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 World’s Desire
By Edgar Lee Masters
 
AT Philae, in the temple of Isis,
The fruitful and terrible goddess,
Under a running panel of the sacred ibis,
Is pictured the dead body of Osiris
Waiting the resurrection morn.        5
And a priest is pouring water blue as iris
Out of a pitcher on the stalk of corn
That from the body of the god is growing,
Before the rising tides of the Nile are flowing.
And over the pictured body is this inscription        10
In the temple of Isis, the Egyptian:
This is the nameless one, whom Isis decrees
Not to be named, the god of life and yearning,
Osiris of the mysteries,
Who springs from the waters ever returning.        15
 
At the gate of the Lord’s house,
Ezekiel, the prophet, beheld the abomination of Babylon:
Women with sorrow on their brows
In lamentation, weeping
For the bereavement of Ishtar and for Tammuz sleeping,        20
And for the summer gone.
Tammuz has passed below
To the house of darkness and woe,
Where dust lies on the bolt and on the floor
Behind the winter’s iron door;        25
And Ishtar has followed him,
Leaving the meadows gray, the orchards dim
With driving rain and mist,
And winds that mourn.
Ishtar has vanished, and all life has ceased;        30
No flower blossoms and no child is born.
 
But not as Mary Magdalen came to the tomb,
The women in the gardens of Adonis,
Crying, “The winter sun is yet upon us,”
Planted in baskets seeds of various bloom,        35
Which sprouted like frail hopes, then wilted down
For the baskets’ shallow soil.
Then for a beauty dead, a futile toil,
For leaves that withered, yellow and brown,
From the gardens of Adonis into the sea,        40
They cast the baskets of their hope away:
A ritual of the things that cease to be,
Brief loveliness and swift decay.
 
And O ye holy women, there at Delphi
Rousing from sleep the cradled Dionysus,        45
Who with an April eye
Looked up at them,
Before the adorable god, the infant Jesus,
Was found at Bethlehem!
 
For at Bethlehem the groaning world’s desire        50
For spring, that burned from Egypt up to Tyre,
And from Tyre to Athens beheld an epiphany of fire:
The flesh fade flower-like while the soul kept breath
Beyond the body’s death,
Even as nature which revives;        55
In consummation of the faith
That Tammuz, the Soul, survives,
And is not sacrificed
In the darkness where the dust
Lies on the bolt and on the floor,        60
And passes not behind the iron door
Save it be followed by the lover Christ,
The Ishtar of the faithful trust,
Who knocks and says: “This soul, which winter knew
In life, in death at last,        65
Finds spring through me, and waters fresh and blue.
For lo, the winter is past;
The rain is over and gone.
I open! It is dawn!
 
 
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