYROTECHNICS I OUR meeting was like the upward swish of a rocket In the blue night. I do not know when it burst; But now I stand gaping, In a glory of falling stars. Hola! Hola! shouts the crowd, as the catharinewheels sputter and turn. Hola! They cheer the flower-pots and set pieces. And nobody heeds the cries of a young man in shirtsleeves, Who has burnt his fingers setting them off.

Page  186 186 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD m A King and Queen, and a couple of Generals, Flame in coloured lights, Putting out the stars, And making a great glare over the people wandering among the booths. They are very beautiful and impressive, And all the people say "Ah!" By and by they begin to go out, Little by little. The King's crown goes first, Then his eyes, Then his nose and chin. The Queen goes out from the bottom up, Until only the topmost jewel of her tiara is left. Then that too goes; And there is nothing but a frame of twisted wires, With the stars twinkling through it.

Page  187 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD 187 THE BOOKSHOP PIERROT had grown old. He wore spectacles And kept a shop. Opium and hellebore He sold Between the covers of books, And perfumes distilled from the veins of old ivory, And poisons drawn from lotus seeds one hundred years withered And thinned to the translucence of alabaster. He sang a pale song of repeated cadenzas In a voice cold as flutes And shrill as desiccated violins. I stood before the shop, Fingering the comfortable vellum of an ancient volume,

Page  188 188 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD Turning over its leaves, And the dead moon looked over my shoulder And fell with a green smoothness upon the page. I read: "I am the Lord thy God, thou shalt have none other gods but me." Through the door came a chuckle of laughter Like the tapping of unstrung kettledrums, For Pierrot had ceased singing for a moment To watch me reading.

Page  189 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD 189 GARGOYLES A COMEDY OF OPPOSITIONS THIMBLE-RIG on a village green, Snake-charmers under a blue tent Winding drugged sausage-bellies through thin arms. Hiss Of a yellow and magenta shawl On a platform Above trombones. Tree lights Drip cockatoos of colour On broadest shoulders, Dead eyes swim to a silver fish. Gluttonous hands tear at apron strings, Reach at the red side of an apple, Slide under ice-floes,

Page  190 190 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD And waltz clear through to the tropics To sit among cocoanuts And caress bulbous negresses with loquats in their hair. A violin scorching on an F-sharp exit. Stamp. Stop. Hayricks, and panting, Noon roses guessed under calico - A budded thorn-bush swinging Against a smoke-dawn. Hot pressing on sweet straw, Laughs like whales floundering across air circles, Wallows of smoothness, Loose muscles dissolved upon lip-brushings, Languid fluctuations, Sleep oozing over wet flesh, Cooling under the broad end of an angled shadow.

Page  191 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD 191 Absurd side-wiggle of geese before elephants; A gold leopard snarls at a white-nosed donkey; Panther-purrs rouse childhood to an edge of contortion; Trumpets brawl beneath an oscillation of green balloons. Why blow apple-blossoms into wind-dust? Why drop a butterfly down the throat of a pig? Timid shrinkings of a scarlet-runner bean From pumpkin roughnesses. Preposterous clamour of a cock for a tulip. If your flesh is cold Warm it on tea-pots And let them be of Dresden china With a coreopsis snarled in the handle. Horse-bargainings do not become temples, And sarabands are not danced on tea-trays of German silver.

Page  192 192 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD Thin drums flatten the uprightness of distance, A fading of drums shows lilac on the fallen beech leaves. Emptiness of drums. Nothing. Burr of a rising moon.

Page  193 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD 193 TO WINKY CAT, Cat, What are you? Son, through a thousand generations, of the black leopards Padding among the sprigs of young bamboo; Descendant of many removals from the white panthers Who crouch by night under the loquat-trees? You crouch under the orange begonias, And your eyes are green With the violence of murder, Or half-closed and stealthy Like your sheathed claws. Slowly, slowly, You rise and stretch

Page  194 194 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD In a glossiness of beautiful curves, Of muscles fluctuating under black, glazed hair. Cat, You are a strange creature. You sit on your haunches And yawn, But when you leap I can almost hear the whine Of a released string, And I look to see its flaccid shaking In the place whence you sprang. You carry your tail as a banner, Slowly it passes my chair, But when I look for you, you are on the table Moving easily among the most delicate porcelains. Your food is a matter of importance And you are insistent on having

Page  195 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD 195 Your wants attended to, And yet you will eat a bird and its feathers Apparently without injury. In the night, I hear you crying, But if I try to find you There are only the shadows of rhododendron leaves Brushing the ground. When you come in out of the rain, All wet and with your tail full of burrs, You fawn upon me in coils and subtleties; But once you are dry You leave me with a gesture of inconceivable impudence, Conveyed by the vanishing quirk of your tail As you slide through the open door. You walk as a king scorning his subjects; You flirt with me as a concubine in robes of silk.

Page  196 196 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD Cat, I am afraid of your poisonous beauty; I have seen you torturing a mouse. Yet when you lie purring in my lap I forget everything but how soft you are, And it is only when I feel your claws open upon my hand That I remember Remember a puma lying out on a branch above my head Years ago. Shall I choke you, Cat, Or kiss you? Really I do not know.

