Sonnets written during long illness
Locked in the prison of an empty mind
And groping through the twilight of ennui,
The inner eye filmed that it cannot see
Beyond that smothering dusk, the body blind
To outer loveliness; this is to find
The echo at the heart of mystery
And save that echo, nothing; this is to be
A wraith sowing barren seed against the wind.
Spirit slow waning in this carnal bound,
The hate-fierce Florentine’s implacable scroll
Of doom glows milder that yours is not found
Among its torments, for here is glimpsed the whole
Of man’s frustration; in this deep is drowned
The fire celestial which a Titan stole.
My house is haunted by, ghosts with joyous eyes,
Warm voices, ardent gestures. Full of delight
And loving kindness they flit all day and night
From room to room. They are very well unwise
In this world’s wisdom; they seek not any prize
Or recompense for giving, nor any right
Save that of love to share in every plight
Which snares a friend, and to scorn compromise.
Young, passionate ghosts of the living, of those grown old,
Sedate and chill and cautious with the years,
Sorrow, not joy, you bring me, fairy gold
Of memory that turns to dust, and tears
For what is far less real than fables told
By a child in darkness to soothe his lonely fears.
What marvel quickens? What airy, feet have shined
Upon my threshold where still the light gleams through?
How drifts an April fragrance mild with dew
From snow-flowers driving on the winter wind?
Some starry magic is at work to bind
The darker spells of earth and to renew
The springs of beauty.
Ah, restore me too,
Divine enchanter, heal my troubled mind.
Fever has mocked me.
There is nothing here
Except this darkness which is myself, and pain
Of the weary flesh that holds it.
Year by year,
As in the years now vanished,
I shall wane.
That trick of life called death why should I fear?
This only is death, to be alive in vain.