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The Muse in the Virginia Afternoon

ISSUE:  Summer 1938

From the corrals of Southern hemispheres,
Beyond the Pole, and not beyond the Pole,
Where blue-eyed horses breed their stock of kings,
And past the islands where the island men Mimic a god of sun in heat, and where The ageless women comb their braided hair,
The trembling ocean rends itself to show The shadowy fragments of a shadowy world.
There rest the saints who were not canonized,
In an asylum built for endless thought Upon the fount of innocence run dry.
The lips that gave the negative now help,
Along with Caesar, to withhold the wind From entering a House; but these remain,
Seated on curules, arguing of wrongs,
Of prayers unwritten, images unwrought.
Here are the ladies who were never vanquished,
Who let their history go unsatisfied.
They never left the palace of their pride;
But move in shadow here, in shadow walking The long, sad paths of minds inaction-mothered And quiet brought to earth.
The taut-brain hound Knew his cold mistress underneath the drab Dress of her age, and howled.
The deer went by.

Purity’s candle, burned at both ends, lies,
A lump of wax that will not mold again,
By the chaste ladies, by the homeless priests;
Parallel lines of Purity, that never Knew the concordance of their holiness.
The hand that lit the candle made no mark Upon the writ to show what brought them here,
Or when gaunt, honest Death will break the shadow.
The great stud neighs.
The mare has foaled a male.
The negroes whirl their backs into the blaze.
The women comb out the lagoon’s sweet water.
It flies, and sinks into the sour rock.
The sea draws in again.
The shadow dies.
The boat rides easily.
Beyond the stars,
The grinding spheres, that sing for Zion’s love—
Beyond the floating sun, this little world.


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