Page  197 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD CHOPIN THE cat and I Together in the sultry night Waited. He greatly desired a mouse; I, an idea. Neither ambition was gratified. So we watched In a stiff and painful expectation. Little breezes pattered among the trees, And thin stars ticked at us Faintly, Exhausted pulses Squeezing through mist. Those others, I said! And my mind rang hollow as I tapped it. Winky, I said, 197

Page  198 198 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD Do all other cats catch their mice? * * * It was low and long, Ivory white, with doors and windows blotting blue upon it. Wind choked in pomegranate-trees, Rain rattled on lead roofs, And stuttered along twisted conduit-pipes. An eagle screamed out of the heavy sky, And some one in the house screamed "Ah, I knew that you were dead!" So that was it: Funeral chants, And the icy cowls of buried monks; Organs on iron midnights, And long wax winding-sheets Guttered from altar candles.

Page  199 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD 199 First this, Then spitting blood. Music quenched in blood, Flights of arpeggios confused by blood, Flute-showers of notes stung and arrested on a sharp chord, Tangled in a web of blood. "I cannot send you the manuscripts, as they are not yet finished. I have been ill as a dog. My illness has had a pernicious effect on the Preludes Which you will receive God knows when." * * * He bore it. Therefore, Winky, drink some milk And leave the mouse until to-morrow. There are no blood-coloured pomegranate flowers

Page  200 200 PICTURES OF TIE FLOATING WORLD Hurling their petals in at the open window, But you can sit in my lap And blink at a bunch of cinnamon-eyed coreopsis While I pull your ears In the manner which you find so infinitely agreeable.

Page  201 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD 201 APPULDURCOMBE PARK I AM a woman, sick for passion, Sitting under the golden beech-trees. I am a woman, sick for passion, Crumbling the beech leaves to powder in my fingers. The servants say: "Yes, my Lady," and "No, my Lady." And all day long my husband calls me From his invalid chair: "Mary, Mary, where are you, Mary? I want you." Why does he want me? When I come, he only pats my hand And asks me to settle his cushions. Poor little beech leaves, Slowly falling, Crumbling, In the great park.

Page  202 .202 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD But there are many golden beech leaves And I am alone. I am a woman, sick for passion, Walking between rows of painted tulips. Parrot flowers, toucan-feathered flowers, How bright you are! You hurt me with your colours, Your reds and yellows lance at me like flames. Oh, I am sick - sick And your darting loveliness hurts my heart. You burn me with your parrot-tongues. Flame! Flame! My husband taps on the window with his stick: "Mary, come in. I want you. You will take cold." I am a woman, sick for passion, Gazing at a white moon hanging over tall lilies.

Page  203 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD 203 The lilies sway and darken, And a wind ruffles my hair. There is a scrape of gravel behind me, A red coat crashes scarlet against the lilies. "Cousin-Captain! I thought you were playing piquet with Sir Kenelm." "Piquet, Dear Heart! And such a moon!" Your red coat chokes me, Cousin-Captain. Blood-colour, your coat: I am sick - sick - for your heart. Keep away from me, Cousin-Captain. Your scarlet coat dazzles and confuses me. O heart of red blood, what shall I do! Even the lilies blow for the bee. Does your heart beat so loud, Beloved? No, it is the tower-clock chiming eleven. I must go in and give my husband his posset. I hear him calling: "Mary, where are you? I want you."

Page  204 204 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD I am a woman, sick for passion, Waiting in the long, black room for the funeral procession to pass. I sent a messenger to town last night. When will you come? Under my black dress a rose is blooming. A rose?- a heart? — it rustles for you with open petals. Come quickly, Dear, For the corridors are full of noises. In this fading light I hear whispers, And the steady, stealthy purr of the wind. What keeps you, Cousin-Captain?... What was that? "Mary, I want you." Nonsense, he is dead, Buried by now. Oh, I am sick of these long, cold corridors!

Page  205 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD Sick - for what? Why do you not come? I am a woman, sick - sickSick of the touch of cold paper, Poisoned with the bitterness of ink. Snowflakes hiss, and scratch the windows. "Mary, where are you?" That voice is like water in my ears; I cannot empty them. He wanted me, my husband, But these stone parlours do not want me. You do not want me either, Cousin-Captain. Your coat lied, Only your white sword spoke the truth. "Mary! Mary!" Will nothing stop the white snow Sifting, Sifting? 205

Page  206 206 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD Will nothing stop that voice, Drifting through the wide, dark halls? The tower-clock strikes eleven dully, stifled with snow. Softly over the still snow, Softly over the lonely park, Softly... Yes, I have only my slippers, but I shall not take cold. A little dish of posset. Do the dead eat? I have done it so long, So strangely long.

Page  207 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD 207 THE BROKEN FOUNTAIN OBLONG, its jutted ends rounding into circles, The old sunken basin lies with its flat, marble lip An inch below the terrace tiles. Over the stagnant water Slide reflections: The blue-green of coned yews; The purple and red of trailing fuchsias Dripping out of marble urns; Bright squares of sky Ribbed by the wake of a swimming beetle. Through the blue-bronze water Wavers the pale uncertainty of a shadow. An arm flashes through the reflections, A breast is outlined with leaves. Outstretched in the quiet water The statue of a Goddess slumbers.

Page  208 208 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD But when Autumn comes The beech leaves cover her with a golden counterpane.

