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A poem by Richard Le Gallienne

Alma Venus

Title:     Alma Venus
Author: Richard Le Gallienne [More Titles by Le Gallienne]

Only a breath--hardly a breath! The shore
Is still a huddled alabaster floor
Of shelving ice and shattered slabs of cold,
Stern wreckage of the fiercely frozen wave,
Gleaming in mailed wastes of white and gold;
As though the sea, in an enchanted grave,
Of fearful crystal locked, no more shall stir
Softly, all lover, to the April moon:
Hardly a breath! yet was I now aware
Of a most delicate balm upon the air,
Almost a voice that almost whispered "soon"!

Not of the earth it was--no living thing
Moves in the iron landscape far or near,
Saving, in raucous flight, the winter crow,
Staining the whiteness with its ebon wing,
Or silver-sailing gull, or 'mid the drear
Rock cedars, like a summer soul astray,
A lone red squirrel makes believe to play,
Nibbling the frozen snow.

Not of the earth, that hath not scent nor song,
Nor hope of aught, nor memory, nor dream,
Nor any speech upon its sullen tongue,
Nor any liberty of running stream;
Not of the earth, that hath forgot to smile;
But, strangely wafted o'er the frozen sea,
As from some hidden Cytherean isle,
Veil within veil, the sweetness came to me.

Beyond the heaving glitter of the floe,
The free blue water sparkles to the sky,
Losing itself in brightness; to and fro
Long bands of mists trail luminously by,
And, as behind a screen, on the sea's rim
Hid softnesses of sunshine come and go,
And shadowy coasts in sudden glory swim--
O land made out of distance and desire!--
With ports of mystic pearl and crests of fire.

Thence, somewhere in the spaces of the sea,
Travelled this halcyon breath presaging Spring;
Over the water even now secretly
She maketh ready in her hands to bring
Blossom and blade and wing;
And soon the wave shall ripple with her feet,
And her wild hair be blown about the skies,

And with her bosom all the world grow sweet,
And blue with the sea-blue of her deep eyes
The meadow, like another sea, shall flower,
And all the earth be song and singing shower;
While watching, in some hollow of the grass
By the sea's edge, I may behold her stand,
With rosy feet, upon the yellow sand,
Pause in a dream, and to the woodland pass.

[The end]
Richard Le Gallienne's poem: Alma Venus