Make your own free website on
Stromata     |     home
     next          up
Verse   |   Political, Satirical and Frivolous Verse   |   Epigrams   |   Daddy Is a Spaceman   |   Tory Songs By Sundry Hands
Alone within a secret garden,
I sang my sonnets to the sky.
“Go forth, let resolution harden,
And sing to her,” the clouds reply.
So, lady, let me ask your pardon,
While I expound the love I bear.

I saw you once and thought you golden.
Another glance and still more fair
You seemed, until my heart was holden
To your beauty though it bring despair.
Yet nothing could my tongue embolden
To speak the words within my breast:

“O lady whom all angels favor,
Pray grant your suppliant's request.
One taste of you, the smallest savor
Would set his famished soul at rest,
Nor shall his loving ever waver,
Though you may smile for but a day.

“So come, sweet nymph, and let me linger
Upon your lips, then pass away.
My memory's harp with joy I'll finger
Near by some fogbound northern bay -
You be the song and I the singer
And all of time a time to play.”

At last the dim-eyed world discovers you,
A treasure richer than the purest jade.
So long seen only by the lucky few
Whom chance or kinship gave a private view,
At last this rumored diamond is displayed
And proves our whispered lauds of beauty true.

As your long friend, I cannot wish you ill,
Nor curse the newer friends who give you praise.
Go laugh with them; bestow love where you will.
Your life begins so late; enjoy your fill
Of mirth, but as you dance away the days,
Let me regret you are not hidden still.

Beyond the backmost corner of my eye
In every pretty place I pass,
I see my dear one laughing at the sky,
I see her dancing on the grass.

I see her frolic in the falling snow
Or dream beneath the noonday rays.
In twilight woods I see her shadow go
A breath beyond my farthest gaze.

So often would I chase that prancing shade!
Or call your name and hope to hear
An answer murmured from the distant glade
To say that you yet think me dear.

The images are silent; silently
I stand at last. But where are you?
I sense your presence here, not tangibly
Yet not a fluttering memory’s hue.

For woven through my eyes and lips and hands,
Through all my senses’ every part,
From loving you so long are subtle strands
Of you entangling soul and heart.

However far away from you I seem,
I carry some of you and smile;
I know that loneliness is but a dream,
And you are with me every mile.

Do you hear the sound of weeping
From the place where she lies sleeping,
Who once set my heart to leaping
Full of hasty vows?  Their keeping
Seemed so easy long ago.

All was May, and all was gladness.
No tomorrow could bring sadness.
So I reasoned in my madness,
Thinking saplings free of badness
From infected roots could grow.

Now the shadows creeping nightly
Enter vows we made too lightly,
When rash promise seemed made rightly
And the flame of love burned brightly,
Far too brightly, long ago.

Enjoy your flirting now, while friendly skies
Reflect the mocking laughter of your eyes
And all the universe is cozy, warm,
Forgiving of a coquette's willful storm.

Enjoy your flirting now, before your day
Must change dawn's glowing for the noontide's gray
Sincerity and then for twilight's ashen
Lost light, lost smiles, lost friends, lost years, lost passion.

Enjoy your flirting now.  Already men,
As they admire, are calculating when
This scorning sprite will scorn her liberty
And choose forever him or him or me.

Enjoy your flirting now. I should regret
The fading of Aurora's rose, and yet
I too can calculate and hope that soon,
If dawn must pass, I may be warmed by noon.

Forsaking lands where Cupid reigns,
Long years I thought my soul was free,
But now in stronger beauty's chains
Secure the god imprisons me.
Bound in love's torment I must lie,
But never promise liberty!
Release from you would be to die -
These chains excel delight, and I
Yearn for long years of slavery!

Damsel, with your smile remove
Pains that fester in my heart.
Vain does every physic prove
Except the herb that caused the smart:
You, my hopeless, hoped-for love.

How will I know if she's in love with me?
Will I hear chimes ringing in her ear?
Or when we have to say good-night,
Will she turn to hide a tiny tear?
     How will I know if she's in love?

How will I know if she's in love with me?
Will I ever dare to call her “dear”?
Or when the band is sweet and slow,
Will I take a chance and draw her near?
     How will I know if she's in love?

     In movies it's so simple -
     A boy meets a girl;
     He takes her in his arms;
     The screen starts to whirl. . . .

But will I know if she's in love with me?
Is it love or just politeness that I hear?
And once again, when all is done,
Will I stand in silence out of fear
     And never know if she's in love?

I dreamt the Charon beckoned me.
He marked the blood sign on my brow.
He pointed to the Stygian Sea,
Then to my place in his boat’s bow.

