Eight Harvard Poets/Incarnation

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INCARNATION


INCESSANTLY the long rain falls,
Slanting on black walls,
Which glisten gold where a street lamp shines.

In a shop-window, spangled in long lines,
By rain-drops all a-glow,
An Italian woman's face
Flames into my soul as I go
Hastily by in the turbulent darkness;—
An oval olive face,
With the sweetly sullen grace
Of the Virgin when first she sees,
Amid her garden's silver lilies,
The white-robed angel gleam,
And softly, as by a sultry dream,
Feels all her soul subdued unto the fire
And radiance of her ecstasy.
So in some picture, on which as on a lyre,
An old Italian painter laboriously has played
His soul away, his love, all his desire
For fragrant things afar from earth.
Shines the Madonna, as with a veil overlaid
By incense-smoke and dust age-old,

At whose feet, in time of dearth

Or need, a myriad men have laid
Their sorrows and arisen bold.

Incessantly the long rain falls,
Slanting on black walls.
But through the dark interminable streets,
Along pavements where rain beats
Its sharp tattoo, and gas-lamps shine,
Greenish gold in the solitude,
The vision flames through my mood
Of that Italian woman's face,

Through the dripping window-pane.