I was but a half-grown boy,
You were a girl-child slight.
Ah, how weary you were!
You had led in the bullock-fight…
We slew the bullock at length
With knives and maces of stone.
And so your feet were torn,
Your lean arms bruised to the bone.
Perhaps ’twas the slain beast’s blood
We drank, or a root we ate,
Or our reveling evening bath
In the fall by the garden gate,
But you turned to a witching thing,
Side-glancing, and frightened me;
You purred like a panther’s cub,
You sighed like a shell from the sea.
We knelt. I caressed your hair
By the light of the leaping fire:
Your fierce eyes blinked with smoke,
Pine-fumes, that enhanced desire.
I helped to unbraid your hair
In wonder and fear profound:
You were humming your hunting tune
As it swept to the grassy ground.
Our comrades, the shaggy bear,
The tiger with velvet feet,
The lion, crept to the light
Whining for bullock meat.
We fed them and stroked their necks…
They took their way to the fen
Where they hunted or hid all night;
No enemies, they, of men.
Evil had entered not
The cobra, since defiled.
He watched, when the beasts had gone
Our kissing and singing wild.
Beautiful friend he was,
Sage, not a tempter grim.
Many a year should pass
Ere Satan should enter him.
He danced while the evening dove
And the nightingale kept in tune.
I sang of the angel sun:
You sang of the angel-moon:
We sang of the angel-chief
Who blew thro’ the trees strange breath,
Who helped in the hunt all day
And granted the bullock’s death.
O Eve with the fire-lit breast
And child-face red and white!
I heaped the great logs high!
That was our bridal night.