But still I asked a reckoning,
To hear my sin, to know my crime,
To learn what fault displeased the King.
I would recant such place and time.

“Recant?” he smiled, a dry-lipped grin.
“Before your know, perhaps you would
Avow to nothingness your sin.
But wilt repent what you called good?

“No murder brings you to my shore,
No violence or even lie.
If nothing worse than these you bore
You could repent and would not die.

“But when you smiled with evil friends
And called indifference charity,
You chose your path, and here it ends,
Alone - upon this ship - with me.”

I sought from her a simple smile.
I used. no words of lover’s guile
Nor wished to stay but for a while,
     Yet she refused
And left me pining still today
     How I was used.

I failed to find the words to say
My actions were not flirting play,
That purer thoughts and deeper lay
     Within my heart.
Now in my soul her frowns have burned
     A deeper smart.

Dear lady, when the world has turned
From green to gray and you are spurned,
Remember how a fool once yearned
     For your embrace.
Doubt not the world will grant your frowns
An equal grace.

I used to laugh at sweethearts’ games
And tell men love was not so blind,
For his swift arrow only lames
Those gentlemen of foolish frames
Who scorn right reason and the tranquil mind.

I laughed until, one sunny day,
When flowers and folly were in season,
I saw you walk, your figure sway
In time to your sweet voice - straightway,
I left my laughter and abandoned reason.

Though on your face I barely glanced
And would not break the spell by calling,
I fancied that your eyebrows chanced
To lift toward me before you danced
Away to some bright land where stars are falling,

Where you became an angel’s bride
Or wed an Elven prince of Faerie,
For where would be the heavens’ pride,
Should you, outshining seraphs, glide
Away from them and choose a man to marry.

But, as for me, I still scorn love,
Though not with jests or mocking laughter.
Instead, I scorn it like the dove
That catches sight of worlds above
And leaves its heart beyond this Earth thereafter.

My love goes dancing where immortal stars
Enjoy their feast of timeless light,
Where Venus takes the hand of stalwart Mars,
A realm too rich for human sight.

But while she dances I must sit apart.
When Saturn takes her by the hand,
A billion leagues below my envious heart
Implores the crystal spheres to stand!

Should Chaos once again usurp the sky
And fling the planets from their place,
At least my darling would dance here, and I
Could rebuild heaven from her face.

Let justice fail, and let the heavens fall!
Let night become confused with day!
The universe? I’d gladly give it all,
That she might come to me and stay!

Now either love or cease to love, but make
A choice while choosing time remains.
The years are thieves that from the sleeping take
The goods of life and leave the pains.

She dances now as grace herself would dance,
If goddesses should dance with men.
But time will cripple grace or sudden chance
Undo the grace that might have been.

Permit a dozen years to mount attack,
And love itself will falter in the rout.
Unanchored ships are blown to splintered wrack,
Although their rigging had been stout.

The time has passed to let affection float
Whichever way the currents fly.
The storms draw near. With chains secure the boat,
Or let another sailor try!

Now that your witching ways have snared my heart
Till my one pleasure is your smile,
Let no reluctance keep our souls apart,
But come and love with me awhile.

Is my request so hard that when I speak
Your lips draw back from me and frown?
When I say “love”, do you fear that I seek
A half-night's pleasure in the town?

Do you remember vows declared before
By suitors gone with morning birds?
Then scant my vows, but hear when I implore
With love embodying more than words.

A vision glows within my soul, where we
Together roam, together run
From east to west, and where we go I see
No gloomy night, no hidden Sun -

But nature greeting us with larks and rills,
With leaf-filled bowers for our sleep,
With Sun-flecked days and ever-beckoning hills
To climb and chance-found gold to keep.

Bound not by promises but by the life
We interchange in every kiss,
We laugh at other sweethearts' vows and strife
And quarrel in nothing - save in this:

Each day to love each other more tenderly
Than yesterday, to grant the desire
The other feels before ‘tis felt, and be
A warming, not a burning fire.

So should we live if you would join with me,
Dull work and duller past behind.
Come!  Be rewarded for your witchery
With love forever true and kind.

O little moon, whom I once spied
Eclipsed by that well-painted Sun
That hid your glory as sands hide
A diamond in a layer of dun:

O little moon, I looked at you.
I saw light dance about your head.
(I thank the kindly breeze that blew
A ringlet to your lips of red.)

O little moon, you used no art,
But when you smiled, I knew that soon
Your fairer light would warm my heart,
Occulting sunbeams with the moon.

Reflect sometime, sweet honeybee,
Who love the flowers and sip their dew.
Consider, when the blossoms see
Your graceful flight from bud to tree,
They may admire and feel some love for you.

