John Vance Cheney ( )

The Parting of Ilmar and Haadin

PUT 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! 

John Vance Cheney's other poems:
  1. Coyote
  2. Somewhere
  3. One
  4. Evening Songs
  5. Lincoln

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