Page  209 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD 209 THE DUSTY HOUR-GLASS IT had been a trim garden, With parterres of fringed pinks and gillyflowers, and smooth-raked walks. Silks and satins had brushed the box edges of its alleys. The curved stone lips of its fishponds had held the rippled reflections of tricorns and powdered periwigs. The branches of its trees had glittered with lanterns, and swayed to the music of flutes and violins. Now, the fishponds are green with scum; The paths and flower-beds are run together and overgrown. Only at one end is an octagonal Summer-house not yet in ruins.

Page  210 210 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD Through the lozenged panes of its windows, you can see the interior: A dusty bench; a fireplace with a lacing of letters carved in the stone above it; A broken ball of worsted rolled away into a corner. Dolci, dolci, i giorni passati I

Page  211 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD 211 THE FLUTE "STOP! What are you doing?" "Playing on an old flute." "That's Heine's flute - you mustn't touch ito" "Why not, if I can make it sound." "I don't know why not, but you mustn't." "I don't believe I can — much. It's full of dust. Still, listen: The rose moon whitens the lifting leaves. Heigh-o! The nightingale sings! Through boughs and branches the moon-thread weaves. Ancient as time are these midnight things. The nightingale's notes over-bubble the night. Heigh-o! Yet the night is so big

Page  212 212 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD He stands on his nest in a wafer of light, And the nest was once a philosopher's wig. Moon-sharp needles, and dew on the grass. Heigh-o! It flickers, the breeze! Kings, philosophers, periwigs pass; Nightingale eggs hatch under the trees. Wigs, and pigs, and kings, and courts. Heigh-o! Rain on the flower! The old moon thinks her white, bright thoughts, And trundles away before the shower. "Well, you got it to play." "Yes, a little. And it has lovely silver mountings."

Page  213 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD 213 FLOTSAM SHE sat in a Chinese wicker chair Wide at the top like a spread peacock's tail, And toyed with a young man's heart which she held lightly in her fingers. She tapped it gently, Held it up to the sun and looked through it, Strung it on a chain of seed-pearls and fastened it about her neck, Tossed it into the air and caught it, Deftly, as though it were a ball. Before her on the grass sat the young man. Sometimes he felt an ache where his heart had been, But he brushed it aside. He was intent on gazing, and had no time for anything else. Presently she grew tired and handed him back his heart,

Page  214 214 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD But he only laid it on the ground beside him And went on gazing. When the maidservant came to tidy up, She found the heart on the grass. "What a pretty thing," said the maidservant, "It is red as a ruby!" So she picked it up, And carried it into the house, And ran a ribbon through it, And hung it on the looking-glass in her bedroom. There it hung for many days, Banging back and forth as the wind blew it.

Page  215 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD 215 LITTLE IVORY FIGURES PULLED WITH STRING Is it the tinkling of mandolins which disturbs you? Or the dropping of bitter-orange petals among the coffee-cups? Or the slow creeping of the moonlight between the olive-trees? Drop I drop I the rain Upon the thin plates of my heart. String your blood to chord with this music, Stir your heels upon the cobbles to the rhythm of a dance-tune. They have slim thighs and arms of silver; The moon washes away their garments; They make a pattern of fleeing feet in the branch shadows,

Page  216 216 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD And the green grapes knotted about them Burst as they press against one another. The rain knocks upon the plates of my heart, They are crumpled with its beating. Would you drink only from your brains, Old Man? See, the moonlight has reached your knees, It falls upon your head in an accolade of silver. Rise up on the music, Fling against the moon-drifts in a whorl of young light bodies: Leaping grape-clusters, Vine leaves tearing from a grey wall. You shall run, laughing, in a braid of women, And weave flowers with the frosty spines of thorns. Why do you gaze into your glass, And jar the spoons with your finger-tapping? The rain is rigid on the plates of my heart. The murmur of it is loud - loud.

Page  217 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD 217 ON THE MANTELPIECE A THOUSAND years went to her making, A thousand years of experiments in pastes and glazes. But now she stands In all the glory of the finest porcelain and the most delicate paint, A Dresden china shepherdess, Flaunted before a tall mirror On a high mantelpiece. "Beautiful shepherdess, I love the little pink rosettes on your shoes, The angle of your hat sets my heart a-singing. Drop me the purple rose you carry in your hand That I may cherish it, And that, at my death, Which I feel is not far off, It may lie upon my bier."

Page  218 218 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD So the shepherdess threw the purple rose over the mantelpiece, But it splintered in fragments on the hearth. Then from below there came a sound of weeping, And the shepherdess beat her hands And cried: "My purple rose is broken, It was the flower of my heart." And she jumped off the mantelpiece And was instantly shattered into seven hundred and twenty pieces. But the little brown cricket who sang so sweetly Scuttled away into a crevice of the marble And went on warming his toes and chirping.


Page  220 II

Page  221 MISERICORDIA HE earned his bread by making wooden soldiers, With beautiful golden instruments, Riding dapple-grey horses. But when he heard the fanfare of trumpets And the long rattle of drums As the army marched out of the city, He took all his soldiers And burned them in the grate; And that night he fashioned a ballet-dancer Out of tinted tissue-paper, And the next day he started to carve a Pieta On the steel hilt Of a cavalry sword.

