Boys Bathing - Poem by Muriel Stuart
Round them a fierce, wide, crazy noon
Heaves with crushed lips and glowing sides
Against the huge and drowsy sun.
Beneath them turn the glittering tides
Where dizzy waters reel with gold,
And strange, rich trophies sink and rise
From decks of sunken argosies.
With shining arms they cleave the cold
Far reaches of the sea, and beat
The hissing foam with flash of feet
Into bright fangs, while breathlessly
Curls over them the amorous sea.
Naked they laugh and revel there.
One shakes the sea-drops from his hair,
Then, singing, takes the bubbles: one
Lies couched among the shells, the sands
Telling gold hours between his hands:
One floats like sea-wrack in the sun.
The gods of Youth, the lords of Love,
Greeks of eternal Thessaly,
Mocking the powers they know not of,
Naked and unembraced and free!
To whom the Siren sings in vain
To-day, to-morrow who shall be
The destined sport of gods and men.
Unseen, the immortal ones are here,
Remembering their mortal loves-
The strange, sweet flesh, the lips that were
Frail and most perishably fair.
Diana leaves her whispering groves,
And of Actaeon dreams and sighs,
And hears the hounds bay in the wood.
Oh, Cythera, the trembling blood
Upon one petal's paling mouth
Before thee and this noon must rise
While thou remember Adon's eyes!
One mournful and complaining shade
Beyond Avernus shakes his head,
Dreaming of one beloved youth
Borne from him, lost and dazed and dead,
Dragged by the nymphs avenging hair
Into the sea-bed oozing dim,
In that cold twilight unaware
Of each great sunrise over him.
. . . . . .
One day, while still these waters run,
And noon still heaves beneath this sun,
You shall creep, unremembering,
Whom Life has humbled and subdued,
Ruined your bodies, tamed your blood,
No more the lords of anything.
But spent and racked with mortal pains,
The slow tide pushing through your veins,
Coldly you face this magic shore;
For you the dsenchanted noon
Scarce haunted is with ghosts that were
Once, and were you, and are no more.
Faltering against the wind and sun
That vainly seek your hair for gold,
Stubborned with habit, grey and old,
You know not why you wander here,
Nor what vague dream pursues you still,
For Life ahs taken fullest toll
Of all your beauty; on each soul
Love's hand has left his bitter mark,
Has had of you his utmost will,
And thrusts you headlong to the dark.
And colder than these waters are
The stream that takes your limbs at last:
Earth's vales and hills drift slowly past. . .
One shore far off, and one more far
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