H O M E

Poems
by Alan Seeger

(1917)



    Juvenilia

  1. An Ode to Natural Beauty
  2. The Deserted Garden
  3. The Torture of Cuauhtemoc
  4. The Nympholept
  5. The Wanderer
  6. The Need to Love
  7. El Extraviado
  8. La Nue
  9. All That's Not Love . . .
  10. Paris
  11. The Sultan's Palace
  12. Fragments

    Thirty Sonnets:

  13. Sonnet I
  14. Sonnet II
  15. Sonnet III
  16. Sonnet IV
  17. Sonnet V
  18. Sonnet VI
  19. Sonnet VII
  20. Sonnet VIII
  21. Sonnet IX
  22. Sonnet X
  23. Sonnet XI
  24. Sonnet XII
  25. Sonnet XIII
  26. Sonnet XIV
  27. Sonnet XV
  28. Sonnet XVI
  29. Kyrenaikos
  30. Antinous
  31. Vivien
  32. I Loved . . .
  33. Virginibus Puerisque . . .
  34. With a Copy of Shakespeare's Sonnets on Leaving College
  35. Written in a Volume of the Comtesse de Noailles
  36. Coucy
  37. Tezcotzinco
  38. The Old Lowe House, Staten Island
  39. Oneata
  40. n the Cliffs, Newport
  41. O
  42. To England at the Outbreak of the Balkan War
  43. At the Tomb of Napoleon Before the Elections in America -- November, 1912

  44. The Rendezvous
  45. Do You Remember Once . . .
  46. The Bayadere
  47. Eudaemon
  48. Broceliande
  49. Lyonesse
  50. Tithonus
  51. An Ode to Antares

    Translations

  52. Dante. Inferno, Canto XXVI
  53. Ariosto. Orlando Furioso, Canto X, 91-99
  54. On a Theme in the Greek Anthology
  55. After an Epigram of Clement Marot

    Last Poems

  56. The Aisne (1914-15)
  57. Champagne (1914-15)
  58. The Hosts
  59. Maktoob
  60. I Have a Rendezvous with Death . . .

    Sonnets:

  61. Sonnet I
  62. Sonnet II
  63. Sonnet III
  64. Sonnet IV
  65. Sonnet V
  66. Sonnet VI
  67. Sonnet VII
  68. Sonnet VIII
  69. Sonnet IX
  70. Sonnet X
  71. Sonnet XI
  72. Sonnet XII

  73. Bellinglise
  74. Liebestod
  75. Resurgam
  76. A Message to America
  77. Introduction and Conclusion of a Long Poem
  78. Ode in Memory of the American Volunteers Fallen for France

Poets' Corner Scripting
© 2009 Bob Blair, S.L. Spanoudis and
theotherpages.org.
All rights reserved worldwide.


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A young Alan Seeger
Poems




Alan Seeger

(1917)

Edited for the Web by Bob Blair

. La Nue

    OFT when sweet music undulated round,
    Like the full moon out of a perfumed sea
    Thine image from the waves of blissful sound
    Rose and thy sudden light illumined me.

    And in the country, leaf and flower and air
    Would alter and the eternal shape emerge;
    Because they spoke of thee the fields seemed fair,
    And Joy to wait at the horizon's verge.

    The little cloud-gaps in the east that filled
    Gray afternoons with bits of tenderest blue
    Were windows in a palace pearly-silled
    That thy voluptuous traits came glimmering through.

    And in the city, dominant desire
    For which men toil within its prison-bars,
    I watched thy white feet moving in the mire
    And thy white forehead hid among the stars.

    Mystical, feminine, provoking, nude,
    Radiant there with rosy arms outspread,
    Sum of fulfillment, sovereign attitude,
    Sensual with laughing lips and thrown-back head,

    Draped in the rainbow on the summer hills,
    Hidden in sea-mist down the hot coast-line,
    Couched on the clouds that fiery sunset fills,
    Blessed, remote, impersonal, divine;

    The gold all color and grace are folded o'er,
    The warmth all beauty and tenderness embower, -- -
    Thou quiverest at Nature's perfumed core,
    The pistil of a myriad-petalled flower.

    Round thee revolves, illimitably wide,
    The world's desire, as stars around their pole.
    Round thee all earthly loveliness beside
    Is but the radiate, infinite aureole.

    Thou art the poem on the cosmic page -- -
    In rubric written on its golden ground -- -
    That Nature paints her flowers and foliage
    And rich-illumined commentary round.

    Thou art the rose that the world's smiles and tears
    Hover about like butterflies and bees.
    Thou art the theme the music of the spheres
    Echoes in endless, variant harmonies.

