Senlin, A Biography: Part 02: His Futile Preoccupations - 08

A poem by Conrad Potter Aiken

The pale blue gloom of evening comes
Among the phantom forests and walls
With a mournful and rythmic sound of drums.
My heart is disturbed with a sound of myriad throbbing,
Persuasive and sinister, near and far:
In the blue evening of my heart
I hear the thrum of the evening star.
My work is uncompleted; and yet I hurry,
Hearing the whispered pulsing of those drums,
To enter the luminous walls and woods of night.
It is the eternal mistress of the world
Who shakes these drums for my delight.
Listen! the drums of the leaves, the drums of the dust,
The delicious quivering of this air!
I will leave my work unfinished, and I will go
With ringing and certain step through the laughter of chaos
To the one small room in the void I know.
Yesterday it was there,
Will I find it tonight once more when I climb the stair?
The drums of the street beat swift and soft:
In the blue evening of my heart
I hear the throb of the bridal star.
It weaves deliciously in my brain
A tyrannous melody of her:
Hands in sunlight, threads of rain
Against a weeping face that fades,
Snow on a blackened window-pane;
Fire, in a dusk of hair entangled;
Flesh, more delicate than fruit;
And a voice that searches quivering nerves
For a string to mute.

My life is uncompleted: and yet I hurry
Among the tinkling forests and walls of evening
To a certain fragrant room.
Who is it that dances there, to a beating of drums,
While stars on a grey sea bud and bloom?
She stands at the top of the stair,
With the lamplight on her hair.
I will walk through the snarling of streams of space
And climb the long steps carved from wind
And rise once more towards her face.
Listen! the drums of the drowsy trees
Beating our nuptial ecstasies!
Music spins from the heart of silence
And twirls me softly upon the air:
It takes my hand and whispers to me:
It draws the web of the moonlight down.
There are hands, it says, as cool as snow,
The hands of the Venus of the sea;
There are waves of sound in a mermaid-cave;
Come, then, come with me!
The flesh of the sea-rose new and cool,
The wavering image of her who comes
At dusk by a blue sea-pool.
Whispers upon the haunted air,
Whisper of foam-white arm and thigh;
And a shower of delicate lights blown down
Fro the laughing sky! . . .
Music spins from a far-off room.
Do you remember, it seems to say,
The mouth that smiled, beneath your mouth,
And kissed you . . . yesterday?
It is your own flesh waits for you.
Come! you are incomplete! . . .
The drums of the universe once more
Morosely beat.
It is the harlot of the world
Who clashes the leaves like ghostly drums
And disturbs the solitude of my heart
As evening comes!
I leave my work once more and walk
Along a street that sways in the wind.
I leave these stones, and walk once more
Along infinity’s shore.
I climb the golden-laddered stair;
Among the stars in the void I climb:
I ascend the golden-laddered hair
Of the harlot-queen of time:
She laughs from a window in the sky,
Her white arms downward reach to me!
We are the universe that spins
In a dim ethereal sea.

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