Selected Writings of Wm Sharp, Vol. 1, Poems

from

SOSPIRI DI ROMA

 

THE  MANDOLIN

Tinkle-trink, tinkle-trink, trinkle-trinkle, trink!
Hark, the mandolin!
Through the dusk the merry music falleth sweet.
Where the fountain falls,
Where the fountain falls all shimmering in
     the moonshine white,
Tinkle-trink, tinkle-trink, trinkle-trinkle, trink!
Where the wind-stirred olives quiver,
Quiver, quiver, leaves a-quiver,
White as silver in the moonlight but like
    bat-wings in the dusk,
Where the great grey moths sail slowly
Slowly, slowly, like faint dreams
In the wildering woods of Sleep,
Where no night or day is,
But only, in dim twilights, the wan sheen
Of the Moon of Sleep.

Hark, the mandolin!
Where the dark-coned cypress rises,
Thin, more thin, till threadlike, wavering
The last spray soars up as smoke,
As a vanishing breath of incense,
To the silent stars that glimmer
In the veil of purple darkness,
The deep vault of heaven that seemeth
As a veil that falleth,
A dark veil that foldeth gently
The tired day-worn world, breathing stilly
    as a sleeping child.
Hark, the Mandolin:
And a soft low sound of laughter!
Tinkle-trink, tinkle-trink, trinkle-trinkle, trink!

Hush: from out the cypress standing
Black against the yellow moonlight
What a thrill, what a sob, what a sudden
    rapture flung
Athwart the dark!
Passion of song!
Silence again, save 'mid the whispering leaves
The unquiet wind, that as the tide.
Cometh and goeth.
Now one long thrilling note, prolonged and sweet,
And then a low swift stir, A whirr of fluttering wings,
And, in the laurels near, two nested nightingales!
Loud, loud, the mandolin,
Tinkle-trink, tinkle-trink, trinkle-trinkle, trink!
Trink, trink, trinkle-trink!
Through the fragrant silent night it draweth
near,
Ali, the low cry, the little laugh, the rustle
Tinkle-trink---hush, a kiss---tinkle-trink,---
    hush---hush---
Trinkle-trinkle, trinkle-trink, trinkle-trinkle, trink
!

Where the shadows massed together
Make a hollow darkness, girt
By the yellow flood of moonshine floating by,
Where the groves of ilex whisper
In the silence, fragrant, sweet,
Where the ilexes are dreaming
In their depths of darkest shadow,
Move the fireflies slowly,
Mazily inweaving,
Interweaving, interflowing
Wandering fires, like little lanterns
Borne by souls of birds and flowers
Seeking ever resurrection
In the gladsome world of sunshine
Seekly vainly through the darkness
In beneath the ilex-branches
Where the very moonshine faileth,
And the dark grey moths wave wanly
Flitting from the outer gloaming.
Oh, the fragrance, and the mystery, and the silence!
Where the fireflies, 'mid the ilex,
Rise and fall, recross, inweave
In an endless wavy motion,
In a slow aerial dancing
In a maze of little flames
In and out the ilex-branches:
Hush! the mandolin!
Louder still, and louder, louder:
Ah, the happy laugh, and rustle,
Rustle, rustle,
Ah, the kiss, the cry, the rapture.
Silence, where the ilex-branches
Loom out faintly from their darkness
Where, slow-wandering flames, the fireflies
Rise and fall, recross, inweave
In an endless wavy motion,
In a slow aerial dancing.

