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Poem by Hilda Doolittle

At Ithaca

Over and back, 
the long waves crawl 
and track the sand with foam; 
night darkens, and the sea 
takes on that desperate tone 
of dark that wives put on 
when all their love is done.

Over and back, 
the tangled thread falls slack, 
over and up and on; 
over and all is sewn; 
now while I bind the end, 
I wish some fiery friend 
would sweep impetuously 
these fingers from the loom.

My weary thoughts 
play traitor to my soul, 
just as the toil is over; 
swift while the woof is whole,
turn now, my spirit, swift, 
and tear the pattern there, 
the flowers so deftly wrought, 
the borders of sea blue, 
the sea-blue coast of home.

The web was over-fair, 
that web of pictures there, 
enchantments that I thought 
he had, that I had lost; 
weaving his happiness 
within the stitching frame, 
weaving his fire and frame, 
I thought my work was done, 
I prayed that only one 
of those that I had spurned 
might stoop and conquer this 
long waiting with a kiss.

But each time that I see 
my work so beautifully 
inwoven and would keep 
the picture and the whole, 
Athene steels my soul. 
Slanting across my brain, 
I see as shafts of rain 
his chariot and his shafts, 
I see the arrows fall, 
I see the lord who moves 
like Hector lord of love, 
I see him matched with fair 
bright rivals, and I see 
those lesser rivals flee.

Hilda Doolittle

Hilda Doolittle's other poems:
  1. Heliodora
  2. Thetis
  3. After Troy
  4. Nossis
  5. Lais

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