They may admire, although you know
A flower’s nerves are sluggish things
That cannot notice when you go,
Nor think of why you treat them so,
Nor beg another touch of silken wings.

There was one bud you idly kissed,
A new-sprung rose that sadly missed
Your soft imprint when it was gone.
As long-bound captives wait for dawn,
So do its petals still persist
In yearning for that kiss withdrawn -
Your living touch that wilts the cheerful lawn.

Forgotten now, that lawn is gray
As some bleak cell where violent crime
Must suffer loss of joy and day.
I wither since you passed my way;
And how and why, sweet girl, reflect sometime.

So close to nothing now, a dwindled, unseen sphere,
I press my elements into a blackened bier.
Electrons, protons, neutrons, like sand fused into glass,
Like silver coins in forges, are melted in the mass -
A single whirling atom that holds its heat and light,
A solar system’s graveyard, a blacker hole than night.

Yet once I filled a sky, and. once the race that trod
My greenest planet’s soil adored me as a god.

The breeze has lifted up her curls.
Through rustling strands, the leaves are blowing--
Red leaves, gold leaves are twined in swirls,
And like a wood-nymph shape she whirls
As if her tresses were soft branches growing.

She danced that night, but danced no more,
No more across the woodlawn leaping.
She dashed and splashed down to the shore,
Where, shaking out her hair before,
She gave her body to the waves for keeping.

Some while the strands were mixed with foam;
Some while her lips with song were calling.
She sang of countries far from home,
Of pilgrims’ dreams, of knights who roam,
And girlish daydreams lost and falling. . . falling.

The flowers I smiled at when Springtime was blooming,
The flowers I fancied I one day might pluck,
Are whispering away in the breezes of Summer
With laughing dream visions of Fairies and Puck.

The dreams I invented are dazzling with actors.
In silks and in jewelry, they dance nights away;
But I do no dancing; I gaze at the patterns
Of fantasy footsteps I chased yesterday.

Now yesterday's follies seem wiser than wisdom.
The revery lingers, less dreamy than life.
I chose my affliction - no use in complaining.
If only this peace were more placid than strife!

The reason for love, the reason I adore you,
The reason why my arms are longing to explore you
     Lies not in your charms. . . .
There’s some other reason, some other reason
     For love.

The reason for love, the reason you enthrall me,
The reason why your face with one sweet smile can call me
     Lies not in your grace. . . .
There’s some other reason, some other reason
     For love.

If love is simply a meeting of mind
Or attraction to beauty, then why is love blind?
Why don’t we all love exactly the same girl,
The prettiest miss, the bright hall-of-fame girl?
There’s some other reason, some other reason
     For love.

And why do we keep up a love past its prime
To still kiss a darling now ravaged by time?
Why doesn’t affection die out as years pass,
The graybeard’s intentions fix on a new lass?
There’s some other reason, some other reason
     For love.

And, finally, why is my love more for you
Than for equally charming nymphs whom I view?
Why is this emotion so cold or so burning
That you alone, sweetheart, can set my soul yearning?
There’s some other reason, some other reason
     For love.

The reason for love, the reason love enfolds us,
The reason for the way the flame of heaven molds us,
     No mortal can say. . . .
For love is the reason, the only true reason
     For love.

The roads we have travelled together are old,
Their courses familiar from hillside to dell.
The tale is tiring, too many times told;
The time is now coming to bid you farewell.

Glad were the days that we journeyed together
Through summer’s gay greens and through autumn’s soft reds.
We tramped through the grasslands and slept in the heather
And mocked at the darkening clouds o’er our heads.

But gladness has withered, and gaiety palls.
The branches are shaking; the storm clouds descend.
Comrade, companion, the first leaf now falls,
The hint that our journey together must end.

Someday, when mountains and rivers are crossed,
In some newer springtime, we may meet again.
What now has faded can never be lost -
I pray you remember our travels till then.

There was a lass - you did not think
A man could grow so old and pale
As I am now and never drink
A mug or two of Cupid’s ale?

I will not talk of how we met
Or how I wooed and thought I’d won
Or how she spoke kind words and let
Me kiss her in the setting Sun.

She grew within my inner world
Till all was her or not worth thought.
Then came the day she idly hurled
My hopes and heart and dreams to nought.

How softly did she turn to me
To say that, ever since she came,
Her thoughts had been but sisterly,
Her passion just a woman’s game.

She was not cruel; she did not seek
To leave me hopeless and forlorn,
Yet all the harsh words tongues could speak
Were better than her gentle scorn.

