new zealand electronic poetry centre


Robin Hyde

The Conquerors And Other Poems

La Gioconda
Say nothing . . . say no more . . . what, have you spoken?
Or is the long, fine chain of silence unbroken?
If you were wanton, there are others since
Have bared white breast for beggar or for prince
And given an hour of sleep, an hour of snow.
Yet the implacable dawn swept on, not slow
Because four mean walls held the scents of Spring
And strange gold lit the small clouds’ westering.

If you were mother, there are more have known
The end of Youth, and so been turned to stone
To see Persephone go down to Hell,
And find the bed of Dis, and like it well;
Their futile prayers, their hands that could not save,
Are piteous as dumb lilies on a grave.

They say your child lay stark within the room
Where swart Da Vinci fought the gathering gloom
To catch that smile of yours . . . that secret bland
Mirth the wise gods had stifled in Egypt sand.
Till at the last, the blue dusk drew a hood
About your hair, and smiling still you stood,
Who would not weep for that blind fool possessed,
Neither for God, whose knife was in your breast.

But if your smile mean mirth, or vanquished pain,
Avilion shores, or that men die in vain,
Or that blind vacancy we dare not know
(Who cling together when the stars burn low),
Be silent yet. Let not your cold lips part
To tell the inhuman wisdom of your heart.


Last updated 11 September, 2003