THE HAUNTED HOUSE
by: George Sylvester Viereck
- LAY beside you ... on your lips
- Hovered, most strange ... the mirage of a smile,
- Such as a minstrel lover might have seen
- Upon the visage of some antique queen--
- Flickering like flame, half choked by wind and dust,
- Weary of all things saving song and lust.
- How many days and years and lovers' lies
- Gave you your knowledge? You are very wise
- And tired, yet insatiate to the last.
- These things I thought, but said not; and there passed
- Before my vision in voluptuous quest,
- The pageant of the lovers who possessed
- Your soul and body even as I possess,
- Who marked your passions in its nakedness
- And all your love-sins when your love was new.
- They saw as I your quivering breast, and drew
- Nearer to the consuming flame that burns
- Deep to the marrow of my bone, and turns
- My heart to love even as theirs who knew
- From head to girdle each sweet curve of you,
- Each little way of loving. No caress,
- But apes the part of former loves. Ah yes,
- Even thus your hand toyed in the locks of him
- Who came before me. Was he fair of limb
- Or very dark? What matter, with such lures
- You snared the hearts of all your paramours!
- To-night I feel the presence of the others,
- Your lovers were they and are now my brothers
- And I have nothing that has not been theirs,
- No single bloom the tree of passion bears
- They have not plucked. Belovèd, can it be?
- Is there no gift that you reserve for me--
- No loving kindness or no subtle sin,
- No secret shrine that none has entered in,
- Whither no mocking memories pursue
- Love's wistful pilgrim? I am weary too,
- With weariness of all your lovers, when
- I follow in the ways of other men,
- I know each spot of your sweet body is
- A cross, the tombstone of some perished kiss.
- A touch ... and an innumerable host
- Of shadows rises ... at each side a ghost.
- Withal its beauty and its faultless grace
- Your body, dearest, is a haunted place.
- When I did yield to passion's swift demand,
- One of your lovers touched me with his hand.
- And in the pangs of amorous delight
- I hear strange voices calling through the night.
MORE POEMS BY GEORGE SYLVESTER VIERECK
"The Haunted House" is
reprinted from Nineveh and Other Poems. George Sylvester
Viereck. New York: Moffat, Yard & Co., 1907.