In this rare volume of poetry, Aldous Huxley is characteristically, uncompromisingly erudite; yet surprisingly forceful, passionate, and erotic.
42 pages, with a reading time of ~0.75 hours (10,500 words), and first published in 1918. This DRM-Free edition published by epubBooks, 2009.
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I. Under the Trees. There had been phantoms, pale-remembered shapes Of this and this occasion, sisterly In their resemblances, each effigy Crowned with the same bright hair above the nape's White rounded firmness, and each body alert With such swift loveliness, that very rest Seemed a poised movement: ... phantoms that impressed But a faint influence and could bless or hurt No more than dreams. And these ghost things were she; For formless still, without identity, Not one she seemed, not clear, but many and dim. One face among the legions of the street, Indifferent mystery, she was for him Something still uncreated, incomplete. II. Bright windy sunshine and the shadow of cloud Quicken the heavy summer to new birth Of life and motion on the drowsing earth; The huge elms stir, till all the air is loud With their awakening from the muffled sleep Of long hot days. And on the wavering line That marks the alternate ebb of shade and shine, Under the trees, a little group is deep In laughing talk. The shadow as it flows Across them dims the lustre of a rose, Quenches the bright clear gold of hair, the green Of a girl's dress, and life seems faint. The light Swings back, and in the rose a fire is seen, Gold hair's aflame and green grows emerald bright. III. She leans, and there is laughter in the face She turns towards him; and it seems a door Suddenly opened on some desolate place With a burst of light and music. What before Was hidden shines in loveliness revealed. Now first he sees her beautiful, and knows That he must love her; and the doom is sealed Of all his happiness and all the woes That shall be born of pregnant years hereafter. The swift poise of a head, a flutter of laughter-- And love flows in on him, its vastness pent Within his narrow life: the pain it brings, Boundless; for love is infinite discontent With the poor lonely life of transient things. IV. Men see their god, an immanence divine, Smile through the curve of flesh or moulded clay, In bare ploughed lands that go sloping away To meet the sky in one clean exquisite line. Out of the short-seen dawns of ecstasy They draw new beauty, whence new thoughts are born And in their turn conceive, as grains of corn Germ and create new life and endlessly Shall live creating. Out of earthly seeds Springs the aerial flower. One spirit proceeds Through change, the same in body and in soul-- The spirit of life and love that triumphs still In its slow struggle towards some far-off goal Through lust and death and the bitterness of will. V. One spirit it is that stirs the fathomless deep Of human minds, that shakes the elms in storm, That sings in passionate music, or on warm Still evenings bosoms forth the tufted sleep Of thistle-seeds that wait a travelling wind. One spirit shapes the subtle rhythms of thought And the long thundering seas; the soul is wrought Of one stuff with the body--matter and mind Woven together in so close a mesh That flowers may blossom into a song, that flesh May strangely teach the loveliest holiest things To watching spirits. Truth is brought to birth Not in some vacant heaven: its beauty springs From the dear bosom of material earth. VI. IN THE HAY-LOFT. The darkness in the loft is sweet and warm With the stored hay ... darkness intensified By one bright shaft that enters through the wide Tall doors from under fringes of a storm Which makes the doomed sun brighter. On the hay, Perched mountain-high they sit, and silently Watch the motes dance and look at the dark sky And mark how heartbreakingly far away And yet how close and clear the distance seems, While all at hand is cloud--brightness of dreams Unrealisable, yet seen so clear, So only just beyond the dark. They wait, Scarce knowing what they wait for, half in fear; Expectance draws the curtain from their fate. VII. The silence of the storm weighs heavily On their strained spirits: sometimes one will say Some trivial thing as though to ward away Mysterious powers, that imminently lie In wait, with the strong exorcising grace Of everyday's futility. Desire Becomes upon a sudden a crystal fire, Defined and hard:--If he could kiss her face, Could kiss her hair! As if by chance, her hand Brushes on his ... Ah, can she understand? Or is she pedestalled above the touch Of his desire? He wonders: dare he seek From her that little, that infinitely much? And suddenly she kissed him on the cheek.