The Death of Circe

By George Sterling

    Plotting by night her death,
The god rechanted that Aeaean rune,
Till men beheld a vapor dim the moon
    With grey, demoniac breath.

    When charm and rune were whole,
He brought that golden one a golden flagon,
Made in the image of a writhing dragon,
    With teeth that clutched the bowl.

    He poured vermilion wine
In that pale cup, to god or faun forbid,
Knowing the witch knew not the venom hid
    In that red anodyne.

    He gave the witch, who quaffed
And, drinking, dreamt not who had poured for her,
Nor why the cup came redolent of myrrh,
    Nor why her leopard laughed:

    Nor felt, from floor to dome,
Her high pavilion quiver on the dark,
Ere, with an augury too dim to mark,
    A quiet lapped her home.

    In all her magic craft
There lay no power to warn her to beware
The bitter drop from Lethe mingled there
    Within the traitor draught.

    But ere a pang of fright
Could wake, or he be bidden to depart,
There broke a little wound above her heart,
    From which the blood dripped bright.

    And heaven and earth grew dim,
While round the throne there gleamed a coral flood,
From her who knew not why the forfeit blood
    Fell lyrical for him.

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