In that white, unending wall
Little dwarfish echoes dwell.
Who would think that they, so small,
Could so mock a man in Hell!
If I say the softest thing,
If one ghost escapes my brain,
All night long they sit again,
Whispering . . . whispering. . . .
Say I, “She is walking now
Where the branches, bending low,
Flake with applebloom her brow.
Why should she, the swift, walk slow?
She forgot so long ago
That carved heart upon the bough.
Go your ways, youth-sandalled feet,
Half, perhaps, remembering
Lad’s love, in the twilight sweet! —
But a man’s a stronger thing.”
All night long the echoes leant,
Whispering words that were not meant. . . .
Or I say, “When she shall see
Dim boughs of a blossomed tree,
She’ll remember, being young.”
And a little venomed tongue
Laughs and laughs, the livelong night,
Prom behind the shaded light.
“Or,” I say, “if she were here —
Brook-brown eyes and tawny hair,
Like a bush flower, straight and tall,
Whose dew shines, but does not fall —
One small fawn-gloved hand would reach
Those still depths not meant for speech.
But she follows, follows still
Through grey ti-trees, over the hill,
That strong eagle, her wind-lover.
Oh small feet, must you discover
Those lost sunsets whispered long
In your golden eagle’s song,
Hills purple in twilight, trees
Whispering through eternities,
And the wet face of the rain?”
“He will never walk again.”
“Oh, small feet, are you so bold?
And your lover’s lips are cold —
Old as God he is.” And then
All the little dwarfish men
Scream with laughter. Whispering
All the little voices ring,
Till the moonstone blue of morn
Cradled in black pines is born,
And the day is here again. . . .
Thank God, for the lips of pain.