Page  222 222 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD DREAMS IN WAR TIME I I WANDERED through a house of many rooms. It grew darker and darker, Until, at last, I could only find my way By passing my fingers along the wall. Suddenly my hand shot through an open window, And the thorn of a rose I could not see Pricked it so sharply That I cried aloud. II I dug a grave under an oak-tree. With infinite care, I stamped my spade. Into the heavy grass. The sod sucked it, And I drew it out with effort,

Page  223 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD Watching the steel run liquid in the moonlight As it came clear. I stooped, and dug, and never turned, For behind me, On the dried leaves, My own face lay like a white pebble, Waiting. HIII I gambled with a silver money. The dried seed-vessels of "honesty" Were stacked in front of me. Dry, white years slipping through my fingers One by one. One by one, gathered by the Croupier. "Faites vos jeux, Messieurs." I staked on the red, And the black won. Dry years,

Page  224 224 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD Dead years; But I had a system, I always staked on the red. IV I painted the leaves of bushes red And shouted: "Fire! Fire!" But the neighbors only laughed. "We cannot warm our hands at them," they said. Then they cut down my bushes, And made a bonfire, And danced about it. But I covered my face and wept, For ashes are not beautiful Even in the dawn. V I followed a procession of singing girls Who danced to the glitter of tambourines.

Page  225 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD Where the street turned at a lighted corner, I caught the purple dress of one of the dancers, But, as I grasped it, it tore, And the purple dye ran from it Like blood Upon the ground. VI I wished to post a letter, But although I paid much, Still the letter was overweight. "What is in this package?" said the clerk, " It is very heavy." "Yes," I said, "And yet it is only a dried fruit." VII I had made a kite, On it I had pasted golden stars

Page  226 226 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD And white torches, And the tail was spotted scarlet like a tiger-lily, And very long. I flew my kite, And my soul was contented Watching it flash against the concave of the sky. My friends pointed at the clouds; They begged me to take in my kite. But I was happy Seeing the mirror shock of it Against the black clouds. Then the lightning came And struck the kite. It puffed - blazed - fell. But still I walked on, In the drowning rain, Slowly winding up the string.

Page  227 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD 227 SPECTACLES He was a landscape architect. All day he planned Dutch gardens: rectangular, squared with tulips; Italian gardens: dark with myrtle, thick with running water; English gardens: prim, box-edged, espaliered fruit trees flickering on walls, borders of snap-dragons, pansies, marjoram, rue. On Saturday afternoons, he did not walk into the country. He paid a quarter and went to a cinema show, and gazed - gazed - at marching soldiers, at guns firing and recoiling, at waste grounds strewn with mutilated dead. When he took off his glasses, there was moisture upon them, and his eyes hurt. He could not see to use a periscope, they said, yet he could draw gardens.

Page  228 R28 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD His firm dismissed him for designing a military garden: forts, and redoubts, and salients, in hemlock and yew, and a puzzle of ditches, damp, deep, floored with forget-me-nots. It was a wonderful thing, but quite mad, of course. When they took his body from the river, the eyes were wide open, and the lids were so stiffened that they buried him without closing them.

Page  229 PICTURES OF THE-FLOATING WORLD 229 IN THE STADIUM MARSHAL JOFFRE REVIEWING THE HARVARD REGIMENT, MAY 12, 1917 A LITTLE old man Huddled up in a corner of a carriage, Rapidly driven in front of throngs of people With his hand held to a perpetual salute. The people cheer, But he has heard so much cheering. On his breast is a row of decorations. He feels his body recoil before attacks of pain. They are all like this: Napoleon, Hannibal, Great Caesar even, But that he died out of time.

Page  230 230 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD Sick old men, Driving rapidly before a concourse of people, Gay with decorations, Crumpled with pain. The drum-major lifts his silver-headed stick, And the silver trumpets and tubas, The great round drums, Each with an H on them, Crash out martial music. Heavily rhythmed march music For the stepping of a regiment. Slant lines of rifles, A twinkle of stepping, The regiment comes. The young regiment, Boys in khaki With slanted rifles.

Page  231 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD The young bodies of boys Bulwarked in front of us. The white bodies of young men Heaped like sandbags Against the German guns. This is war: Boys flung into a breach Like shovelled earth; And old men, Broken, Driving rapidly before crowds of people In a glitter of silly decorations. Behind the boys And the old men, Life weeps, And shreds her garments To the blowing winds. 9231

Page  232 2 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD AFTER WRITING "THE BRONZE HORSES" I AM so tired. I have run across the ages with spiritless feet, I have tracked man where he falls splintered in defeat, I have watched him shoot up like green sprouts at dawning, I have seen him blossom, and fruit, and offer himself, fawning, On golden platters to kings. I have seen him reel with drunk blood, I have followed him in flood Sweep over his other selves. I have written things Which sucked the breath Out of my lungs, and hung

Page  233 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD 233 My heart up in a frozen death. I have picked desires Out of purple fires And set them on the shelves Of my mind, Nonchalantly, As though my kind Were unlike these. But while I did this, my bowels contracted in twists of fear. I felt myself squeeze Myself dry, And wished that I could shrivel before Destiny Could snatch me back into the vortex of Yesterday. Wheels and wheelsAnd only your hand is firm. The very paths of my garden squirm Like snakes between the brittle flowers, And the sunrise gun cuts off the hours

Page  234 234 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD Of this day and the next. The long, dusty volumes are the first lines of a text. Oh, Beloved, must we read? Must you and I, alone in the midst of trees, See their green alleys printing with the screed Which counts these new men, these Terrible resurrections of old wars. I wish I had not seen so much: The roses that you wear are bloody scars, And you the moon above a battle-field; So all my thoughts are grown to such. A body peeled Down to a skeleton, A grinning jaw-bone in a bed of mignonette. What good is it to say "Not yet." I tell you I am tired And afraid.

