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H. D. - Let Zeus

I

I say, I am quite done,
quite done with this;
you smile your calm
inveterate chill smile

and light steps back;
intolerate loveliness
smiles at the ranks
of obdurate bitterness;

you smile with keen
chiselled and frigid lips;
it seems no evil
ever could have been;

so, on the Parthenon,
like splendour keeps
peril at bay,
facing inviolate dawn.

II

Men cannot mar you,
women cannot break
your innate strength,
your stark autocracy;

still I will make no plea
for this slight verse;
it outlines simply
Love's authority:

but pardon this,
that in these luminous days,
I re-invoke the dark
to frame your praise;

as one to make a bright room
seem more bright,
stares out deliberate
into Cerberus-night.

III

Sometimes I chide the manner of your dress;
I want all men to see the grace of you;
I mock your pace, your body's insolence,
thinking that all should praise, while obstinate
you still insist your beauty's gold is clay:

I chide you that you stand not forth entire,
set on bright plinth, intolerably desired;
yet I in turn will cheat, will thwart your whim,
I'll break my thought, weld it to fit your measure
as one who sets a statue on a height
to show where Hyacinth or Pan have been.

IV

When blight lay and the Persian like a scar,
and death was heavy on Athens, plague and war,
you gave me this bright garment and this ring;

I who still kept of wisdom's meagre store
a few rare songs and some philosophising,
offered you these for I had nothing more;

that which both Athens and the Persian mocked
you took, as a cold famished bird takes grain,
blown inland through darkness and withering rain.

V

Would you prefer myrrh-flower or cyclamen?
I have them, I could spread them out again;
but now for this stark moment while Love breaths
his tentative breath, as dying, yet still lives,
wait as that time you waited tense with me:

others shall love when Athens lives again,
you waited in the agonies of war;
others will praise when all the host proclaims
Athens the perfect; you, when Athens lost,
stood by her; when the dark perfidious host
turned, it was you who pled for her with death.

VI

Stars wheel in purple, yours is not so rare
as Hesperus, nor yet so great a star
as bright Aldebaran or Sirius,
nor yet the stained and brilliant one of War;

stars turn in purple, glorious to the sight;
yours is not gracious as the Pleiads' are
nor as Orion's sapphires, luminous;
yet disenchanted, cold, imperious face,
when all the others, blighted, reel and fall,
your star, steel-set, keeps lone and frigid tryst
to freighted ships, baffled in wind and blast.

VII

None watched with me
who watched his fluttering breath,
none brought white roses,
none the roses red;

many had loved,
had sought him luminous,
when he was blithe
and purple draped his bed;

yet when Love fell
struck down with plague and war,
you lay white myrrh-buds
on the darkened lintel;

you fastened blossom
to the smitten sill;
let Zeus record this,
daring Death to mar.

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Added: Jan 31 2004 | Viewed: 15705 times | Comments and analysis of Let Zeus by H. D. Comments (33)

Let Zeus - Comments and Information

Poet: H. D.
Poem: Let Zeus
Poem of the Day: Nov 9 2000

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Comment 31 of 33, added on May 29th, 2015 at 9:14 AM.
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