Maurice Hewlett

(1861-1923 / England)


Oreithyia, by the North Wind carried
To stormy Thrace from Athens where you tarried
Down by Ilissus all a blowy day
Among the asphodels, how rapt away
Thither, and in what frozen bed wert married?

'I was a King's tall daughter still unwed,
Slim and desirable my locks to shed
Free from the fillet. He my maiden belt
Undid with busy fingers hid but felt,
And made me wife upon no marriage bed.

'As idly there I lay alone he came
And blew upon my side, and beat a flame
Into my cheeks, and kindled both my eyes.
I suffered him who took no bodily guise:
The light clouds know whether I was to blame.

'Into my mouth he blew an amorous breath;
I panted, but lay still, as quiet as death.
The whispering planes and sighing grasses know
Whether it was the wind that loved me so:
I know not--only this, 'O love,' he saith,

''O long beset with love, and overloved,
O easy saint, untempted and unproved,
O walking stilly virgin ways in hiding,
Come out, thou art too choice for such abiding!
She never valued ease who never roved.

''Thou mayst not see thy lover, but he now
Is here, and claimeth thy low moonlit brow,
Thy wonderful eyes, and lips that part and pout,
And polished throat that like a flower shoots out
From thy dark vesture folded and crossed low.'

'With that he had his way and went his way;
For Gods have mastery, and a maiden's nay
Grows faint ere it is whispered all. I sped
Homeward with startled face and tiptoe tread,
And up the stair, and in my chamber lay.

'Crouching I lay and quaked, and heard the wind
Wail round the house like a mad thing confined,
And had no rest; turn wheresoe'er I would
This urgent lover stormed my solitude
And beat against the haven of my mind.

'And over all a clamour and dis-ease
Filled earth and air, and shuddered in my knees
So that I could not stand, but by the wall
Leaned pitifully breathing. Still his call
Volleyed against the house and tore the trees.

'Then out my turret-window as I might
I leaned my body to the blind wet night;
That eager lover leapt me, circled round,
Wreathed, folded, held me prisoner, wrapt and bound
In manacles of terror and delight.

'That night he sealed me to him, and I went
Thenceforth his leman, submiss and content;
So from the hall and feast, whenas I heard
His clear voice call, I flitted like a bird
That beats the brake, and garnered what he lent.

'I was no maid that was no wife; my days
Went by in dreams whose lights are golden haze
And skies are crimson. Laughing not, nor crying,
I strayed all witless with my loose hair flying,
Bearing that load that women think their praise.

'And felt my breasts grow heavy with that food
That women laugh to feel and think it good;
But I went shamefast, hanging down my head,
With girdle all too strait to serve my stead,
And bore an unguessed burden in my blood.

'There was a winter night he came again
And shook the window, till cried out my pain
Unto him, saying, 'Lord, I dare not live!
Lord, I must die of that which thou didst give!
Pity me, Lord!' and fell. The winter rain

'Beat at the casement, burst it, and the wind
Filled all the room, and swept me white and blind
Into the night. I heard the sound of seas
Beleaguer earth, I heard the roaring trees
Singing together. We left them far behind.

'And so he bore me into stormy Thrace,
Me and my load, and kissed back to my face
The sweet new blood of youth, and to my limbs
The wine of life; and there I bore him twins,
Zethes and Calaïs, in a rock-bound place.'

Oreithyia, by the North Wind carried
To stormy Thrace, think you of how you tarried
And let him woo and wed? 'Ah, no, for now
He's kissed all Athens from my open brow.
I am the Wind's wife, wooed and won and married.'

Submitted: Tuesday, October 05, 2010

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