    Thou art the idol in the altar-niche
    Faced by Love's congregated worshippers,
    Thou art the holy sacrament round which
    The vast cathedral is the universe.

    Thou art the secret in the crystal where,
    For the last light upon the mystery Man,
    In his lone tower and ultimate despair,
    Searched the gray-bearded Zoroastrian.

    And soft and warm as in the magic sphere,
    Deep-orbed as in its erubescent fire,
    So in my heart thine image would appear,
    Curled round with the red flames of my desire.

    Alan Seeger

. All That's Not Love . . .

    ALL that's not love is the dearth of my days,
    The leaves of the volume with rubric unwrit,
    The temple in times without prayer, without praise,
    The altar unset and the candle unlit.

    Let me survive not the lovable sway
    Of early desire, nor see when it goes
    The courts of Life's abbey in ivied decay,
    Whence sometime sweet anthems and incense arose.

    The delicate hues of its sevenfold rings
    The rainbow outlives not; their yellow and blue
    The butterfly sees not dissolve from his wings,
    But even with their beauty life fades from them too.

    No more would I linger past Love's ardent bounds
    Nor live for aught else but the joy that it craves,
    That, burden and essence of all that surrounds,
    Is the song in the wind and the smile on the waves.

    Alan Seeger

. Paris

    I

    First, London, for its myriads; for its height,
    Manhattan heaped in towering stalagmite;
    But Paris for the smoothness of the paths
    That lead the heart unto the heart's delight. . . .

    Fair loiterer on the threshold of those days
    When there's no lovelier prize the world displays
    Than, having beauty and your twenty years,
    You have the means to conquer and the ways,

    And coming where the crossroads separate
    And down each vista glories and wonders wait,
    Crowning each path with pinnacles so fair
    You know not which to choose, and hesitate -- -

    Oh, go to Paris. . . . In the midday gloom
    Of some old quarter take a little room
    That looks off over Paris and its towers
    From Saint Gervais round to the Emperor's Tomb, -- -

    So high that you can hear a mating dove
    Croon down the chimney from the roof above,
    See Notre Dame and know how sweet it is
    To wake between Our Lady and our love.

    And have a little balcony to bring
    Fair plants to fill with verdure and blossoming,
    That sparrows seek, to feed from pretty hands,
    And swallows circle over in the Spring.

    There of an evening you shall sit at ease
    In the sweet month of flowering chestnut-trees,
    There with your little darling in your arms,
    Your pretty dark-eyed Manon or Louise.

    And looking out over the domes and towers
    That chime the fleeting quarters and the hours,
    While the bright clouds banked eastward back of them
    Blush in the sunset, pink as hawthorn flowers,

    You cannot fail to think, as I have done,
    Some of life's ends attained, so you be one
    Who measures life's attainment by the hours
    That Joy has rescued from oblivion.

    II

    Come out into the evening streets. The green light lessens in the west.
    The city laughs and liveliest her fervid pulse of pleasure beats.

    The belfry on Saint Severin strikes eight across the smoking eaves:
    Come out under the lights and leaves to the Reine Blanche on Saint Germain. . . .

    Now crowded diners fill the floor of brasserie and restaurant.
    Shrill voices cry "L'Intransigeant," and corners echo "Paris-Sport."

    Where rows of tables from the street are screened with shoots of box and bay,
    The ragged minstrels sing and play and gather sous from those that eat.

    And old men stand with menu-cards, inviting passers-by to dine
    On the bright terraces that line the Latin Quarter boulevards. . . .

    But, having drunk and eaten well, 'tis pleasant then to stroll along
    And mingle with the merry throng that promenades on Saint Michel.

    Here saunter types of every sort. The shoddy jostle with the chic:
    Turk and Roumanian and Greek; student and officer and sport;

    Slavs with their peasant, Christ-like heads, and courtezans like powdered moths,
    And peddlers from Algiers, with cloths bright-hued and stitched with golden threads;

    And painters with big, serious eyes go rapt in dreams, fantastic shapes
    In corduroys and Spanish capes and locks uncut and flowing ties;

    And lovers wander two by two, oblivious among the press,
    And making one of them no less, all lovers shall be dear to you:

    All laughing lips you move among, all happy hearts that, knowing what
    Makes life worth while, have wasted not the sweet reprieve of being young.

    "Comment ca va!" "Mon vieux!" "Mon cher!" Friends greet and banter as they pass.
    'Tis sweet to see among the mass comrades and lovers everywhere,

    A law that's sane, a Love that's free, and men of every birth and blood
    Allied in one great brotherhood of Art and Joy and Poverty. . . .

