Isaac Rosenberg (25 November 1890 – 1 April 1918 / Bristol / England)
Daughters Of War
Space beats the ruddy freedom of their limbs,
Their naked dances with man's spirit naked
By the root side of the tree of life
(The under side of things
And shut from earth's profoundest eyes).
I saw in prophetic gleams
These mighty daughters in their dances
Beckon each soul aghast from its crimson corpse
To mix in their glittering dances :
I heard the mighty daughters' giant sighs
In sleepless passion for the sons of valour
And envy of the days fo flesh,
Barring their love with mortal boughs across-
The mortal boughs, the mortal tree of life.
The old bark burnt with iron wars
They blow to a live flame
To char the young green clays
And reach the occult soul; they have no softer lure,
No softer lure than the savage ways of death.
We were satisfied of our lords the moon and the sun
To take our wage of sleep and bread and warmth-
These maidens came-these strong everliving Amazons,
And in an easy might their wrists
Of night's sway and noon's sway the sceptres brake,
Clouding the wild, the soft lustres of our eyes.
Clouding the wild lustres, the clinging tender lights ;
Driving the darkness into the flame of clay
With the Amazonian wind of them
Over our corroding faces
That must be broken-broken for evermore,
So the soul can leap out
Into their huge embraces,
Though there are human faces
Best sculptures of Deity,
And sinews lusted after
By the Archangels tall,
Even these must leap to the love-heat of these maidens
From the flame of terrene days,
Leaving grey ashes to the wind-to the wind.
One (whose great lifted face,
Where wisdom's strength and beauty's strength
And the thewed strength of large beasts
Moved and merged, gloomed and lit)
Was speaking, surely, as the earth-men's earth fell away ;
Whose new hearing drank the sound
Where pictures, lutes, and mountains mixed
With the loosed spirit of a thought, Essenced to language thus
'My sisters force their males
From the doomed earth, from the doomed glee
And hankering of hearts.
Frail hands gleam up through the human quagmire, and lips of ash
Seem to wail, as in sad faded paintings
Far-sunken and strange.
My sisters have their males
Clean of the dust of old days
That clings about those white hands
And yearns in those voices sad :
But these shall not see them,
Or think of them in any days or years ;
They are my sisters' lovers in other days and years.'
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