Silence: not a breath is stirring
Not a leaflet quivers faintly.
Silence: even the bats are silent
Wheeling swiftly through the upper air,
Where the gnat's thin shrilling music
Fades into the flooding moonlight:
Hush, low whispered words and kisses,
Hush, a cry of pain, of rapture.
Not a sound, a sound thereafter,
But a low sweet sigh of breathing,
And, from out the flowering laurel,
Just a twittering breath of music,
Just a long-drawn pulsing note
Of a sweet and passionate answer.
Silence: hark, a stir-low laughter
Whispered words-and rustle-rustle
Trink---trink---the mandolin!
Hark, it trinkles down the valley,
Trink-trink, trinkle-trink, trinkle-trink!
Past the citrus, blooming whitely,
Past the oleander-bushes
Past the ilexes and olives;
Where the two tall pines are whispering
With the sleepy wind that foldeth
His tired pinions ere he sleepeth
On the flood of amber moonlight.
Wind o' the night, tired wind o' night---
Tinkle-trink, trink, trinkle-trink,
Trink, trinkle-trink,
Trink!

BAT-WINGS

Flitter, flitter, through the twilight,
Pipistrello:
Where the moonshine glitters
Waver thy swart wings,
Darting hither, thither,
Swift as wheeling swallow.
Where the shadows gather
In and out thou flittest,
Flitter, flitter,
Waver, waver,
Pipistrello.
Thin thy faint aerial song is,
Thin and fainter than the shrilling
Of the gnats thou chasest wildly,
But how delicately dainty---
Thin and faint and wavering also,
In the high sweet upper air,
Where the gnats weave endless mazes
In their pyramidal dances---
And thy dusky wings go flutter,
Flutter, flutter,
Waver, waver,
But without a sound or rustle
Through the purple air of twilight.
Flitter, flitter, flutter, flitter,
Pipistrello.

LA VELIA

(The Sea-Gull : Pontine Marshes)

Here where the marsh
Waves white with ranunculus,
Where the yellow daffodil
Flieth his banner
In the fetid air,
And oft 'mid the bulrushes
Rustleth the porcupine
Or surgeth the boar--
Though bloweth rarely
The fresh wind,
The Tramontana,
And only Scirocco
Heavily lifts
The feathery plumes the tall canes carry
What dost thou here,
O bird of the ocean?
Here, where the marshes
Are never stirred
With foam, and splendour
Of rolling waves:
And loud on my ears (O the longing, the yearning)
When thy cry filled the silence,
Came the surge of the sea
And the tumult of waters.

SPUMA DAL MARE

   (On the Latin Coast)

Flower o' the wave,
White foam of the waters,
The many-coloured:
Here blue as a hare-bell,
Here pale as the turquoise
Here green as the grasses
Of mountain hollows,
Here lucent as jade when wet in the sun-shine,
Here paler than apples ere ruddied by autumn.
Depths o'the purple
Amethyst yonder,
Yonder as ling on the hills of October,
With shadows as deep,
Where islets of sea-wrack
Wave in the shallows,
As the sheen of the feathers
On the blue-green breast
Of the bird of the Orient,
The splendid peacock.
Foam o'the waves,
White crests ashine
With a dazzle of sunlight
Here the low breakers are rolling through shallows,
Yellow and muddied, the hue of the topaz
Ere cut from the boulder;
Save when the sunlight swims through them slantwise,
When inward they roll
Long billows of amber,
Crowned with pale yellow
And grey-green spume.
Here wan grey their slopes
Where the broken lights reach them,
Dull grey of pearl, and dappled, and darkling,
As when 'mid the high
Northward drift of the clouds,
Scirocco bloweth
With soft fanning breath.

Foam o' the waves,
Blown blossoms of ocean,
White flowers of the waters,
The many-coloured.

THE BATHER

Where the sea-wind ruffles
The pale pink blooms
Of the fragrant Daphne,
And passeth softly
Over the sward
Of the cyclamen-blossoms,
The Bather stands.
Rosy white, as a cloud at the dawning,
Silent she stands,
And looks far seaward,
As a seabird, dreaming
On some lone rock,
Poiseth his pinions
Ere over the waters
He moves like a vision
On motionless wings.