    The open cafe-windows frame loungers at their liqueurs and beer,
    And walking past them one can hear fragments of Tosca and Boheme.

    And in the brilliant-lighted door of cinemas the barker calls,
    And lurid posters paint the walls with scenes of Love and crime and war.

    But follow past the flaming lights, borne onward with the stream of feet,
    Where Bullier's further up the street is marvellous on Thursday nights.

    Here all Bohemia flocks apace; you could not often find elsewhere
    So many happy heads and fair assembled in one time and place.

    Under the glare and noise and heat the galaxy of dancing whirls,
    Smokers, with covered heads, and girls dressed in the costume of the street.

    From tables packed around the wall the crowds that drink and frolic there
    Spin serpentines into the air far out over the reeking hall,

    That, settling where the coils unroll, tangle with pink and green and blue
    The crowds that rag to "Hitchy-koo" and boston to the "Barcarole". . . .

    Here Mimi ventures, at fifteen, to make her debut in romance,
    And join her sisters in the dance and see the life that they have seen.

    Her hair, a tight hat just allows to brush beneath the narrow brim,
    Docked, in the model's present whim, frise and banged above the brows.

    Uncorseted, her clinging dress with every step and turn betrays,
    In pretty and provoking ways her adolescent loveliness,

    As guiding Gaby or Lucile she dances, emulating them
    In each disturbing stratagem and each lascivious appeal.

    Each turn a challenge, every pose an invitation to compete,
    Along the maze of whirling feet the grave-eyed little wanton goes,

    And, flaunting all the hue that lies in childish cheeks and nubile waist,
    She passes, charmingly unchaste, illumining ignoble eyes. . . .

    But now the blood from every heart leaps madder through abounding veins
    As first the fascinating strains of "El Irresistible" start.

    Caught in the spell of pulsing sound, impatient elbows lift and yield
    The scented softnesses they shield to arms that catch and close them round,

    Surrender, swift to be possessed, the silken supple forms beneath
    To all the bliss the measures breathe and all the madness they suggest.

    Crowds congregate and make a ring. Four deep they stand and strain to see
    The tango in its ecstasy of glowing lives that clasp and cling.

    Lithe limbs relaxed, exalted eyes fastened on vacancy, they seem
    To float upon the perfumed stream of some voluptuous Paradise,

    Or, rapt in some Arabian Night, to rock there, cradled and subdued,
    In a luxurious lassitude of rhythm and sensual delight.

    And only when the measures cease and terminate the flowing dance
    They waken from their magic trance and join the cries that clamor "Bis!" . . .

    Midnight adjourns the festival. The couples climb the crowded stair,
    And out into the warm night air go singing fragments of the ball.

    Close-folded in desire they pass, or stop to drink and talk awhile
    In the cafes along the mile from Bullier's back to Montparnasse:

    The "Closerie" or "La Rotonde", where smoking, under lamplit trees,
    Sit Art's enamored devotees, chatting across their brune and blonde. . . .

    Make one of them and come to know sweet Paris -- - not as many do,
    Seeing but the folly of the few, the froth, the tinsel, and the show -- -

    But taking some white proffered hand that from Earth's barren every day
    Can lead you by the shortest way into Love's florid fairyland.

    And that divine enchanted life that lurks under Life's common guise -- -
    That city of romance that lies within the City's toil and strife -- -

    Shall, knocking, open to your hands, for Love is all its golden key,
    And one's name murmured tenderly the only magic it demands.

    And when all else is gray and void in the vast gulf of memory,
    Green islands of delight shall be all blessed moments so enjoyed:

    When vaulted with the city skies, on its cathedral floors you stood,
    And, priest of a bright brotherhood, performed the mystic sacrifice,

    At Love's high altar fit to stand, with fire and incense aureoled,
    The celebrant in cloth of gold with Spring and Youth on either hand.

    III

    Choral Song


                 Have ye gazed on its grandeur
                      Or stood where it stands
                 With opal and amber
                      Adorning the lands,
                 And orcharded domes
                      Of the hue of all flowers?
                 Sweet melody roams
                      Through its blossoming bowers,
      Sweet bells usher in from its belfries the train of the honey-sweet hour.

                 A city resplendent,
                      Fulfilled of good things,
                 On its ramparts are pendent
                      The bucklers of kings.
                 Broad banners unfurled
                      Are afloat in its air.
                 The lords of the world
                      Look for harborage there.
      None finds save he comes as a bridegroom, having roses and vine in his hair.

