Amy Lowell, 1919
Was Venus more beautiful
Than you are,
When she topped
The crinkled waves,
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?
You stand poised
On 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.
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.
Jolt of market-carts;
Steady drip of horses’ hoofs on the hard pavement;
A black sky lacquered over with blueness,
And the lights of the 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?
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
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,
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.
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 uncertain 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,
And posting it.
And I scald alone, here, under the fire
Of the great moon.
Even the iris bends
When a butterfly lights upon it.
A Little Poetry—In the Orient, the iris symbolizes wisdom.
Sea Shell, Sea Shell,
Sing me a song, O Please!
A song of ships and sailor men,
And parrots and tropical trees,
Of islands lost in the Spanish Main
Which no man ever may find again,
Of fishes and corals under the waves,
And seahorses stabled in great green caves.
Sea Shell, Sea Shell,
Sings of the things you know so well.
The pool is edged with the blade-like leaves of irises.
If I throw a stone into the placid water,
It suddenly stiffens
Into rings and rings
Of sharp gold wire.