Ballade Of Woman

A poem by Richard Le Gallienne

A woman! lightly the mysterious word
Falls from our lips, lightly as though we knew
Its meaning, as we say - a flower, a bird,
Or say the moon, the stream, the light, the dew,
Simple familiar things, mysterious too;
Or as a star is set down on a chart,
Named with a name, out yonder in the blue:
A woman - and yet how much more thou art!

So lightly spoken, and so lightly heard,
And yet, strange word, who shall thy sense construe?
What sage hath yet fit designation dared?
Yet I have sought the dictionaries through,
And of thy meaning found me not a clue;
Blessing and breaking still the firmest heart,
So fairy false, yet so divinely true:
A woman - and yet how much more thou art!

Mother of God, and Circe, bosom-bared,
That nursed our manhood, and our manhood slew;
First dream, last sigh, all the long way we fared,
Sweeter than honey, bitterer than rue;
Thou fated radiance sorrowing men pursue,
Thou art the whole of life - the rest but part
Of thee, all things we ever dream or do;
A woman - and yet how much more thou art!


Princess, that all this craft of moonlight threw
Across my path, this deep immortal smart
Shall still burn on when winds my ashes strew:
A woman - and yet how much more thou art!

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