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Alfred Noyes (Альфред Нойес)


Apes and Ivory


Apes and ivory, skulls and roses, in junks of old Hong-Kong,
Gliding over a sea of dreams to a haunted shore of song,
Masts of gold and sails of satin, shimmering out of the East,
O, Love has little need of you now to make his heart a feast.

Or is it an elephant, white as milk and bearing a severed head
That tatters his broad soft wrinkled flank in tawdry patches of red,
With a negro giant to walk beside and a temple dome above,
Where ruby and emerald shatter the sun,--is it these that should
please my love?

Or is it a palace of pomegranates, where ivory-limbed young slaves
Lure a luxury out of the noon in the swooning fountain's waves;
Or couch like cats and sun themselves on the warm white marble brink?
O, Love has little to ask of these, this day in May, I think.

Is it Lebanon cedars or purple fruits of the honeyed southron air,
Spikenard, saffron, roses of Sharon, cinnamon, calamus, myrrh,
A bed of spices, a fountain of waters, or the wild white wings of
a dove,
Now, when the winter is over and gone, is it these that should
please my love?

The leaves outburst on the hazel-bough and the hawthorn's heaped
wi' flower,
And God has bidden the crisp clouds build my love a lordlier tower,
Taller than Lebanon, whiter than snow, in the fresh blue skies above;
And the wild rose wakes in the winding lanes of the radiant land
I love.

Apes and ivory, skulls and roses, in junks of old Hong-Kong,
Gliding over a sea of dreams to a haunted shore of song,
Masts of gold and sails of satin, shimmering out of the East,
O, Love has little need of you now to make his heart a feast.



Alfred Noyes's other poems:
  1. The Trumpet Call
  2. The Old Grey Squirrel
  3. A Song of Two Burdens
  4. Haunted in Old Japan
  5. The Fisher-Girl


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