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Poem by Hilda Doolittle
Let her who walks in Paphos take the glass, let Paphos take the mirror and the work of frosted fruit, gold apples set with silver apple-leaf, white leaf of silver wrought with vein of gilt. Let Paphos lift the mirror, let her look into the polished centre of the disk. Let Paphos take the mirror; did she press flowerlet of flame-flower to the lustrous white of the white forehead? did the dark veins beat a deeper purple than the wine-deep tint of the dark flower? Did she deck black hair one evening, with the winter-white flower of the winter-berry, did she look (reft of her lover) at a face gone white under the chaplet of white virgin-breath? Lais, exultant, tyrannizing Greece, Lais who kept her lovers in the porch, lover on lover waiting, (but to creep where the robe brushed the threshold where still sleeps Lais,) so she creeps, Lais, to lay her mirror at the feet of her who reigns in Paphos. Lais has left her mirror for she sees no longer in its depth the LaisТ self that laughed exultant tyrannizing Greece. Lais has left her mirror, for she weeps no longer, finding in its depth, a face, but other than dark flame and white feature of perfect marble. Lais has left her mirror, (so one wrote) to her who reigns in Paphos; Lais who laughed a tyrant over Greece, Lais who turned the lovers from the porch, that swarm for whom now Lais has no use; Lais is now no lover of the glass, seeing no more the face as once it was, wishing to see that face and finding this.
Hilda Doolittle's other poems:
English Poetry. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org