                 'Tis the city of Lovers,
                      There many paths meet.
                 Blessed he above others,
                      With faltering feet,
                 Who past its proud spires
                      Intends not nor hears
                 The noise of its lyres
                      Grow faint in his ears!
      Men reach it through portals of triumph, but leave through a postern of tears.

                 It was thither, ambitious,
                      We came for Youth's right,
                 When our lips yearned for kisses
                      As moths for the light,
                 When our souls cried for Love
                      As for life-giving rain
                 Wan leaves of the grove,
                      Withered grass of the plain,
      And our flesh ached for Love-flesh beside it with bitter, intolerable pain.

                 Under arbor and trellis,
                      Full of flutes, full of flowers,
                 What mad fortunes befell us,
                      What glad orgies were ours!
                 In the days of our youth,
                      In our festal attire,
                 When the sweet flesh was smooth,
                      When the swift blood was fire,
      And all Earth paid in orange and purple to pavilion the bed of Desire!

      Alan Seeger

    . The Sultan's Palace

      MY SPIRIT only lived to look on Beauty's face,
      As only when they clasp the arms seem served aright;
      As in their flesh inheres the impulse to embrace,
      To gaze on Loveliness was my soul's appetite.

      I have roamed far in search; white road and plunging bow
      Were keys in the blue doors where my desire was set;
      Obedient to their lure, my lips and laughing brow
      The hill-showers and the spray of many seas have wet.

      Hot are enamored hands, the fragrant zone unbound,
      To leave no dear delight unfelt, unfondled o'er,
      The will possessed my heart to girdle Earth around
      With their insatiate need to wonder and adore.

      The flowers in the fields, the surf upon the sands,
      The sunset and the clouds it turned to blood and wine,
      Were shreds of the thin veil behind whose beaded strands
      A radiant visage rose, serene, august, divine.

      A noise of summer wind astir in starlit trees,
      A song where sensual love's delirium rose and fell,
      Were rites that moved my soul more than the devotee's
      When from the blazing choir rings out the altar bell.

      I woke amid the pomp of a proud palace; writ
      In tinted arabesque on walls that gems o'erlay,
      The names of caliphs were who once held court in it,
      Their baths and bowers were mine to dwell in for a day.

      Their robes and rings were mine to draw from shimmering trays -- -
      Brocades and broidered silks, topaz and tourmaline -- -
      Their turban-cloths to wind in proud capricious ways,
      And fasten plumes and pearls and pendent sapphires in.

      I rose; far music drew my steps in fond pursuit
      Down tessellated floors and towering peristyles:
      Through groves of colonnades fair lamps were blushing fruit,
      On seas of green mosaic soft rugs were flowery isles.

      And there were verdurous courts that scalloped arches wreathed,
      Where fountains plashed in bowls of lapis lazuli.
      Through enigmatic doors voluptuous accents breathed,
      And having Youth I had their Open Sesame.

      I paused where shadowy walls were hung with cloths of gold,
      And tinted twilight streamed through storied panes above.
      In lamplit alcoves deep as flowers when they unfold
      Soft cushions called to rest and fragrant fumes to love.

      I hungered; at my hand delicious dainties teemed -- -
      Fair pyramids of fruit; pastry in sugared piles.
      I thirsted; in cool cups inviting vintage beamed -- -
      Sweet syrups from the South; brown muscat from the isles.

      I yearned for passionate Love; faint gauzes fell away.
      Pillowed in rosy light I found my heart's desire.
      Over the silks and down her florid beauty lay,
      As over orient clouds the sunset's coral fire.

      Joys that had smiled afar, a visionary form,
      Behind the ranges hid, remote and rainbow-dyed,
      Drew near unto my heart, a wonder soft and warm,
      To touch, to stroke, to clasp, to sleep and wake beside.

      Joy, that where summer seas and hot horizons shone
      Had been the outspread arms I gave my youth to seek,
      Drew near; awhile its pulse strove sweetly with my own,
      Awhile I felt its breath astir upon my cheek.

      I was so happy there; so fleeting was my stay, -- -
      What wonder if, assailed with vistas so divine,
      I only lived to search and sample them the day
      When between dawn and dusk the sultan's courts were mine!

      Speak not of other worlds of happiness to be,
      As though in any fond imaginary sphere
      Lay more to tempt man's soul to immortality
      Than ripens for his bliss abundant now and here!

      Flowerlike I hope to die as flowerlike was my birth.
      Rooted in Nature's just benignant law like them,
      I want no better joys than those that from green Earth
      My spirit's blossom drew through the sweet body's stem.

