To Vera (Birthday Ode)

By George Sterling

Of my heart and its fears,
    Stand, oh! stand in thy southern tow'r!
Hide with thy glory the lesser stars!
        Now is thine hour,—
Now, and for all of the indiscernible years!
    The sea on its granite bars
And the night-wind lost in the ruthless skies
    Make bitter music under the dark,
With ominous murmur and mighty sighs.
    But I linger not to hark,
For I would plunge in the waters of sleep,—
Go down, far down, in that phantom deep,
    Then rise to another land
    To find thee mortal and warm,
    To walk with thee hand in hand,
    With thy crystalline shield put by
And the icy mail afar from thy maiden form—
    Thou and I, thou and I!

Moon of me, moon of my loner ways,
    Must it ever be thus?
Shall I find thee only for days,
When I crave the years and the living light of thy face
        In an island marvellous,
In the hush and gloom of an inaccessible place?
        Must thou ever be moon,
Tho I dream of a mortal breast and the snows thereof?
    Must it ever be noon,
Tho I dream of the twilight laid on our garden of love?
    O lips that cling for an hour,
But hunger for years and the gods' duration of joy!
    O scarlet, terrible flow'r,
Built out of our blood ere the voiceless gods destroy!

Moon of me, moon of the wild and perilous night,
    Wilt thou always gleam
On the heavy rose of ray passionate bower of dream,
Thou so far, and I so fain of thy light?
    Shall it be that my shackles fall,
And I go up alive to thy wonderful height?
    Or yet shall another call
    In the untrod valleys of Time,
    And thou answer, and he climb
To the rays and dews and dusk of thy heavenly place?
Am I mate of thy flesh and soul, or vision-led?
And who am I, that I claim thy beauty and grace,
And what to thee when a score of Springs have fled?

Waits he afar in the mist, that rival of mine,
    The soul made worthy of thee,
Strong and glad with his youth's imperial wine?
    The speech of the wind and sea
    Is loud and dreadful to-night—
    They cry as in woe to me:
    'How few are the years and fleet
    Ere thou passest, as pass thou must!'
    Alas! for the seasons' flight,
And the time to come when ashes and ashes meet,
    And there wakes no voice for my dust
Save that in thy heart, O Sweet!

Moon of me, moon of the sea that shakes in my soul,
    Canst thou tell of our goal—
Thou who art haled with me on the path of the sun?
Put by thine armor and arrows and gaze with me
Ere morning break and the night go down to the sea,
    And the starry toil be done!
The legions of light pass on to the hollow West-
    Soundless, ordered and slow.
Shall the mountain heed the bird that sings on its breast,
        Sad and low,
    Or the high, implacable stars
Be stayed for the distant cry of a mortal's woe?
    They lean far forth in their cars;
    Their eyes look forward to death;
    Their steeds are tireless and strong;
    The worlds reel back at the breath
    And pulse of their battle-song.
    We shall get no pity from those.

Nay, it is thou and I alone in the night,
    And my very friends were foes
Could they see my face upturned to thy silver light,
    And hear me cry: 'How long!'
    It is thou and I alone;
So come, oh! come from thy southern height!
    Let thy heavenly lips atone
And our bliss be pledge of a deeper bliss to be!
    Thou art mine, tho none aid;
I am thine, tho thy lamp go down to the solemn sea.
    Ah! come in thy love to me —
Breast unto breast and spirit to spirit laid!

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