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UC-NRLF 



PICTURES 

OF THE 

v FLOATING WORLD 




.F. 



THE 




Books by AMY LOWELL 

PUBLISHED BY 

HOUGHTON MIFFLIN COMPANY 

Poetry 
WHAT S O CLOCK 

LEGENDS 

PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD 
CAN GRANDE S CASTLE 
MEN, WOMEN AND GHOSTS 
SWORD BLADES AND POPPY SEED 
A DOME OF MANY-COLOURED GLASS 
A CRITICAL FABLE 

(IN COLLABORATION WITH FLORENCE ATSCOUGH) 
FIR-FLOWER TABLETS: POEMS TRANSLATED 
FROM THE CHINESE 

Prose 

TENDENCIES IN MODERN AMERICAN POETRY 

six FRENCH POETS: STUDIES IN CONTEMPO 
RARY LITERATURE 
JOHN KEATS 



PICTURES 

OF THE 

FLOATING WORLD 

BY 

AMY LOWELL 




BOSTON AND NEW YORK 

HOUGHTON MIFFLIN COMPANY 

(I;e fttoerg ibe presrf Cambri&Qe 



MORRISON MEMORIAL LIBRARY 

COPYRIGHT, 1919, BY AMY LOWELL 
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED 

PUBLISHED SEPTEMBER, 7919 
REPRINTED NOVEMBER, DECEMBER, 1919 

JUNE, 1920; AUGUST, 1922 
MAY, 1924, DECEMBER, 1925 



CAMBRIDGE - MASSACHUSETTS 
PRINTED IN THE U.S.A. 



3523 

On Ps 



"In <fo? name of J&ese 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." 



683050 



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 quasi- 
Oriental 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 "Chi- 

noiseries"; but, even here, I have made no 

vii 



CONTENTS 

LACQUER PRINTS: 

STREETS 3 

BY MESSENGER 4 

CIRCUMSTANCE 4 

ANGLES 5 

VICARIOUS 5 

NEAR KIOTO 6 

DESOLATION 6 

i 

YOSHIWARA LAMENT 6 

SUNSHINE 6 

ILLUSION 7 

A YEAR PASSES 7 

A LOVER 8 

To A HUSBAND 8 

THE FISHERMAN S WIFE 8 

FROM CHINA 8 

THE POND 9 

AUTUMN 9 

\ 

xi 



i CONTENTS 

EPHEMERA .... -tn 

DOCUMENT ..... IQ 

THE EMPEROB S GARDEN .... n 

, ONE OF THE "HUNDRED VIEWS OF FUJI" BY 

HOKUSAI 11 

DISILLUSION .... 12 

PAPER FISHES ..... 12 

MEDITATION i Q 

* J.O 

THE CAMELLIA TREE OF MATSUE ... 13 

SUPERSTITION 1 5 

THE RETURN 15 

A LADY TO HER LOVER ... jg 

NUANCE -jg 

AUTUMN HAZE ..... 16 

PEACE .... 16 

IN TIME OF WAR 1 7 

NUIT BLANCHE 1 7 

SPRING DAWN 1 7 

POETRY o lg 

FROM A WINDOW ..... 18 

AGAIN THE NEW YEAR FESTIVAL 18 



CONTENTS X 

TIME 19 

LEGEND .19 

PILGRIMS ASCENDING FUJI-YAMA ... 19 

THE KAGOES OF A RETURNING TRAVELLER . 20 

A STREET 20 

OUTSIDE A GATE 20 

ROAD TO THE YOSHIWARA . . . .21 

Ox STREET. TAKANAWA 21 

A DAIMIO S OIRAN [21 

PASSING THE BAMBOO FENCE .... 22 

FROSTY EVENING 22 

AN ARTIST 22 

A BURNT OFFERING 23 

DAYBREAK. YOSHIWARA 23 

TEMPLE CEREMONY 23 

Two PORTERS RETURNING ALONG A COUNTRY 

ROAD 24 

STORM BY THE SEASHORE 24 

THE EXILED EMPEROR 25 

LETTER WRITTEN FROM PRISON BY Two POLIT 
ICAL OFFENDERS 25 



XIV CONTENTS 

MOON HAZE 25 

PROPORTION . 26 

CONSTANCY ..... 26 

CHINOISERIES: 