Page  235 'PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD' 235 THE FORT THE disappearing guns Are hidden in their concrete emplacements, But, above them, Meadow grasses fall and recover, Bend and stiffen, Go dark, burn light, In the play of a gusty wind. A black-and-orange butterfly Flits about among the butter-and-egg flowers, And the sea stands up, Tall in perspective, With full-spread schooners Sprinkled upon it As roses are powdered Over a ribbon of moire blue.

Page  236 236 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD The disappearing guns are black In grey concrete emplacements With here and there a touch of red rust. Wind cuts through the grasses, Rasps upon them, Draws a bow note out along them. Swish! - Oh-h-h! And the low waves Crash soft constant cymbals On the shingle beach At the foot of the cliff. Good Gracious! A seal! After how many years? He turns his head to look at us, He lolls on his rock contented and hot with sun.

Page  237 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD 937 The disappearing guns would shoot over him If they were to fire. Is he held in the harbour By the submarine nets, I wonder? "You turn the crank so. Do you see her move? If you stand here, you can see the springs for the recoil." Perhaps I can, But I cannot see the orange butterfly, Nor the seal, Nor the little ships Drawn across the tall, streaked sea. And all I can hear Is the jingle of a piano In the men's quarters Playing a comic opera tune.

Page  238 238 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD Is it possible that, at night, The little flitter-bats Hang under the lever-wheels of the disappearing guns In their low emplacements To escape from the glare Of the search-lights, Shooting over the grasses To the sea?

Page  239 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD 239 CAMOUFLAGED TROOP-SHIP Boston Harbour UPRIGHTNESS, Masts, one behind another, Syncopated beyond and between one another, Clouding together, Becoming confused. A mist of grey, blurring stems Platformed upon horizontal thicknesses. Decks, Bows and sterns escaping fore and aft, A long line of flatness Darker than the fog of masts, More solid, Monotonous grey. Dull smokestacks Plotting lustreless clouds.

Page  240 240 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD An ebb-tide Slowly sucking the refuse of a harbour Seaward. The ferry turns; And there, On the starboard quarter, Thrust out from the vapour-wall of ships: Colour. Against the perpendicular: Obliqueness. In front of the horizontal: A crenelated edge. A vessel, grooved and conical, Shell-shaped, flower-flowing, Gothic, bizarre, and unrelated. Black spirals over cream-colour Broken at a half-way point. A slab of black amidships.

Page  241 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD 241 At the stern, Lines: Rising from the water, Curled round and over, Whorled, scattered, Drawn upon one another. Snakes starting from a still ocean, Writhing over cream-colour, Crashed upon and cut down By a flat, impinging horizon. The sea is grey and low, But the vessel is high with upthrusting lines: Hair lines incessantly moving, Broad bands of black turning evenly over emptiness, Intorting upon their circuits, Teasing the eye with indefinite motion, Coming from nothing, Ending without cessation.

Page  242 242 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD Drowned hair drifting against mother-of-pearl; Kelp-aprons Shredded upon a yellow beach; Black spray Salted over cream-grey wave-tops. You hollow into rising water, You double-turn under the dripped edges of clouds, You move in a hundred directions, And keep to a course the eye cannot see. Your terrible lines Are swift as the plunge of a kingfisher; They vanish as one traces them, They are constantly vanishing, And yet you swing at anchor in the grey harbour Waiting for your quota of troops. Men will sail in you, Netted in whirling paint,

Page  243 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD 243 Held like brittle eggs In an osier basket. They will sail, Over black-skinned water, Into a distance of cream-colour and vague shadowshotted blue. The ferry whistle blows for the landing. Start the engine That we may not block The string of waiting carts.

Page  244 244 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD SEPTEMBER. 1918 THIS afternoon was the colour of water falling through sunlight; The trees glittered with the tumbling of leaves; The sidewalks shone like alleys of dropped maple leaves, And the houses ran along them laughing out of square, open windows. Under a tree in the park, Two little boys, lying flat on their faces, Were carefully gathering red berries To put in a pasteboard box. Some day there will be no war, Then I shall take out this afternoon And turn it in my fingers, And remark the sweet taste of it upon my palate,

Page  245 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD 245 And note the crisp variety of its flights of leaves. To-day I can only gather it And put it into my lunch-box,, For I have time for nothing But the endeavour to balance myself Upon a broken world.

Page  246 246 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD THE NIGHT BEFORE THE PARADE April 25, 1919 BIRDS are calling through the rain, Glass bells dropping across the patter of falling rain. The garden soaks, and breathes, and lifts up the spear-green leaves of tulips And the long, golden mouths of daffodils To the downpour, And the high blossoms of forsythia Tremble vaguely, and bend to let the rain run off them And spill over the little red peony fronds Uncurling at their feet. It is wet, and cool, and pleasant. Why should words rattle upon this quietness? "Adders writhe from the sunken eyes Of statues, in Persepolis."

