new zealand electronic poetry centre


Robin Hyde

Persephone in Winter

Yea, from the first you were so dear to me,
By that hot footsore way in Bethany,
With my poor rabble so ready to unbind
The festering sores branded on flesh and mind,
To shout new wonders. Ah, still eyes, from the first
I was the desert land that knew its thirst.
I stood there stricken, dreaming of quietude
In your cool lofty rooms. (Naught might obtrude
Therein, but ivory light, but patterned leaves;
Music, so far away; the faint-flushed eves)
And you? God knows! Yet your heart seemed to move
From pity to the wind-blown heights of love
Where such gold dawns shake out each bannered tree.
Still eyes, still eyes, you turned to follow me.
"Sell what thou hast. Give unto these, the poor."
That sea of faces! — well you knew what store
I set by trivial gifts, things bought with pelf.
There stood the outcast, crying, "Give yourself —
Your shadowy lute-string thoughts. Then come with me,
Hang crucified on Beauty’s burning tree.
Men will blaspheme, they dare not understand,
Yet you may feel some mute mouth on your hand,
Or a heart crushed into numbness spill the sweet
Of its lost longings on the beggar’s feet —
And that is Calvary’s cry of brotherhood."
Still eyes, still eyes, almost you understood;
But you turned away sorrowing, blind with your disease
Of a noble manhood, a heart near at ease,
And the great possessions that man rendereth
In a little while, unto his Caesar Death.
Shall we not meet again, at some far end?
I am tired, still eyes. I too could love my friend.


Last updated 21 September, 2003