REFLECTIONS .... 27 

FALLING SNOW <gg 

HOAR-FROST 28 

GOLD-LEAF SCREEN 29 

A POET S WIFE 30 

SPRING LONGING 3j 

Li T AI Po 32 

PLANES OF PERSONALITY 

TWO SPEAK TOGETHER 

VERNAL EQUINOX 39 

THE LETTER 40 

MISE EN SCENE 42 

VENUS TRANSIENS 43 

MADONNA OF THE EVENING FLOWERS ... 45 

BRIGHT SUNLIGHT 47 



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 

Cog 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 



XVI CONTENTS 



NERVES 

<jr 

LEFT BEHIND 

AUTUMN 

THE SIXTEENTH FLOOR 

STRAIN 

HAUNTED 

GROTESQUE 

SNOW IN APRIL 

A SPRIG OF ROSEMARY 

MALADIE DE L APRES-MIDI .... 

NOVEMBER 

NOSTALGIA 

PREPARATION 

A DECADE 

PENUMBRA 

FRIMAIRE ........ 

EYES, AND EARS, AND WALKING 

SOLITAIRE 

THE BACK BAY FENS 

FREE FANTASIA ON JAPANESE THEMES 



CONTENTS XVII 

AT THE BOOKSELLER S 109 

VIOLIN SONATA BY VINCENT D !NDY . . . .111 

WINTER S TURNING 113 

EUCHARIS AMAZONICA 115 

THE Two RAINS 117 

GOOD GRACIOUS! 118 

TREES 119 

DAWN ADVENTURE 120 

THE CORNER OF NIGHT AND MORNING . . . 121 

BEECH, PINE, AND SUNLIGHT ..... 122 

PLANNING THE GARDEN 124 

IMPRESSIONIST PICTURE OF A GARDEN . . . 128 

A BATHER 130 

DOG-DAYS 133 

AUGUST (LATE AFTERNOON) 134 

HILLY COUNTRY 135 

TREES IN WINTER 136 

SEA COAL 138 

DOLPHINS IN BLUE WATER 139 

MOTOR LIGHTS ON A HILL ROAD . . . .141 



xviii CONTENTS 

AS TOWARD ONE ? S SELF 

IN A TIME OF DEARTH 147 

ALIENS 152 

MIDDLE AGE 153 

LA VIE DE BOHEME 154 

FLAME APPLES 157 

THE TRAVELLING BEAR 158 

MERCHANDISE 160 

THE POEM 162 

THE PEDDLER OF FLOWERS 164 

BALLS 166 

THE FANATIC 167 

FIREWORKS 169 

TRADES 171 

GENERATIONS 173 

ENTENTE CORDIALE 174 

CASTLES IN SPAIN 175 

PLUMMETS TO CIRCUMSTANCE 

ELY CATHEDRAL 179 

WILLIAM BLAKE . ...... 181 



CONTENTS XIX 

i 

AN INCIDENT ........ 182 

PEACH-COLOUR TO A SOAP-BUBBLE .... 184 

PYROTECHNICS 185 

THE BOOKSHOP 187 

GARGOYLES . . 189 

To WINKY 193 

CHOPIN 197 

APPULDURCOMBE PARK 201 

THE BROKEN FOUNTAIN 207 

THE DUSTY HOUR-GLASS 209 

THE FLUTE 211 

FLOTSAM 213 

LITTLE IVORY FIGURES PULLED WITH STRING . . 215 

ON THE MANTELPIECE 217 

AS TOWARD WAR 

MlSERICORDIA 221 

DREAMS IN WAR TIME 222 

SPECTACLES . 227 

IN THE STADIUM 229 

AFTER WRITING "THE BRONZE HORSES" . , 232 



XX CONTENTS 

THE FORT 235 

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 
Imaglst Poets 1916, and Some Imagist Poets^ 1917, published by 
Houghton Mifflin Company. 



LACQUER PRINTS 

AND 

CHINOISERIES 



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. 



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. 



PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD 



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, 
Because of the chrysanthemums 
Heaped about its edge. 



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. 



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, 



PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD 

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. 



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, 



PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD 

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 frogs 
Cracked 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. 



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, 



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, hi 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 ! 



12 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. 