Page  247 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD 247 Clashes of bells bursting in a grey sky, And a clock striking jubilees of brass hours, one after another. Gas-jets flicker, and spin sudden lights across the battle-flags draped to the pillars. The church sighs in the evening rain, Kneeling beneath the dim clouds in a stillness of adoration. Beauty of stone, of glass, of memories, Worshipful beauty spotted by the snarl of words - "Adders writhe from the sunken eyes Of statues, in Persepolis." They have put up stands, Flimsy wooden stands to crush out the little green life of the grass. To-morrow the crowds will cheer, And the streets will shine with flags and gilding.

Page  248 248 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD The people will shout themselves hoarse When the green helmets and the white bayonets Sweep along the streets. Only the little grass-blades will cry and languish, Weeping: "We are the cousins of the grasses of France, The kind grasses who cover the graves of those you have forgotten." Then they will hiss under the cruel stands, And the words will run, and glare, and brighten: "Adders writhe from the sunken eyes Of statues, in Persepolis." Rain on a roofless city, Rain over broken walls and towers scattered to a ring of ruins, Pale splendours of hard stone melted to the purple bloom of orchises, And poppies thrust between the basalt paving-blocks of roads leading to a waste of blue-tongued thistles.

Page  249 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD 249 Where did I see this? Not in the leafless branches of the ash-tree, Not in the glitter of my wet window-sill, Not in the smooth garden filling itself with good rain. There are fireworks to-night, The first for two years. And listen to the rain! Listen - listen - Prayers, and flowers, and a booming of guns. It blurs - Do I hear anything? What are you reading? "Adders writhe from the sunken eyes Of statues, in Persepolis."

Page  250 I


Page  252 II

Page  253 ON A CERTAIN CRITIC WELL, John Keats, I know how you felt when you swung out of the inn And started up Box Hill after the moon. Lord! How she twinkled in and out of the box bushes Where they arched over the path. How she peeked at you and tempted you, And how you longed for the "naked waist" of her You had put into your second canto. You felt her silver running all over you, And the shine of her flashed in your eyes So that you stumbled over roots and things. Ah How beautiful! How beautiful! Lying out on the open hill With her white radiance touching you

Page  254 954 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD Lightly, Flecking over you. "My Lady of the Moon, I flow out to your whiteness, Brightness. My hands cup themselves About your disk of pearl and fire; Lie upon my face, Burn me with the cold of your hot white flame. Diana, High, distant Goddess, I kiss the needles of this furze bush Because your feet have trodden it. Moon! Moon! I am prone before you. Pity me, And drench me in loveliness. I have written you a poem

Page  255 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD 255 I have made a girdle for you of words; Like a shawl my words will cover you, So that men may read of you and not be burnt as I have been. Sere my heart until it is a crinkled leaf, I have held you in it for a moment, And exchanged my love with yours, On a high hill at midnight. Was that your tear or mine, Bright Moon? It was round and full of moonlight. Don't go! My God! Don't go! You escape from me, You slide through my hands. Great Immortal Goddess, Dearly Beloved, Don't leave me. My hands clutch at moonbeams, And catch each other.

Page  256 256 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD My Dear! My Dear! My beautiful far-shining lady! Oh! God! I am tortured with this anguish of unbearable beauty." Then you stumbled down the hill, John Keats, Perhaps you fell once or twice; It is a rough path, And you weren't thinking of that. Then you wrote, By a wavering candle, And the moon frosted your window till it looked like a sheet of blue ice. And as you tumbled into bed, you said: "It's a piece of luck I thought of coming out to Box Hill." Now comes a sprig little gentleman, And turns over your manuscript with his mincing fingers,

Page  257 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD 257 And tabulates places and dates. He says your moon was a copy-book maxim, And talks about the spirit of solitude, And the salvation of genius through the social order. I wish you were here to damn him With a good, round, agreeable oath, John Keats, But just snap your fingers, You and the moon will still love, When he and his papers have slithered away In the bodies of innumerable worms. Printed in the United States of America.

Page  258

Page  [unnumbered] THE following pages contain advertisements of Macmillan books by the same author.

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Page  [unnumbered] BY THE SAME AUTHOR Can Grande's Castle Third Edition, $I.50 "The poems in 'Can Grande's Castle' are only four in number, but two of them... touch magnificence. 'The Bronze Horses' has a larger sweep than Miss Lowell has ever attempted; she achieves here a sense of magnitude and time that is amazing.... Not in all contemporary poetry has the quality of balance and return been so beautifully illustrated." - Louis Untermeyer in The New Era in American Poetry. "'Can Grande's Castle' challenges, through its vividness and contagious zest in life and color, an unreluctant admiration... its rare union of vigor and deftness, precision and flexibility, imaginative grasp and clarity of detail." - Professor John Livingston Lowes in Convention and Revolt in Poetry. "'Sea-Blue and Blood-Red' and 'Guns as Keys: and the Great Gate Swings'... are such a widening of barriers; they bring into literature an element imperceptible in poetry before... the epic of modernity concentrated into thirty pages.... Not since the Elizabethans has such a mastery of words been reached in English... one had never surmised such enchantment could have been achieved with words." - W. Bryher in The Art of Amy Lowell. A Critical Appreciation. London. "The essential element of Miss Lowell's poetry is vividness, vividness and a power to concentrate into a few pages the spirit of an age. She indicates perfectly the slightest sense of atmosphere in a period or a city.... But the spirit of these poems is not the fashioning of pictures, however brilliant, of the past; it is the re-creation of epic moments of history made real as this present through her own individuality and vision." - The London Nation. "We have come to it - once Poe was the living and commanding poet, whose things were waited for.... Now we watch and wait for Amy Lowell's poems. Success justifies her work.... Each separate poem in 'Can Grande's Castle' is a real and true poem of remarkable power - a work of imagination, a moving and beautiful thing." - Joseph E. Chamberlain, in The Boston Transcript. "'Can Grande's Castle' is, in the opinion of the present reviewer, not only the best book which Miss Lowell has so far written, but a great book per se.... It is a frank and revealing book. It deals with fundamentals.... In 'Sea-Blue and Blood-Red' we have the old story of Nelson and 'mad, whole-hearted Lady Hamilton' retold in a style that dazzles and excites like golden standards won from the enemy passing in procession with the sun upon them." - The New York Times Book Review. THE MACMILLAN COMPANY Publishers 64-66 Fifth Avenue New York

