Saturday, September 10, 2011

In the Gardens of Shushan / Marjorie Pickthall

In the Gardens of Shushan

Be pitiful! Her lips have touched this cool
Clear stream that sets the long green leaves astir.
The very doves that dream beside the pool
     Sang their soft notes to her.

For her these doors that claim the amorous south,
Bound in red bronze and stayed with cedar-wood.
And here the bees sought honey from her mouth,
     So like a flower she stood.

For her the globed pomegranates grew, and all
Sweet savoury fruits rose perfect from their flower.
Here has her soul known silence and the fall
     Of each enchanted hour.

Under her feet all beauty was laid low,
In her deep eyes all beauty was made clear.
When the king called her through the evening glow,
     “O Vashti, I am here!”

Still the sweet wells return to me her face,
Still her lost name on every wind is blown.
The shadows and the silence of this place
     Are hers alone.

Marjorie Pickthall
from The Drift of Pinions, 1913

[Poem is in the public domain in Canada, the United States, and the United Kingdom]

Marjorie Pickthall biography by George Dance

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