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 



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. 



PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD 15 

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. 



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. 



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. 



18 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD 



POETRY 

OVKK 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. 



;: . .. . Tin; rr/jATi.v; W.HJj 19 



TIME 

LOOKING at myself in my metal mirror, 
I saw, faintly outlined, 
The figure of a crane 

Engraved upon its hack. 

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 



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, 
O 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. 



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. 



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 shoji. 



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. 



PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD 23 

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, 
OWind! 
And let no clouds cover the moon 



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. 



PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD 25 

THE EXILED EMPEROR 
THE birds sing to-day, 
For to-morrow they will be flown 
Many miles across the tossing 



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. 



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. 



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. 



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. 



PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD 29 

GOLD-LEAF 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. 



30 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-chun to her husband Ssu-ma Ilsiang-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. 



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. 



32 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, 



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. 



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." 



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. 



PLANES OF PERSONALITY 
TWO SPEAK TOGETHER 



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 ? < 



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, 



PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD 4J 

And posting it. 

And I scald alone, here, under the fire 

Of the great moon. 



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 violets 

Flares out behind you in great curves 

Like the swirling draperies of a painted Madonna. 



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 ? 



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. 



PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD 45 

MADONNA OF THE EVENING FLOWERS 

ALL day long I have been working, 

Now 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, 



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. 



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. 



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. 



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. 



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 fire 
Sacrificial 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. 



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 



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. 



PICTURES OP 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. 

Murex-dyes and tinsel 

And yet I think I could bear your beauty unshaded. 



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, 



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. 



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, 



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. 



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. 



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. 



60 PICTURES OP THE FLOATING WORLD 

Shadow yourself that I may love you, 
For now it is too great a pain. 



PICTUEES 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. 



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 crocus- 
coloured 

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 ! 



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. 



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. 



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. 



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. 



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. 



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 

i 

At ten o clock in the morning. 



PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD 



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. 



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 ? 



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, 



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," 



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. 



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 ? 



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 oozing 
The air oozes blue mauve 

And 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? 



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, 

v -v 

Through woods 



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. 



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. 



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 ? 



80 PICTUBES 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. 



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 



82 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD 

And hurt it. 

For I am afraid of the twining of the darkness 

And dare not sleep* 



PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD 83 



HAUNTED 

SEE ! 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. 



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 ? 



PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD 85 

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. 

My 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 



86 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD 

Dead, 

With rny blossoms brown and dropping 

Upon my cold roots. 



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. 



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 

Wit,h 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, 



PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD 89 

And the flat blows of sound 

Hurt me, 

And bring me nearly to weeping. 



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. 



PICTURES OP 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 

M 

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. 



92 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WOHLD 

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." 



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." 



94 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD 



A DECADE 

WHEN 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. 



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? 



96 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD 

You will see my chair 

With its bright chintz covering 

Standing hi the afternoon sunshine, "S 

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 ask 

Clinging 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 ; 



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. 

i 

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. 



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, 



PICTTJBES 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 ! 



EYES, AND EARS, AND WALKING 



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 flu tings 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 ! 



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. 



PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD 105 

FREE FANTASIA ON JAPANESE THEMES 

ALL the afternoon there has been 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 



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, 



PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD 107 

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. 



108 PICTURES OP 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. 



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 arc 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." 



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. 



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, 



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. 



PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD 113 

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 



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. 



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, 



116 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD 

Mary kissed your petals, 

And the chill of pure snow 

Burned her lips with its six-pointed seal. 



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. 



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. 



PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD 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. 



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 tree 
Swooping, falling, in a shadow-black curve 
And 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. 



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 rose- 
rising 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. 



122 PICTUEES 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. -> 



PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD 123 

It is a languor of pale, south-starting sunlight 
Come upon a morning unawaked, 
And holding her drowsing. 



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. 



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. 



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 



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. ^ 



128 PICTURES OP 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, 



PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD 129 

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. 



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 
v ripe fruit, 



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 wood- 
smells about you, 

The pungence of strawberry plants, and of gum- 
oozing 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 



132 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. 



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 
Jerk? 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. 



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. 



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. 



l33 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD 



TREES IN WINTER 

PINE-TBEES : 

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. 



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. 



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. 