Beautiful, beautiful,
The sunlit gleam
Of her naked body,
Ivory-white 'mid the cyclamen-blossoms
A wave o' the sea 'mid the blooms of the Daphne.
Blue as the innermost heart of the ocean
The arch of the sky where the wood runneth seaward,
Blue as the depths of the innermost heaven
The vast heaving breast of the slow-moving waters:
Green the thick grasses that run from the woodland,
Green as the heart of the foam-crested billows
Curving a moment ere washing far inland
Up the long reach of the sands gleaming golden.
The land-breath beareth
Afar the fragrance
Of thyme and basil
And clustered rosemary
And o'er the fennel,
And through the broom,
It floateth softly,
As the wind of noon,
That cometh and goeth
Though none hearkens
Its downy wings.
And keen, the seawind
Bears up the odours
Of blossoming pinks
And salt rock-grasses,
Of rustling seaweed
And mosses of pools
Where the rosy blooms
Of the sea-flowers open
'Mid stranded waves.
As a water-lily
Touched by the breath
Of sunrise-glory,
Moveth and swayeth
With tremulous joy,
So o'er the sunlit
White gleaming body
Of the beautiful bather
Passeth a quiver
Rosy-white, as a cloud at the dawning,
Poised like a swallow that meetetli the wind,
For a moment she standeth
Where the sea-wind softly
Moveth over
The thick pink sward of the cyclamen blossoms.
Moveth and rustleth
With faint susurrus
The pale pink blooms
Of the fragrant Daphne.

THE WILD MARE

Like a breath that comes and goes
O'er the waveless waste
Of sleeping Ocean,
So sweeps across the plain
The herd of wild horses.
Like banners in the wind
Their flying tails,
Their streaming manes:
And like spume of the sea
Fang'd by breakers,
The white froth tossed from their blood-red nostrils,
Out from the midst of them
Dasheth a white mare,
White as a swan in the pride of her beauty
And, like the whirlwind,
Following after,
A snorting stallion,
Swart as an Indian
Diver of coral!
Wild the gyrations,
The rush and the whirl
Loud the hot panting
Of the snow-white mare,
As swift upon her
The stallion gaineth:
Fierce the proud snorting
Of him, victorious
And loud, swelling loud on the wind from the mountains,
The hoarse savage tumult of neighing and stamping
Where, wheeling, the herd of wild horses awaiteth---
Ears thrown back, tails thrashing their flanks or swept under---
The challenging scream of the conqueror stallion.

SCIROCCO

     (June)

Softly as feathers
That fall through the twilight
When wild swans are winging
Back to the northward:
Softly as waters,
Unruffled, and tideless,
Laving the mosses
Of inland seas:
Soft through the forest
And down through the valley,
Light as a breath o'er the pools of the marish,
Still as a moonbeam over the pastures,
Goeth Scirocco.

Warm his breath
The night-flowers know it,
Love it, and open
Their blooms for its sweetness
Warm the tender low wind of his pinions
Scarce brushing together the spires of the grasses:
Ah, how they whisper, the little green leaflets
Black in the dusk or grey in the moonlight:
Ah, how they whisper and shiver, the tremulous
Leaves of the poplar, and shimmer and rustle
When soft as a vapour that steals from the marshes
The wings of Scirocco fan silently through them.

Oft-times he lingers
By ruined nests
Deep in the hedgerows,
And bloweth a feather
In little eddies,
A yellow feather
That once had fluttered
On a breast alive with
A rapture of song:
But slowly ceaseth,
And passeth sadly.
Oft-times he riseth
Up through the branches
Where the fireflies wander
Up-through the branches
Of oak and chestnut,
And stirs so gently
With sway of his wings
That the leaves, dreaming,
Think that a moonbeam
Only, or moonshine,
Moves through the heart of them.
Upward he soareth
Oft, silently floating
Through the purple Šther,
Still as the fern-owl over the covert,
Or as allocco haunting the woodland,
Up to the soft curded foam of the cloudlets,
The white dappled cloudlets the southwind bringeth.
There, dreaming, he moveth
Or sails through the moonlight,
Till chill in the high upper air and the silence,
Slowly he sinketh
Earthward again,
Silently floateth
Down o'er the woodlands:
Foldeth his wings and slow through the branches
Drifts, scarcely breathing,
Till tired 'mid the flowers or the hedgerows he creepeth,
Whispers alow'mid the spires of the grasses,
Or swooning at last to motionless slumber
Floats like a shadow adrift on the pastures.

