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A poem by Madison Julius Cawein

As To A Nymph

Title:     As To A Nymph
Author: Madison Julius Cawein [More Titles by Cawein]


As to a Nymph in the ripple-ribbed body of ocean,
Down, down thro' vast stories of water, a hiss and devour
Electrify altitudes orbed,--pulses violent motion
Of Thunder, who treads the brute neck of the seas in his power,
Till their spine writhes lumped into waves,--the Nymph in her bower,
Rubbing moist sleep from her eyes, arises,--
Loosens the loops of her locks,
Loosens, and suddenly darts on the storm and surprises
The boisterous bands of the rocks,
That hoot to the riddling arrows of rain and of seas,
Mountainous these;--
Swirling and whirling,
She of the huge exultation beheld, with long tresses,
Dotted with bells of the hollow, hard foam, flung streaming,
Dives, bounds to the whirlwind embracing; then mockingly presses
Hair to wild face and wild throat, drifts desolate dreaming;
With scorn then laughing and screaming,
Discovers full beauty of nakedness leaping and gleaming;
And showering the rain from her hair,
Pouts blown, curdled foam from her lips,
And eddying slips,
From the ravenous eyes of the Thunder that glare,
Away, away,
To the arms of her lover the Spray.
So I,--
At swift thoughts that were spoken, that came
As if winds had fashioned a speech--was a flame
That dwindled, was kindled, then mounted and,
Marvelling why,--
Stemming all thought, a gleam out of gleams
Was born into dreams.


Beautiful-bosomed, O Night! with thy moon,
Move in majesty slowly to majesty lightly!
Silent as sleep, who is lulled by a delicate tune,
O'er-stroke thou the air with a languor of moonlight brightly!
Thin ice, in sockets of turquoise fastened, the stars
Gash golden the bosom of heaven with fiery scars.
Swoon down, O shadowy hosts,
O multitude ghosts,
Of the moonlight and starlight begotten!--Then swept
Whispers that sighed to me, sorrows that stealthily hovered,
Laughters with lips that were mist. And murmurings crept
On toward me feet that were glow; and faces uncovered,
Radiant and crystalline clear,
In tortuous, sinuous swirl of vapory pearl,
Waned near and more near.
Flashed faster a spiral of shapes and of shadows still faster,
On in a whirl of unutterable beauties by music expired,
That lived and desired,--
Born births of the brain of a rhapsody-reveling master;
And mine eyes, with their beauties infired,
Smiled scorn on dark Death and Disaster.

[The end]
Madison Julius Cawein's poem: As To A Nymph