PICTUKES 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, 



140 PICTUKES 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. 



PICTURES OP THE FLOATING WORLD 141 

MOTOR LIGHTS ON A HILL ROAD 

YELLOW-GREEN, yellow-green, yellow-green and silver, 

Rimpte 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. 



142 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. 



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 cf 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, 



144 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD 

Expanding, 

Skimming over the face of the world 

Green and yellow, occasionally tinged with silver. 



AS TOWARD ONE S SELF 



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, 



148 PICTURES OP 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 



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. 



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. 



PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD 151 

But I shall not see the sand any more 

And I can read 

While my matches last. 



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. 



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. 



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. 



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 inob 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. 



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. 



PICTUEES OF THE FLOATING WORLD 157 



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. 



158 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD 



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. 



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. 



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, 



* 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 ! 



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 



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. 



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. 



PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD 165 

That night 

x 

I slept upon the open seats 

Of a circus, 

Where all day long 

People had watched 

The antics 

Of a painted clown. 



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 ? 



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 



1G8 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. 



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 hearto 
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. 



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. 



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, 



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. 



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. 



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 indi 
viduals ? 

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. 



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. 



PLUMMETS TO CIRCUMSTANCE 



ELY CATHEDRAL 

ANAEMIC 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. 



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? 



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. 



182 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD 



AN INCIDENT 

WILLIAM BLAKE and Catherine Bourchier were 
married in the newly rebuilt Church of Batter- 
sea 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, 



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 ? 



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. 



PICTUKES 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. 

n 

Hola! Hola! shouts the crowd, as the catharine- 
wheels sputter and turn. 

Hola! They cheer the flower-pots and set pieces. 

And nobody heeds the cries of a young man in shirt 
sleeves, 

Who has burnt his fingers setting them off. 



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. 



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, 



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. 



1 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, 



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. 



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. 



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. 



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 



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 



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. 



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. 



PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD 197 

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, 



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 monies ; 

Organs on iron midnights, 

And long wax winding-sheets 

Guttered from altar candles. 



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 



200 PICTURES OF THE 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. 



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. 



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. 



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. 9 

"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. 

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. 

N 

1 must go in and give my husband his posset. 
I hear him calling : 

"Mary, where are you? I want you." 



204 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD 

I am a woman, sick for passion, 

Waiting in the long, black room for the funeral pro 
cession 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 ! 



f PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD 205 

Sick for what ? 
Why do you not come ? 

I am a woman, sick sick 

Sick 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? 



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 tak< 

cold. 

A little dish of posset. 
Do the dead eat ? 
I have done it so long, 
So strangely long. 



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. 



208 PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD 

But when Autumn comes 

The beech leaves cover her with a golden counter 
pane. 



PICTUKES 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. 



310 PICTURES OP 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 comer. 

Dolci, dolci, i giorni passati I 



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 it* " 
"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 I 



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." 



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 any 
thing else. 

Presently she grew tired and handed him back his 
heart, 



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. 



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 ! 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, 



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. 



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. * 



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. 



AS TOWARD WAR 



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. 



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, 



PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD 223 

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. 

m 

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, 



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 hi the dawn. 

V 

I followed a procession of singing girls 
Who danced to the glitter of tambourines. 



PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD 225 

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." 

vn 

I had made a kite, 

On it I had pasted golden stars 



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 hi 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. 



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 gar 
dens : prim, box-edged, espaliered fruit trees flick 
ering 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. 



228 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. 



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. 



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. 



PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD 231 

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. 



232 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 



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 wheels 
And 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 



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. 



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. 



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 c 

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 



PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD 237 

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. 



PICTUBES 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? 



PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD 

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. 



240 PICTURES OP 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 j 

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. 



PICTURES OF THE FLOATING WORLD 2<U 

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. 



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, i 



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 shadow- 
shotted blue. 

The ferry whistle blows for the landing. 

Start the engine 

That we may not block 

The string of waiting carts. 



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, 



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. 



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." 



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. 



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. 



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.". 



AS TOWARD IMMORTALITY 



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 



254 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 a 

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 



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. N 
Great Immortal Goddess, 
Dearly Beloved, 
Don t leave me. 

My hands clutch at moonbeams, 
And catch each other. 



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, 



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 

*K 

In the bodies of innumerable worms. 



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