by: Arthur Symons (1865-1945)

      HY is it I remember yet
      You, of all women one has met,
      In random wayfare, as one meets
      The chance romances of the streets,
      The Juliet of a night? I know
      Your heart holds many a Romeo.
      And I, who call to mind your face
      In so serene a pausing-place,
      Where the bright pure expanse of sea,
      Seems a reproach to you and me,
      I too have sought on many a breast
      The ecstasy of an unrest,
      I too have had my dreams, and met
      (Ah me!) how many a Juliet.
      Why is it, then, that I recall
      You, neither first nor last of all?
      For, surely as I see to-night
      The phantom of the lighthouse light,
      Against the sky, across the bay,
      Fade, and return, and fade away,
      So surely do I see your eyes
      Out of the empty night arise;
      Child, you arise and smile to me
      Out of the night, out of the sea,
      The Nereid of a moment there,
      And is it seaweed in your hair?
      O lost and wrecked, how long ago,
      Out of the drowning past, I know
      You come to call me, come to claim
      My share of your delicious shame.
      Child, I remember, and can tell
      One night we loved each other well,
      And one night's love, at least or most,
      Is not so small a thing to boast.
      You were adorable, and I
      Adore you to infinity,
      That nuptial night too briefly borne
      To the oblivion of morn.
      Ah! no oblivion, for I feel
      Your lips deliriously steal
      Along my neck, and fasten there;
      I feel the perfume of your hair,
      I feel your breast that heaves and dips
      Desiring my desirous lips,
      And that ineffable delight
      When souls turn bodies, and unite
      In the intolerable, the whole
      Rapture of the embodied soul.
      That joy was ours, we passed it by;
      You have forgotten me, and I
      Remember you thus strangely, won
      An instant from oblivion.
      And I, remembering, would declare
      That joy, not shame, is ours to share,
      Joy that we had the frank delight
      To choose the chances of one night,
      Out of vague nights, and days at strife,
      So infinitely full of life.
      What shall it profit me to know
      Your heart holds many a Romeo?
      Why should I grieve, though I forget
      How many another Juliet?
      Let us be glad to have forgot
      That roses fade, and loves are not,
      As dreams, immortal, though they seem
      Almost as real as a dream.
      It is for this I see you rise,
      A wraith, with starlight in your eyes,
      Where calm hours weave, for such a mood
      Solitude out of solitude;
      For this, for this, you come to me
      Out of the night, out of the sea.

"Stella Maris" is reprinted from Poetica Erotica. Ed. T.R. Smith. New York: Crown Publishers, 1921.




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