Verse > Anthologies > Harriet Monroe, ed. > Poetry: A Magazine of Verse, 1912–22
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Harriet Monroe, ed. (1860–1936).  Poetry: A Magazine of Verse.  1912–22.
 
The Moonlight Sonata
By John Hall Wheelock
 
Glimmering meadows miles around,
Drenched with dew and drowsy sound,
Drink the moonlight and the dream.
Veiled in mists the lowlands seem
Through wild ways and fragrant aisles        5
Of the country miles on miles
Drifting cloudlike without will;
And soft mist is on the hill.
 
Everywhere earth’s shrill delight
Shakes and shimmers through the night;        10
Silver tides of music flow
’Round the world; the cricket’s low
Harp, the starry ecstasy
Of the keen cicada’s cry
With, “I love, I love, I love!”        15
To the cloudless moon above
Lifts the old, the endless song.
And the firefly, frail among
The low boughs and heavy leaves,
His hushed flight in silence weaves:        20
Deeper than the love they sing,
The unutterable thing
The sheer pang wherewith he glows
Burns his body as he goes.
Now earth draws the trembling veil        25
From her bosom cloudy pale,
And the messenger of night
Flows to her in shadowed light
Memories of the absent sun
Dreaming of his lovely one.        30
 
From that fiery embrace
Wearied out, with lifted face,
Tangled hair, and dewy eyes,
Drowsed and murmurous she lies
In the bride-sleep, the deep bliss        35
After some exalted kiss,
Swooning through the darkness dim.
Still with memories of him
Her hushed breath comes fierce and low,
And the love that thrilled her so        40
Stirs her slumber; from her lips
A deep sigh of longing slips.
 
Fragrant is thy flowery hair,
O belovèd—everywhere
Thy faint odor on the air        45
From dread arches of thy grace
Wafted! What dark secret place
Of dusk tresses in the wild
Midnight of thy locks beguiled,
Beckoning vistas of thy sheer        50
Maddening loveliness, the dear
Curves of thy bright beauty, all
Lure me to thy love! The call
Of past lives is in my breast—
Premonitions dimly guessed        55
Of seraphic solemn things,
Mingled lips and murmurings
On cool nights that gave me birth.
Yet, O mother, awful Earth!—
What stark mystery no less        60
Breaks the bosom that I press
Close against thy carelessness.
 
Where the holy poem of night—
In veiled music and moonlight,
Shimmering cries and stars and dreams—        65
Onward in soft rhythm streams;
With reluctant pulse and pause
To its lovely ending draws
Thy long passion, when unroll
The starred heavens like a scroll—        70
The old parable and story,
Some transcendent allegory—
Mother, mother, yet I know
Of cool nights that whispered so
When I was not, long ago!        75
When thy beauty, murmuring low
With abandon like a bride,
Throws her glimmering veils aside,
The dread love I dare not say
Turns my trembling lips away—        80
Something deeper, something more
Than I ever guessed before,
A new homesickness at heart
Hungering for the home thou art:
As the rivers to the one        85
Sea with solemn longing run,
So my being to thy breast,
So my sorrow to thy rest.
Thou art mother, thou art bride—
By what dearer name beside        90
Must I name thee, must I call,
Who art dearer far than all?
 
On thy heart I lay my head—
Oh, what is it thou hast said!
Secret beautiful and dread,        95
Lovely moment drawing near,
Thought most terrible and dear:
To be one with thy complete
Dark sweet loveliness, my sweet,
One with thy wild will again—        100
To descend in rushing rain
To thy ravished breast, to pour
Through the veins that I adore,
Drink deep draughts of thee, and grow
Through long love and longing so        105
Into the belovèd, flow
In thy deepest pulse, at home
In the dark and silent loam
Drenched with thee, and tremble up
In the lily’s lifted cup—        110
Odors, clouds, and starry haze,
Breath of the wet country ways
On cool, moon-clear, fragrant nights;
Or where thy supreme delight’s
Radiant passion draws aghast        115
Sobs of thunder through the vast—
Shuddering breath and murmur of
Thy fierce wrath of sullen love,
Laughter of thy mingling heart—
In thy lifted lightning’s dart        120
Through awed heaven’s glimmering bound,
With bright laughter all around,
With dark tears into the ground
Glide, and slake with loving rain
The parched caverns of thy pain!        125
 
Rapturous bridal! O wild heart!
To be part of thee, a part
Of this holy beauty here—
Sacred sorrow drawing near!
Sweet surrender! O my sweet,        130
Longingly my pulses beat—
Dazzling thought and fearful of
The dear fury of thy love!—
Even now that draws me down
My faint body to thine own        135
Near and nearer yet, till I
Tangled in thy being lie,
Close and close, for sheer excess
Wearied out with loveliness,
All this little self, this me,        140
Soothed into the self of thee,
Rendered up in ecstasy!
 
Almost now thou seem’st to steal
From my breast the self: I feel
How my being everywhere,        145
As in dream, upon the air
Widens ’round me, till I grow
All I look on, overflow;
And into the life adored
All the life of me is poured,        150
Through warm portals of thy heart
Drifting gently where thou art
Who art all things, in the breeze
Stirring all the tangled trees
To low whispers; how I pass        155
Through each tiny blade of grass,
Tremble in moonlight, and rise
Looking out of other eyes—
Mystery of mysteries!
Pang of self, and tragical        160
Birth into the enlightened all—
O dark rapture!—to flow, press,
Cease into thy loveliness,
With exalted weariness
Render up myself, and be,        165
Selfless, the dear self of thee,
In divine oblivion
One with the belovèd one!
 
Where I press my burning face,
Weeds and grasses interlace:        170
Sweetheart, are these dewy, soft
Tears for me, who must so oft
Perish of thee to be thine?
Deep I drink of them, divine
Dizzy draught, bewildering wine!        175
 
On the grass my head is bowed.
The vague moon is in a cloud.
From my breast I feel it stream,
All I loved so, like a dream.
Ah, I cannot understand,        180
But the wind is like a hand
On my forehead in caress.
And the earth is tenderness
Holy, grave, and very wise,
The deep tears are in her eyes;        185
While around her sleeplessly
Shrills the restless will-to-be.
Passion for eternity
Shakes in sound and floats in light
Through the darkness. Through the night        190
Clouds, and dreams, and fireflies,
And my songs of her arise.
 
 
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