Page  [unnumbered] Men, Women, and Ghosts BY AMY LOWELL Fourth edition, cloth, 12, $1.50 "... In the poem which gave its name to a previous volume, ' Sword Blades and Poppy Seed,' Miss Lowell uttered her Credo with rare sincerity and passion. Not since Elizabeth Barrett's ' Vision of Poets' has there been such a confession of faith in the mission of poetry, such a stern compulsion of dedication laid upon the poet. And in her latest work we find proof that she has lived according to her confession and her dedication with a singleness of purpose seldom encountered in our fluid time. "'Men, Women, and Ghosts' is a book greatly and strenuously imagined.... Miss Lowell is a great romantic.... She belongs to the few who, in every generation, feel that poetry is a high calling, and who press undeviatingly toward the mark. They are few, and they are frequently lonely, but they lead." -New York Times Book Review. ".. 'The Hammers' is a really thrilling piece of work; the skill with which it is divided into different moods and motifs is something more than a tour de force. The way the different hammers are characterized and given voice, the varying music wrung from them (from the ponderous banging of the hammers at the building of the ' Bellerophon' to their light tapping as they pick off the letters of Napoleon's victories on the arch of the Place du Carrousel), the emphasis with which they reveal a whole period - these are the things one sees rarely." — Louis UNTERMEYER in the Chicago Evening Post. ".. Beautiful... poetry as authentic as any we know. It is individual, innocent of echo and imitation, with the uniqueness that comes of personal genius... Miss Lowell strives to get into words the effects of the painter's palette and the musician's score. And life withal. Does she succeed? I should say she does, and the first poem in this book, 'Patterns,' is a brilliant, aesthetic achievement in a combination of story, imagism, and symbolism. ' Men, Women, and Ghosts' is a volume that contains beautiful poetry for all readers who have the root of the matter in them." - Reedy's Mirror, St. Louis. "The most original of all the young American writers of to-day." The New Age, London. " Brilliant is the term for 'Men, Women, and Ghosts '- praise which holds good when the book is put to the test of a third reading." - EDWARD GARNETT in The Atlantic Monthly. THE MACMILLAN COMPANY Publishers 64-66 Fifth Avenuo New York

Page  [unnumbered] Sword Blades and Poppy Seed BY AMY LOWELL Fourth edition, cloth, $I.5o OPINIONS OF LEADING REVIEWERS "Against the multitudinous array of daily verse our times produce this volume utters itself with a range and brilliancy wholly remarkable. I cannot see that Miss Lowell's use of unrhymed vers libre has been surpassed in English. Read 'The Captured Goddess,' 'Music,' and 'The Precinct. Rochester,' a piece of mastercraft in this kind. A wealth of subtleties and sympathies, gorgeously wrought, full of macabre effects (as many of the poems are) and brilliantly worked out. The things of splendor she has made she will hardly outdo in their kind." -- JOSEPHINE PRESTON PEABODY, The Boston Herald. " For quaint pictorial exactitude and bizarrerie of color these poems remind one of Flemish masters and Dutch tulip gardens; again, they are fine and fantastic, like Venetian glass; and they are all curiously flooded with the moonlight of dreams.... Miss Lowell has a remarkable gift of what one might call the dramatic-decorative. Her decorative imagery is intensely dramatic, and her dramatic pictures are in themselves vivid and fantastic decorations." - RICHARD LE GALLIENNE, New York Times Book Review. "Such poems as 'A Lady,' ' Music,' ' White and Green,' are wellnigh flawless in their beauty- perfect ' images.' "- HARRIET MONROE, Poetry. "Her most notable quality appears in the opening passage of the volume. The sharply etched tones and contours of this picture are characteristic of the author's work.... In 'unrhymed cadence' Miss Lowell's cadences are sometimes extremely delicate, as in 'The Captured Goddess.'" -ARTHUR DAVISON FICKE, Chicago Dial. " One of the great delights of Miss Lowell's style is the marvellously clever way in which, in a few lines, she can create atmosphere, paint for us a word-picture which makes the scene almost as vivid as reality." - The Tattler, London. THE MACMILLAN COMPANY Publishers 64-66 Fifth Avenue New York

