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Poem by Madison Julius Cawein


The Three Urgandas


Cast on sleep there came to me
Three Urgandas; and the sea
In lost lands of Briogne
    Sounded moaning, moaning:
Cloudy clad in awful white;
And each face a lucid light
Rayed and blossomed out of night, -
    And a wind was groaning.

In my sleep I saw them rest,
Each a long hand at her breast,
A soft flame that lulls the West; -
    And the sea was moaning, moaning; -
Hair like hoarded ingots rolled
Down white shoulders glossy gold,
Streaks of molten moonlight cold, -
    And a wind was groaning.

Rosy 'round each high brow bent
Four-fold starry gold that sent
Barbs of fire redolent; -
    And the sea was moaning, moaning; -
'Neath their burning crowns their eyes
Burned like southern stars the skies
Rock in shattered storm that flies, -
    And a wind was groaning.

Wisdom's eyes of lurid dark;
And each red mouth like a spark
Flashed and laughed off care and cark, -
    And the sea was moaning, moaning; -
Mouths for song and lips to kiss;
Lips for hate and mouths to hiss;
Lips that fashioned hell or bliss, -
    And the wind was groaning.

Tall as stately virgins dead,
Tapers lit at feet and head,
'Round whom Latin prayers are said, -
    And the sea was moaning, moaning; -
Or as vampire women, who,
Buried beauties, rise and woo
Youths whose blood they suck like dew, -
    And a wind was groaning.

Then the west one said to me:
"Thou hast slept thus holily
While seven sands ran secretly." -
    And the sea was moaning, moaning; -
"Earth hath served thee like a slave,
Serving us who found thee brave,
Fearless of or life or grave." -
    And a wind was groaning.

"Know!" - she smote my brow; a pain,
Riddling arrows, rent my brain,
Ceased and earth fell, some vast strain; -
    And the sea was moaning, moaning; -
Then I understood all thought;
What was life the spirit fraught;
Love and hate; how worlds were wrought: -
    And a wind was groaning.

Then the east one said to me:
"Thou hast wandered wearily
By what mist-enveloped sea!" -
    And the sea was moaning, moaning; -
"Know the things thou hast not seen;
Life and law, and love and teen;
Things that be and have not been." -
    And the wind was groaning.

"See!" her voice sung like a lyre
Throbs of thunderous desire;
Then the iron sight like fire -
    And the sea was moaning, moaning; -
Burst; the inner eyelids, which
Husked clairvoyance, with a twitch
Rose - and I with light was rich; -
    And a wind was groaning.

Then I saw the eyes of Sleep;
Nerves of Life and veins that leap;
Laws of entity; the deep: -
    And the sea was moaning, moaning; -
Orbs and eons; springs of Power;
Circumstance - blown like a flower; -
Time - the second of an hour: -
    And the wind was groaning.

To the central third one's full
Balanced being beautiful
Heart, to hearken, made a lull, -
    And the sea was moaning, moaning; -
As she sternly stooped to me:
"Thou dost know and thou canst see;
What thou art arise and be!" -
    And the wind was groaning.

To my mouth hot lips she pressed;
And my famished soul, thrice blessed,
Quaffed her radiance and caressed: -
    And vague seas were moaning, moaning: -
Mounted; star-vibrating fled;
Soared to love, with her who said:
"Thou dost live and thou art dead." -
    Far off winds were groaning.



Madison Julius Cawein


Madison Julius Cawein's other poems:
  1. Face to Face
  2. Take Heart
  3. Robert Browning
  4. The Waning Year
  5. The Lost Garden


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