To His Love Instead Of A Promised Picture-Book

A poem by Edward Powys Mathers

The greater and the lesser ills:
He waved his grey hand wearily
Back to the anger of the sea,
Then forward to the blue of hills.

Out from the shattered barquenteen
The black frieze-coated sailors bore
Their dying despot to the shore
And wove a crazy palanquin.

They found a valley where the rain
Had worn the fern-wood to a paste
And tiny streams came down in haste
To eastward of the mountain chain.

And here was handiwork of Cretes,
And olives grew beside a stone,
And one slim phallos stood alone
Blasphemed at by the paroquets.

Hard by a wall of basalt bars
The night came like a settling bird,
And here he wept and slept and stirred
Faintly beneath the turning stars.

Then like a splash of saffron whey
That spills from out a bogwood bowl
Oozed from the mountain clefts the whole
Rich and reluctant light of day.

And when he neither moved nor spoke
And did not heed the morning call,
They laid him underneath the wall
And wrapped him in a purple cloak.

From the Modern Persian.

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