Treasure Island

Emmanuel George Cefai

(12th March 1955 / Victoria, Gozo)

Ah! Beauty When It Is Ravished


Ah! beauty when it is ravished
How wild, how wild its eyes will look
All drowsy as if just awoke
From steadfast dreams by drowsing poppies numbed
How wild, how wild and drowsy will she look!
Not long enough will be
The hours of the night, the long summer night
And all its humid heat and sweaty drops
When the full body rests the welcome rest
From the long tedious day of laboring
And the limbs their muscled beauty relax
Unto the soothing night, the welcome night.
Below the casement a small rill with happy mien
Gurgles into the night its dark unfettered voice
And its unconquered syllables indistinct
And heard and understood by satyrs bright
That hold unseen their winy feast at night
Into some coppice still and olive-green and calm
While the still wind a single rustle does not make
In the thick foliage of the talling oak
Within whose highest branch the old owl rests
And with awakened eye half-opened half-closed
Looks all before at night she witnesses
The dances of the fauns amidst the green
And sheltered avenues sentinel by trees
And feasting satyrs red-lipped with warm wine
And hold cups and drinking to their god
That from his heaven upon them smiling looks:
Ah! long the night beneath the bending yew
It seems a pilgrim gray half-bending and all still
And by him lies his staff unmoving quite
And with him Time rested and did not move:
Ah! pilgrim Time the night has conquered too
Your limbs with its faint drowsiness
And faint half-audible caresses
That in the ear melt like a serpent hiss
Or like the sorceries of Circe when she lay
Into the cave to calm Ulysess’s whims
Whilst waves reflected danced all long the rocks
That were the roof reflected from the sea
That down below down giddying heights
The sea-waves danced with nymphs that danced on them:
Full rippling the love-words of Ocean waves
When dreaming in the waters drowses more
In feeling their cool numbers to him flow
Ah! drowsy beauty wild untamed unfettered
By the musty parchments of conventions old
And hated as the ancient Saturn gods:
That Jove and his men duly overturned
The old though good with hate all covered goes
When time wills that it cede unto the new
A leaf that in its glory in the sunshine basked
When time doth make it sere ‘twill hate itself
And wish its bough by its new spring replace:
How drowsy beauty is, how wild untamed
How magic are the castles that it dreams
And in it waves will leap
Over a hundred stories to the fort
Where lies love and grace and history
And that like lighthouse in the night
Shines its tall rays unto the welcome skiff:
That the tall bosom of the sea swift plies
Into the long night, the long welcome night.
How will the blood to the warm veins
Rush in delight like wine a-warming full
When Bacchus holds his feasts and revels full
And laughs resound from the dark coppice green
Where he and his companions revel full
Hid from curious eyes and human steps.
But now gray pilgrim Time stirs full and tall
He rises now and looking at his watch
He on his staff his voyage now resumes
And sands again now trickle down the glass
Anon unwarranted the eyes of Down
Into the dark nocturnal mantle peer and see
Making full breach with it: soon the dress
That satins the dark mantle of the night
Will here and there dissolve and loose
Its dark transparent gloss to a light grey
Wherein the rising Dawn by slow degrees
Tears the web of dark that night has meshed
Till the downy structure to its feet
Is like a castle to its crushing sent:
Awhile the sun a-shedding his stirrups gay
To ride into his car with joy prepares:
And dwindles the long night, the welcome night
But beauty still with ravished eyes and wild
Into the drowsy dawn will rise and look.

Submitted: Friday, October 14, 2011
Edited: Friday, October 14, 2011

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