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de CLEYRE, Voltairine “The Dirge of the Sea”
Article published on 17 September 2009
last modification on 25 April 2015

by r-c.
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From Selected Poems

You may also listen to this poem on the LibriVox website

Come! Come! I have waited long!
My love is old,
My arms are strong;
I would woo thee, now,
With the wave-kiss cold
On they pallid brow;
 
Thou art mine, thou art mine! My very own!
Thine ears shall hear
My eternal moan;
Always near
Thou’It feel my lips,
And the bathing tear
Where my sorrow drips.
 
Thou, my king forever, behold thy throne!
Reign in thy majesty, all alone.
 
None! None wept for thee,
Nearing the verge
Of eternity!
I, thy solemn dirge Will chant for eye
Wide as the wave-merge
Into sky.
 
I love thee! Thou art my chosen own!
Thy heart, like mine,
Was cold as stone,
Thine eyes could shine
Like my blue waves fair;
Thy lips, like wine,
Curved to kisses rare!!
 
Hard as my waves were the eyes that shone,
And the wine as deadly! Come, love, alone!
Float! Float, on the swelling wave!
Long is the hearse,
Wide the grave;
Thy pall is a curse
From the fading shore
A broken verse
From a heart wrung sore!
 
"Life’s stream’s wreck-strown!" Ah, like my own!
The words are low
As a dying groan;
The voice thrills so,
It might rouse thy breast
With pity’s glow,
Wert thou like the rest!
But thou, my hero, wert never known
To feel as a human; thou stoodst, alone.
 
Down! Down! Behold the wrecks!
I strew the deep
With these human specks!
No faith I keep
With their moral trust;
See how I heap
Their crumbling dust!
 
I sneered in their faces, my own, my own,
As they knelt to pray
When the ships went down;
I flung my spray
In their dying eyes,
And laughed at the way
It drowned their cries!
 
On the shore they heard the exultant tone,
And said: "The Sea laughs." Ah, I laughed alone.
 
Now! Now, we twain shall go,
Love-locked,
Laughing so! The fools ye mocked
With your tender eyes,
The trusts ye rocked With your cradling lies,
 
E’en like these wretches, my own, my own,
Shall rot in clay
Or crumbled bone,
Thou shalt hold thy way,
Day-kissed and fair,
Where the wild waves play
In the sun-thick air!
 
My arms, my kiss, my tears, my moan,
Ye shall know for aye, where we wander lone.
Love! Love! Thou wert like to me!
Thy luring gaze
Rolled relentlessly!
The marsh-light blaze
To some human soul,
Down the darkn’ing maze
To Ruin’s goal.
 
Ah, how ye crushed them, my beautiful own!
Like whistled leaves
Around thee stown,
Whirled the dead beliefs
Of each long-mourned life!
Here, no one grieves:
Neither tears nor strife
 
Appeal to the Sea, where its wrecks are thrown!
Thou shalt stand in their midst, and smile, alone!
 
Laugh! Laugh! O form of light!
Death hides
Thy faithless sight!
The flowing tides
Of thy heart are still;
Yet are wrecks thy brides,
For it is my will
 
That that which on earth made thy heaven,
my own,
May strew around
Thy eternal throne!
The gurgling sound
Of the dying cry,
The gushing wound
Of heart-agony,
 
Were thy joy in life! Now the Sea makes known
Thy realm in death! Thy heaven, alone!
 
Years! Years, ye shall mix with me!
Ye shall grow a part
Of the laughing Sea;
Of the moaning heart
Of the glittered wave
Of the sun-gleam’s dart
In the ocean-grave.
 
Fair, cold, and faithless wert thou, my own!
For that I love
Thy heart of stone!
From the heights above
To the depths below,
Where dread things move,
 
There is naught can show
A life so trustless! Proud be thy crown!
Ruthless, like none, save the Sea, alone!
 
— April 1891

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