Saturday, April 8, 2017

Le Sacre du Printemps / W.J. Turner

Le Sacre du Printemps

Spring trembles on the hills and though the earth
Is grey and dark with silence and dim rains
Long bands of red and yellow ochre lie
Like corybants enswathed in vivid sashes
Under the soil that's fragrant with their presence.
The Winter widow-stolèd, grey and white,
Leans across hill and valley pensively
Weeping to leave those quiet, sober plains
Where gentle melancholy drapes her robes
In cloud and dripping wood. She is not mute,
But all her soul is gentle; reverie
In tracts of cool rain-washed reflected light
Is more delectable to her than songs
Of any passion. When, dismayed, she hears
That note of longing bubbling to the sky
Shiv'ring she turns, retires with decent train
And leaves the earth all breathless, panting hard.
Quickened with such mad trembling ecstasy
Those corybants arise, yellow and red,
And shake their vivid sashes o'er the land;
The world holds breath a moment; then they dance,
Dance madly, whirling millions springing up
Tossing slim heads, their naked beauty bare
Intoxicating the blue laughing sky
To foam imagination — Cumuli,
Cloud-white creations frothed in empty space,
So insubstantial, of such dream-like weight
That if they moved they'd vanish. Then Desire
That sucks a wraith-like beauty visible
From nothingness, and out of ordure vile
Summons bright Forms to press against the wind
Their all-too-fleeting Symmetry,
Wakes in the hearts of men and scatters seeds
Of poignant loveliness so sweet, so rare
That springing up in some far-distant time
The world will dance in sharper ecstasy,
Flowers will be taller, cities hang like blooms
Upon the breast of earth, and men and women,
Like Gods in dazzling beauty, arm in arm,
White flesh to white flesh, bathe in sapphire seas
And rapturously hunt the spirit's jewel.
Green gleam of mariners that beckons far
More beautiful than purple-furrowed oceans
Or emerald isles — but hidden in their eyes
So that they never find its dwelling-place
Or cry Eureka! resting on their oars.

W.J. Turner (1889-1946)
from The Hunter, and other poems, 1916

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

W.J. Turner biography

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