      I see no dread in death, no horror to abhor.
      I never thought it else than but to cease to dwell
      Spectator, and resolve most naturally once more
      Into the dearly loved eternal spectacle.

      Unto the fields and flowers this flesh I found so fair
      I yield; do you, dear friend, over your rose-crowned wine,
      Murmur my name some day as though my lips were there,
      And frame your mouth as though its blushing kiss were mine.

      Yea, where the banquet-hall is brilliant with young men,
      You whose bright youth it might have thrilled my breast to know,
      Drink . . . and perhaps my lips, insatiate even then
      Of lips to hang upon, may find their loved ones so.

      Unto the flush of dawn and evening I commend
      This immaterial self and flamelike part of me, -- -
      Unto the azure haze that hangs at the world's end,
      The sunshine on the hills, the starlight on the sea, -- -

      Unto angelic Earth, whereof the lives of those
      Who love and dream great dreams and deeply feel may be
      The elemental cells and nervules that compose
      Its divine consciousness and joy and harmony.

      Alan Seeger

    . Fragments

      I

      In that fair capital where Pleasure, crowned
      Amidst her myriad courtiers, riots and rules,
      I too have been a suitor. Radiant eyes
      Were my life's warmth and sunshine, outspread arms
      My gilded deep horizons. I rejoiced
      In yielding to all amorous influence
      And multiple impulsion of the flesh,
      To feel within my being surge and sway
      The force that all the stars acknowledge too.
      Amid the nebulous humanity
      Where I an atom crawled and cleaved and sundered,
      I saw a million motions, but one law;
      And from the city's splendor to my eyes
      The vapors passed and there was nought but Love,
      A ferment turbulent, intensely fair,
      Where Beauty beckoned and where Strength pursued.

      II

      There was a time when I thought much of Fame,
      And laid the golden edifice to be
      That in the clear light of eternity
      Should fitly house the glory of my name.

      But swifter than my fingers pushed their plan,
      Over the fair foundation scarce begun,
      While I with lovers dallied in the sun,
      The ivy clambered and the rose-vine ran.

      And now, too late to see my vision, rise,
      In place of golden pinnacles and towers,
      Only some sunny mounds of leaves and flowers,
      Only beloved of birds and butterflies.

      My friends were duped, my favorers deceived;
      But sometimes, musing sorrowfully there,
      That flowered wreck has seemed to me so fair
      I scarce regret the temple unachieved.

      III

      For there were nights . . . my love to him whose brow
      Has glistened with the spoils of nights like those,
      Home turning as a conqueror turns home,
      What time green dawn down every street uprears
      Arches of triumph! He has drained as well
      Joy's perfumed bowl and cried as I have cried:
      Be Fame their mistress whom Love passes by.
      This only matters: from some flowery bed,
      Laden with sweetness like a homing bee,
      If one have known what bliss it is to come,
      Bearing on hands and breast and laughing lips
      The fragrance of his youth's dear rose. To him
      The hills have bared their treasure, the far clouds
      Unveiled the vision that o'er summer seas
      Drew on his thirsting arms. This last thing known,
      He can court danger, laugh at perilous odds,
      And, pillowed on a memory so sweet,
      Unto oblivious eternity
      Without regret yield his victorious soul,
      The blessed pilgrim of a vow fulfilled.

      IV

      What is Success? Out of the endless ore
      Of deep desire to coin the utmost gold
      Of passionate memory; to have lived so well
      That the fifth moon, when it swims up once more
      Through orchard boughs where mating orioles build
      And apple flowers unfold,
      Find not of that dear need that all things tell
      The heart unburdened nor the arms unfilled.

      O Love, whereof my boyhood was the dream,
      My youth the beautiful novitiate,
      Life was so slight a thing and thou so great,
      How could I make thee less than all-supreme!
      In thy sweet transports not alone I thought
      Mingled the twain that panted breast to breast.
      The sun and stars throbbed with them; they were caught
      Into the pulse of Nature and possessed
      By the same light that consecrates it so.
      Love! -- - 'tis the payment of the debt we owe
      The beauty of the world, and whensoe'er
      In silks and perfume and unloosened hair
      The loveliness of lovers, face to face,
      Lies folded in the adorable embrace,
      Doubt not as of a perfect sacrifice
      That soul partakes whose inspiration fills
      The springtime and the depth of summer skies,
      The rainbow and the clouds behind the hills,
      That excellence in earth and air and sea
      That makes things as they are the real divinity.

      Alan Seeger



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Poets' Corner Scripting © 2009 S.L. Spanoudis and theotherpages.org.
All rights reserved worldwide.