THE WIND AT FIDENAE

Fresh from the Sabines,
The Beautiful Hills,
The wind bloweth.
Down o'er the slopes,
Where the olives whiten
As though the feet
Of the wind were snow-clad:
Out o'er the plain
Where a paradise
Of wild blooms waveth,
And where, in the sunswept
Leagues of azure,
A thousand larks are
As a thousand founts
'Mid the perfect joy of
The depth of heaven.
Swift o'er the heights,
And over the valleys
Where the grey oxen sleepily stand,
Down, like a wild hawk swooping earthward,
Over the winding reaches of Tiber,
Bloweth the wind!
How the wind bloweth,
Here on the steeps of
Ancient Fidenae,
Where no voice soundeth
Now, save the shepherd
Calling his sheep;
And where none wander
But only the cloud-shadows,
Vague ghosts of the past.
Sweet and fresh from the Sabines,
Now as of yore,
When Etruscan maidens
Laughed as their lovers
Mocked the damsels
Of alien Rome,
Sweet with the same young breath o' the world
Bloweth the wind.

SORGENDO DA LUNA

No sound,
Save the hush'd breath,
The slowly flowing,
The long and low withdrawing breath of Rome.
Not a leaf quivers, where the dark,
With eyes of rayless shadow and rnoonlit hair,
Dreams in the black
And hollow cavernous depth of the ilextrees.
No sound,
Save the hush'd breath of Rome,
And sweet and fresh and clear
The bubbling, swaying, ever quavering jet
Of water fill'd with pale nocturnal gleams,
That, in the broad low fount,
Falleth,
Falleth and riseth,
Riseth and falleth, swayeth and surgeth; ever
A spring of life and joy where ceaselessly
The shadow of two sovran powers make
A terror without fear, a night that hath no dark,
Time, with his sunlit wings,
Death, with his pinions vast and duskily dim:
Time, breathing vanishing life
Death, breathing low
From twilights of Oblivion whence Time rose
A wild and wandering star forlornly whirled,
Seen for a moment, ere for ever lost.
Up from the marble fount
The water leaps,
Sways in the moonshine, springeth, springeth,
Falleth and riseth,
Like sweet faint lapping music,
Soft gurgling notes of woodland brooks that wander
Low laughing where the hollowed stones are green
With slippery moss that hath a trickling sound:
Leapeth and springeth,
Singing forever
A wayward song.
While the vast wings of Time and Death drift slowly,
While, faint and far, the tides of life
Sigh in a long scarce audible breath from Rome,
Or faintlier still withdraw down shores of dusk;
For ever singing
It leapeth and falleth
Falleth and leapeth,
Falleth,
And falleth.

IN JULY

      (South of Rome)

Pale-rose the dust lying thick upon the road:
Grey-green the thirsty grasses by the way.
The long flat silvery sheen of the vast champaign
Shimmers beneath the blazing tide of noon.
The blood-red poppies flame
Like furnace-breaths:
Like wan vague dreams the misty lavender
Drifts greyly through the quivering maze; or seems
Thus through the visionary glow to drift.
On the far slope, beyond the ruin'd arch,
A grey-white cloudlet rests,
The cluster'd sheep alow: close, moveless all,
And silent, save when faintly from their midst
A slumberous tinkle comes,
Cometh, and goeth.
Low-stretch'd in the blue shade,
Beneath the ruin
The shepherd sleeps.
Nought stirs.
The wind moves not, nor with the faintest breath
Toucheth the half-fallen blooms of the asphodels.
Here only, where the pale pink ash
|
Of the long road doth slowly flush to rose,
A bronze-wing'd beetle moveth low,
And sends one tiny puff of smoke-like dust
Faint through the golden glimmer of the heat.

NEXT