Verse
Adelaide Crapsey

PART ONE

Page  [18]Page  19

BIRTH-MOMENT

Behold her,
Running through the waves,
Eager to reach the land:
The water laps her,
Sun and wind are on her,
Healthy, brine-drenched and young,
Behold Desire new-born;—
Desire on first fulfilment's radiant edge,
Love at miraculous moment of emergence,
This is she,
Who running,
Hastens, hastens to the land.
Look…Look…
Her brown gold hair and lucent eyes of youth,
Her body rose and ivory in the sun…
Look,
How she hastens,
Running, running to the land.
Her hands are yearning and her feet are swift
To reach and hold
Page  20
She knows not what,
Yet knows that it is life;
Need urges her,
Self, uncomprehended but most deep divined,
Unwilled but all-compelling, drives her on.
Life runs to life.
She who longs,
But hath not yet accepted or bestowed,
All virginal dear and bright,
Runs, runs to reach the land.
And she who runs shall be
Married to blue of summer skies at noon,
Companion to green fields,
Held bride of subtle fragrance and of all sweet sound,
Belovéd of the stars,
And wanton mistress to the veering winds.
Oh, breathless space between:
Womb-time just passed,
Dark-hidden, chaotic-formative, unpersonal,
And individual life of fresh-created force
Not yet begun:
One moment more
Before desire shall meet desire
And new creation start:
Oh breathless space,
While she,
Page  21
Just risen from the waves,
Runs, runs to reach the land.
(Ah, keenest personal moment
When mouth unkissed turns eager-slow and tremulous
Towards lover's mouth,
That tremulous and eager-slow
Droops down to it:
But breathless space of breath or two
Lies in between
Before the mouth upturned and mouth down-drooped
Shall meet and make the kiss.)
Look…Look…
She runs…
Love fresh-emerged,
Desire new-born…
Blown on by wind,
And shone on by the sun,
She rises from the waves
And running,
Hastens, hastens to the land.
Belovéd and Belovéd and Belovéd,
Even so right
And beautiful and undenied
Page  22
Is my desire;
Even so longing-swift
I run to your receiving arms.
O Aphrodite!
O Aphrodite, hear!
Hear my wrung cry flame upward poignant-glad....
This is my time for me.
I too am young;
I too am all of love!

1905.

Page  23

THE MOTHER EXULTANT

Joy! Joy! Joy!
The hills are glad,
The valleys re-echo with merriment,
In my heart is the sound of laughter,
And my feet dance to the time of it;
Oh, little son, carried light on my shoulder,
Let us go laughing and dancing through the live days,
For this is the hour of the vintage,
When man gathereth for himself the fruits of the vineyard.
Look, little son, look;
The grapes are translucent and ripe,
They are heavy and fragrant with juice,
They wait for the hands of the vintagers;
For a long time the grapes were not,
And were in the womb of the earth,
Then out of the heavens came the rain,
The sun sent down his warmth from the sky,
At the touch of life, life stirred,
And the earth brought forth her fruits in due season.
Page  24
I was a maid and alone,
When, behold, there came to me a vision;
My heart cried out within me,
And the voice was the voice of God.
Yea, a I virgin dreamed of love,
And I was troubled and sore afraid,
I wept and was glad,
For the word of my heart named me blesséd,
My soul exalted the might of creation.
I was a maid and alone,
When, behold, my lover came to me,
My belovéd held me in his arms.
Joy! Joy! Joy!
Now is the vision fulfilled:
I have conceived,
I have carried in my womb,
I have brought forth
The life of the world;
Out of my joy and my pain,
Out of the fulness of my living
Hath my son gained his life.
Look, little son, look;
The grapes are ripe for the gathering,
The fresh, deep earth is in them,
And clean water from the clouds.
And golden, golden sun is in the heart of the grapes.
Look, little son, look;
Page  25
The earth, your mother,
And the touch of life who is your father,
They have provided food for you
That you also may live.
The vineyards are planted on the hillside,
They are the vineyards of my belovéd,
He chose a favorable spot,
His hands prepared the soil for the planting:
He set out the young vines
And cared for them till the time of their bearing.
Now is his labour fulfilled who worked with God.
The fruit of the vineyard is ripe,
The vintagers laugh in the sun,
They sing while they gather the grapes,
For the vintage is a good one,
The wine vats are pressed down and running over.
Joy! Joy! Joy!
Now is the wonder accomplished;
Out of the heart of the living grape
Hath the hand of my belovéd
Wrung the wine of the dream of life.
Belovéd,
My little son's father,
Page  26
Together we have given life,
And the vision of life;
Shall we not rejoice
Who have made eternal
The days of our living?
Look, little son, look:
The grapes glow with rich juice,
The juice of the grape hath in it
The substance of the earth,
And the air's breath;
It hath in it the soul of the vintage.
Put forth your hand, little son,
And take for yourself the life
That your father and your mother
Have provided for you.
Joy! Joy! Joy!
The hills are glad,
The valleys re-echo with merriment,
In my heart is the sound of laughter,
And my feet dance to the time of it;
Oh, little son, carried light on my shoulder,
Let us go laughing and dancing through the live days,
For this is the hour of the vintage,
When man gathereth for himself the fruits of the vineyard.

1905.

Page  27

JOHN KEATS

Meet thou the event
And terrible happening of
Thine end: for thou art come
Upon the remote, cold place
Of ultimate dissolution and
With dumb, wide look
Thou, impotent, dost feel
Impotence creeping on
Thy potent soul. Yea, now, caught in
The aghast and voiceless pain
Of death, thyself doth watch
Thyself becoming naught.
Peace…Peace…for at
The last is comfort. Lo, now
Thou hast no pain. Lo, now
The waited presence is
Within the room; the voice
Speaks final-gentle: "Child,
Ever thy careful nurse,
I lift thee in my arms
For greater ease and while
Thy heart still beats, place my
Page  28
Cool fingers of oblivion on
Thine eyes and close them for
Eternity. Thou shalt
Pass sleeping, nor know
When sleeping ceases. Yet still
A little while thy breathing lasts,
Gradual is faint and fainter; I
Must listen close—the end."
Rest. And you, others…All.
Grave-fellows in
Green place. Here grows
Memorial every spring's
Fresh grass and here
Your marking monument
Was built for you long, long
Ago when Caius Cestius died.
Page  [29]