Poems

An Evening’s Love

After the pangs of a desperate lover,
When day and night I have sighed all in vain;
Ah, what a pleasure it is to discover
In her eyes pity, who causes my pain.

When, with unkindness, our love at a stand is,
And both have punished ourselves with its pain;
Ah, what a pleasure the touch of her hand is!
Ah, what a pleasure to press it again

When the denial comes fainter and fainter,
And her eyes give what her tongue does deny;
Ah, what a trembling I fell when I venture!
Ah, what a trembling does usher my joy.

When, with a sight she accords me the blessing,
And her eyes twinkle between pleasure and pain;
Ah, what a joy ‘tis, beyond all expressing!
Ah, what a joy to hear—Shall we again?

POEMS OF ECSTASY

To Ethel, with profound obeisance

How Come

I.

I don’t know how come,
I was born a man,
Like everyone else,
With flesh and with blood;
But in my heart there is something,
Something like a harp,
Trembling and playing.

I don’t know how come,
I see what others see,
That colorful play of dawn and twilight,
Alone am I, who stops awe-struck,
Dissolved in song.

I don’t know how come,
On moonlit nights,
I am full of tears and prayer;
But I have no breast for my glowing brow,
Nothing but a cold, white wall.

II.

It is never too late;
Let us both get together in a corner,
And weep over all the sweet twilights gone and lost,
And all the precious nights when we were lying in other arms,
Dissolved in lust

It is never too late;
Let us both tremulously count
The nights and twilights that are gone and lost,
Forever and ever

III.

My soul was born under the star of kingship,
Yet I carry no crown on my head.
No rows of guardsmen at midnight hover about me,
With sabers drawn in the darkness.
I am like a tree whose boughs are laden with roses,
Desolate on the crossroads, surrendered to storms

IV.

On nights like these,
When my soul in terror cowers,
When my heart is like a gruesome temple,
Enveloped in darkness, with no watchman on its towers

Then your voice comes to me from the distance.

Like the chime of magic bells;
You are the only light on my altar,
The only kernel within my shells

V.

Finale And for me is spread out a net of roads,
To the left and to the right.
I do not know where to go.
But one thing I know well:
Every road leads but to one and last world-road,
Death.

TO YONA

LINES OF SUPPLICATION ADDRESSED TO A YOUNG LADY IN BEHALF OF A DEAR FRIEND LANGUISHING IN SORROW

To me, poor mortal, a friendship has been given,
Which beyond all other to uphold I have striven.
A man, dare I use such a common appellation,
Attaching himself to me has earned my most humble veneration.
Alas, ‘tis but too audacious that such a poor poet as I am
Uninspired, by the muse spurned, in seraphic sweetness lacking,
Should take upon myself to plead this holy cause of causes,
To sing his praises in lavish terms and double dozes,
Of ineffable Mordecai, godlike, brilliant, and my friend.
Thrice blessed be his parents for such a construction,
For ‘tis most delightful to gaze upon their production.
And thus chanting his praises to thee, O most chaste virgin,
Immaculate, remote, and devoted to the cause of Hebrew Education,
The smiling recipient of happy laudation;
Popular amongst the women, by the girls not so beloved,
Yet the playmate of the lion, and akin to the leopard in colorful raiment.
Entreat thee I must, O cruel Enchantress,
My friend’s dire state your conscience must awaken;
That thou may’st look with pity upon his sadness,
And pitying smile, turning his grief into gladness.

Behold his sorrowful countenance, in tears dissolving,
The sallow complexion, the drooping willow-like figure.
‘Tis Mordecai, brilliant, godlike, and my friend,
The apostle to the yokels, a legend in the making.
Alas, ‘tis but the pale remnant of his former stout self,
For in gruesome darkness his soul is groping,
Thy voluptuous body’s charms seeking,
Even like a tall stately oak tree,
Alone on the crest of a hill a he-man’s life leading,
Secure, indomitable, and full of sap,
Is suddenly flayed by the biting East wind,
Then the skies darkening, the clouds gathering,
The terrific thunder rattles, and amidst the storm,
A piercing shaft of lightning this tree to pieces shatters,
So Mordecai, proud, intellectual, full of sap,
Also godlike, brilliant, and my friend,
One fine day, methinks it was in the morning,
Thy beautiful countenance beholding, exclaimed,

This pale face, ‘tis my fate,
And henceforth, gone was his habitual composure,
The sting of desire solely he knows,
His duties as a principal to the wind he blows,
And from Socrates and Plato divorced, alas for the peer orphans,
He sees but thee and burns between Kandel’s sheets.

So, Yona, do not gather thy skirts about thee in prim and exasperating coldness.
Be generous to Mordecai, ‘tis not his fault he loves thee,
Canst thou blame him, once having gazed upon thy exotic radiance
And heard the sweet intonations of thy voice and manner,
entirely unaffected, akin to a child in innocent splendour,
Forego the Successful Henry, that valiant knight will dispense
Without thee
‘Tis Mordecai who needs thee, his gratitude will earn
Dare I hope, Yona, Shall I live to bring him the good tidings?

WHILE LOVING YOU

To Ethel

Turn to me, dear one, turn thy face,
And unveil for me in thine eyes, their grace,
Blest as an immortal God is he,
The youth whose eyes may look on thee,
Whose ears the tongue’s sweet melody
May still devour.

Fear of the Gods he seemeth to me, the blissful
Man who sits and gazes at thee before him,
Close besides thee sits, and in silence hears thee
Silverly speaking.

Beautiful maiden, once more
Thy needful presence I implore,
In pity come, and ease my grief,
Bring my distempered soul relief,
Favour thy suppliant’s hidden fires
And give me all my heart desires.

%d bloggers like this: