THE PARTING OF ILMAR AND HAADIN
by: John Vance Cheney (1848-1922)
- UT out thy
torch, O watcher by the dead,
- Unto the darkness give its own;
- Silence and darkness -- they alone
- May minister about this breathless bed;
- Put out thy mocking torch, good watcher gray,
- Thine old head cover; come away.
- And so I leave thee, Ilmar! That queen brow
- Where diamond light were pale as mist,
- I yield it up to Death, unkissed.
- He took thee from me; thourt his only, now:
- No, no -- I cannot lay on that still hand
- Mine own, and thou not understand.
- Mine was no little wingèd fantasy --
- Gnat-passion of a summer day,
- I loved not in the common way;
- Therefore must I accept this misery,
- Must hug it close, feed me upon its pain,
- No more than thou to smile again.
- The spider can restore each riven thread,
- The bee refill its empty comb;
- Alas! the hearts imperial home,
- Once plundered, goes for aye untenanted.
- Henceforth I wander, homeless, helpless, lone,
- Only my bitterness mine own.
- The haggard night, with wet, disheveled hair,
- On her black path at large, shall be
- My mate; the gesturing specter-tree
- Shall reach his arms to me through glittring air;
- Friends will I make where, with despairing roar,
- The baffled sea assaults the shore.
- Wan as the bleachen kerchief smoothed around
- Thy whiter neck, the realm of Death
- Shall be my realm; and my stopt breath
- Shall be unheard as thine down in the ground.--
- Mine own are deaf as that sweet sleepers ears;
- Watcher, why speak when neither hears? --
- Thou art so meek! Ah, why am I not so
- Because thou art? -- It cannot be:
- My tameless blood increasingly
- Does heat me fierce as tiger crouchèd low,
- Hard-spotted pard, that, glancing back the glare
- Of sun-fire, dapples all the air.
- Had I, O wind, your liberty, the sea
- Should lift so wildly he must spray
- The shining azure Deaths own gray,
- Put out the spluttring stars, to say for me
- How black is all this world! -- No, no;
I must be calm. Lo, she is so!
- Quench thy poor torch, good watcher. Death sleeps sound:
- A candle cannot cheat her night.
- Do men strengthen with smiles the noon-suns light?
- And shall we weep but to make wet the ground?
- Old man, the gaping grave -- didst ever note
- The swallowed coffin choke his throat?
- I tell thee she is Deaths -- Deaths only, now:
- Let us be gone. Haadins tear
- Would be a rain-drop on that bier,
- His breath but wind against that brow.
- Put out thy torch -- ay, thou hast done it. All
- Is dark -- how dark! -- Ilmar! -- I -- fall!
POEMS BY JOHN VANCE CHENEY
"The Parting of Ilmar and Haadin"
is reprinted from The Century, vol. 30, issue 1 (May 1885).