Ἐπὶ Λάτμῳ

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ἐπὶ Λάτμῳ
by Arthur Hugh Clough

ON THE mountain, in the woodland,
In the shaded secret dell,
        I have seen thee, I have met thee!
In the soft ambrosial hours of night,
In darkness silent sweet
        I beheld thee, I was with thee,
        I was thine, and thou wert mine!

When I gazed in palace-chambers,
When I trod the rustic dance,
Earthly maids were fair to look on,
Earthly maidens’ hearts were kind:
Fair to look on, fair to love:
But the life, the life to me,
’Twas the death, the death to them,
In the spying, prying, prating
Of a curious cruel world.
At a touch, a breath they fade,
They languish, droop, and die;
Yea, the juices change to sourness,
And the tints to clammy brown;
And the softness unto foulness,
And the odour unto stench.
Let alone and leave to bloom;
Pass aside, nor make to die,
—In the woodland, on the mountain,
Thou art mine, and I am thine.

So I passed.—Amid the uplands,
In the forests, on whose skirts
Pace unstartled, feed unfearing
Do the roe-deer and the red,
While I hungered, while I thirsted,
While the night was deepest dark,
Who was I, that thou should’st meet me?
Who was I, thou didst not pass?
Who was I, that I should say to thee
Thou art mine, and I am thine?

To the air from whence thou camest
Thou returnest, thou art gone;
Self-created, discreated,
Re-created, ever fresh,
Ever young!——
As a lake its mirrored mountains
At a moment, unregretting,
Unresisting, unreclaiming,
Without preface, without question,
On the silent shifting levels
Lets depart,
Shows, effaces and replaces
For what is, anon is not;
What has been, again’s to be;
Ever new and ever young
Thou art mine, and I am thine.

Art thou she that walks the skies,
That rides the starry night?
I know not————
For my meanness dares not claim the truth
Thy loveliness declares.
But the face thou show’st the world is not
The face thou show’st to me;
And the look that I have looked in
Is of none but me beheld.
I know not; but I know
I am thine, and thou art mine.

And I watch: the orb behind
As it fleeteth, faint and fair
In the depth of azure night,
In the violet blank, I trace
By an outline faint and fair
Her whom none but I beheld.
By her orb she moveth slow,
Graceful-slow, serenely firm,
Maiden-Goddess! while her robe
The adoring planets kiss.
And I too cower and ask,
Wert thou mine, and was I thine?

Hath a cloud o’ercast the sky?
Is it cloud upon the mountain-sides
Or haze of dewy river-banks
Below?—
Or around me,
To enfold me, to conceal,
Doth a mystic magic veil,
A celestial separation,
As of curtains hymeneal,
Undiscerned yet all excluding,
Interpose?
For the pine-tree boles are dimmer,
And the stars bedimmed above;
In perspective brief, uncertain,
Are the forest-alleys closed,
And to whispers indistinctest
The resounding torrents lulled.
Can it be, and can it be?
Upon Earth and here below,
In the woodland at my side
Thou art with me, thou art here.

’Twas the vapour of the perfume
Of the presence that should be,
That enwrapt me!
That enwraps us,
O my Goddess, O my Queen!
And I turn
At thy feet to fall before thee;
And thou wilt not:
At thy feet to kneel and reach and kiss thy finger-tips;
And thou wilt not:
And I feel thine arms that stay me,
And I feel————
O mine own, mine own, mine own,
I am thine, and thou art mine!

This work published before January 1, 1923 is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.