Page  [unnumbered] A Dome of Many-Coloured Glass BY AMY LOWELL Fourth edition, cloth, $i.50 PRESS NOTICES "These poems arouse interest, and justify it by the result. Miss Lowell is the sister of President Lowell of Harvard. Her art, however, needs no reflection from such distinguished influence to make apparent itsdistinction. Such verse as this is delightful, has a sort of personal flavour, a loyalty to the fundamentals of life and nationality... The child poems are particularly graceful." - Boston Evening Transcript, Boston, Mass. "Miss Lowell has given expression in exquisite form to many beautiful thoughts, inspired by a variety of subjects and based on some of the loftiest ideals.... "The verses are grouped under the captions 'Lyrical Poems,' ' Sonnets,' and ' Verses for Children.'... " It is difficult to say which of these are the most successful. Indeed, all reveal Miss Lowell's powers of observation from the view-point of a lover of nature. Moreover, Miss Lowell writes with a gentle philosophy and a deep knowledge of humanity.... "The sonnets are especially appealing and touch the heart strings so tenderly that there comes immediate response in the same spirit.... " That she knows the workings of the juvenile mind is plainly indicated by her verses written for their reading." - Boston Sunday Globe, Boston, Mass. "A quite delightful little collection of verses."- Toronto Globe, Toronto, Canada. "The Lyrics are true to the old definition; they would sing well to the accompaniment of the strings. We should like to hear " Hora Stellatrix" rendered by an artist."- Hartford Courant, Hartford, Conn. "Verses that show delicate appreciation of the beautiful, and imaginative quality. A sonnet entitled ' Dreams' is peculiarly full of sympathy and feeling." - The Sun, Baltimore, Md. THE MACMILLAN COMPANY Publishers 64-66 Fifth Avenue New York

Page  [unnumbered] Tendencies in Modem American Poetry BY AMY LOWELL New edition. Illustrated, 8vo, $2.50 "I have no hesitation in insisting that Miss Amy Lowell's ' Tendencies in Modern American Poetry' is one of the most striking volumes of criticism that has appeared in recent years." - CLEMENT K. SHORTER in The Sphere, London. "In her recent volume, ' Tendencies in Modern American Poetry,' Miss Lowell employs this method (the historical) with excellent results....We feel throughout a spirit of mingled courage, kindness, and independence illuminating the subject, and the result is the note of personality that is so priceless in criticism, yet which, unhoneyed on the one hand or uncrabbed on the other, is so hard to come by... her latest book leaves with the reader a strong impression of the most simple and unaffected integrity." - HELEN BULLIS KIZER in The North A merican Review. " A new criticism has to be created to meet not only the work of the new artists but also the uncritical hospitality of current taste.... That is why a study such as Miss Amy Lowell's on recent tendencies in American verse is so significant.... Her very tone is revolutionary...Poetry appears for the first time on our critical horizon... as a sound and important activity of contemporary American life."RANDOLPH BOURNE in The Dial. "Its real worth as criticism and its greater worth as testimony are invaluable." -. W. FIRKINS in The Nation. "The feeling she has for poetry is so genuine and catholic and instructed, and her acquaintance with modern activity so energetic, that she is one of the most interesting and illuminating persons with whom to visit the new poets, led by the hand." - The New Republic. THE MACMILLAN COMPANY Publishers 64-66 Fifth Avenue New York

Page  [unnumbered] Six French Poets STUDIES IN CONTEMPORARY LITERATURE BY AMY LOWELL Third edition, illustrated, $2.50 A brilliant series of biographical and critical essays dealing with Emile Verhaeren, Albert Samain, Remy de Gourmont, Henri de Rignier, Francis Jammes, and Paul Fort, by one of the foremost living American poets. The translations make up an important part of the book, and together with the French originals constitute a representative anthology of the poetry of the period. WILLIAM LYON PHELPS, Professor of English Literature, Yale University, says: "This is, I think, the most valuable work on contemporary French literature that I have seen for a long time. It is written by one who has a thorough knowledge of the subject and who is herself an American poet of distinction. She has the knowledge, the sympathy, the penetration, and the insight - all necessary to make a notable book of criticism. It is a work that should be widely read in America." "In her 'Six French Poets' I find a stimulating quality of a high order.... I defy any English critic to rise from this book without the feeling that he has gained considerably. This is the first volume in English to contain a minute and careful study of these French writers." - CLEMENT K. SHORTER in The Sphere, London. " I can conceive of no greater pleasure than that of a lover of poetry who reads in Miss Lowell's book about modern French poetry for the first time; it must be like falling into El Dorado."- F. S. FLINT, formerly French critic of Poetry and Drama, London, in The Little Review. " Amy Lowell's 'French Poets'... ought to be labelled like Pater's studies ' Appreciations,' so full of charm are its penetrative interpretations... and it is not too bold to say that her introductions to and interpretations of French poets will live as long as interest in these poets themselves lives. Her book is a living and lasting piece of criticism.. a masterly volume." — New York Sun. " A very admirable piece of work." — The London Bookman. "Une tres interessante etude." - La France. "An excellent book." -EMILE CAMMAERTS in The Athenweum, London. "Miss Lowell has done a real service to literature. One must be limited, indeed, who fails to appreciate the power of these writers as set forth through the comment, the discriminating extracts, and the appended prose translations in her book."- North American Review. THE MACMILLAN COMPANY Publishers 64-66 Fifth Avenue New York

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