So, saddened, I put hope aside,
Still loving her without a word,
And stayed her friend till friendship died.
Where she went then, I have not heard.

And how is it I never sought
Another love?  None could replace
The memory, with teardrops bought,
Of her lost eyes and perfect face.

Those years I yearned for her,
Those crazy, fractured years
Of fantasies and fears -
How could they slip away?

Those years she held my heart
And rolled it in her hand,
Those years we dreamed and planned -
Can they be just “the past”?

Today I asked my heart,
“Where did your grieving go?
“Why aren’t you wreathed in woe?
“Was your sorrow just a song?”

Then answered back my heart,
“How odd you should complain.
“What did you ever gain
“From all your sighs and tears?”

My heart perhaps is wise,
Far wiser than my head,
Remembering how it bled
Before she turned away.

The wisdom of my heart
Forbids me to regret,
And so I won’t, and yet,
How can she be “the past”?

Tonight your eyes will be my polar star,
Your lips the happy landfall that I sail
Across a perfumed sea to claim.
Your hands will waft my ship across the far,
Untracked sea roads, or roll me in a gale
To secret shores no tongue dares name.

At journey’s end, I’ll gather up your hair,
More precious than the gems of heathen shrines,
And weave an altar of its strands.
With your consent, I shall devote my care
To worship at that hearth, till Fate inclines
My bark’s last voyage to stranger lands.

Upon earth’s hills the flowers sway,
And over them fly peaceful doves,
Combining on this pleasant day
To call back memories of loves
     Upon earth’s hills.

The birds sing sweet within the trees,
Yet scarcely sweet beside the bride
With whom I shared a soothing breeze,
For when she smiled, on every side
     The birds were sweet.

We met at eve, in pasteled light,
When trilled the nightingale and lark.
When she was gay and dressed in white
And I was stumbling in the dark,
     We met at eve.

I kissed her hand and touched her hair.
We laughed a little by the way.
Although the universe grew bare
And slowly sank the hopes of day,
     I kissed her hand.

Let others dream of clefts on Mars
Or search the planets strewn above.
I shall retire from mankind’s wars
And of all things (except my love)
     Let others dream.

We might have lived six worlds apart,
Unknown, unknowing - happy, then?
I might have loved - who knows what heart?
You might have charmed - who knows what men?

Instead, the accident of birth
(How glad that accident once seemed!)
Made us companions on one Earth,
And as companions once we dreamed.

Our dreams were tender, passion's fruit,
Yet tainted with an aftertaste,
A dram of eale, wormwood root,
Corroding tenderness to waste.

We balanced how we worked and played,
Avoiding strain, deploring fuss.
We smiled and chattered while we made
The wall that separated us.

With duty done, two strangers shared
An empty room, a vacant heart.
What mattered that their lives were paired?
They might have lived six worlds apart.

When Guinevere was sweet and young,
The toast of every minstrel’s tongue,
And skylarks soared to hear her sung,
     I first loved Guinevere.

When Guinevere was fully grown,
Her charms like rosy petals strown
To make what man she would her own
     I courted Guinevere.

When Guinevere gave her decree
That she would love one faithfully,
And when that one - he was not me. . . .
     I pined for Guinevere.

When Guinevere is weary, worn,
Her beauty fragile and forlorn,
Then in life’s eve as at its morn
     I’ll still love Guinevere.

Where dwells my darling? There on the mountains;
Pine trees around her, she waits till I come.
Oak trees are fading, slow run the fountains,
But pine trees surround her - she waits till I come.

There on the mountains, verdant and golden,
Autumn continues while she waits for me.
Winter is nearing, Spring is now olden,
Yet Autumn continues while she waits for me.

Verdant and golden: fear not the snowing.
Winter is checked by the glance of your face.
Still through the foothills south winds are blowing,
For winter is checked by the glance of your face.

Fear not the snowing where dwells my darling,
So long as the mountains grow green with the pines.
Crickets are singing, no flakes are falling
And long will the mountains grow green with the pines.

Why did you smile? Why lure me here
To wait with hopes that time betrays?
Why sicken boyish dreams of cheer
That you have sown this half a year
Through our love’s summer days?

Now blist’ring where they used to bless,
Your honeyed kisses turn to bile,
And ashen is the happiness
That folded me in your caress
And sparkled in your smile.

Your play is done - you spoke your part,
Feigning the love I longed to know.
You now explain it was all art;
You never meant to touch my heart.
You shake my hand and go,

While I remain upon the stage,
Dissolving as the floodlight dies,
Too numb for pain, too hurt for rage,
Desiring only that this age
Might end at once and time’s new page
Turn this world’s truth to lies.

<Return to Top of Page>