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 Dance before the Arch
By Allan Updegraff
 
WINDY April night-mist swept the Square;
  Lights among the leafage swayed and flashed;
Piquant bosky odors filled the air,
Piquant as a Maenad’s flying hair
  Late the dripping dogwood buds had lashed.        5
    Then three fared forth together:
      A wise old teacher of men,
    A poet who laughed with the weather,
      And a silent knight of the pen.
      They walked in the rain-witched park        10
      While the hours grew small and dark,
    And their talk was light as a feather
      That Bacchus blows at a mark.
 
All around, the city-sounds were whist;
  All about, where branches laughed and leapt,        15
Glints of eyes looked out into the mist,
Little, golden, dancing, rainbow-kissed:
  Little shapes and shadows flashed and crept.
    Then the sage: “O wonderful weather!
      Strange, eerie!” Then he of the pen:        20
    “The pixies are out all together:
      Valpurgis Nacht—Bacchus—Amen!”
      He waved his arms and inclined
      His face to the night, joy-blind.
    Then the poet: “Oh, pluck me a feather        25
      From the stretched gray wing of the wind!”
 
Over asphalt polished by the rain,
  Out of mist-swirls iris-splotched with light,
Loomed a sudden beauty, marble, plain,
Arched and sombre, fronting with disdain        30
  All the springtime turmoil of that night.
    Then the sage: “The old Arch, in this weather,
      Needs garlands.” Then he of the pen:
    “The lost Roman thing! All together!
      Get branches—we’re Romans again!”        35
      So they took each boughs in their hands,
      Obeying the ancient commands,
    When laurel put forth a green feather
      And Proserpine gathered her bands.
 
They marched in a grave, wild measure,        40
    They waved their boughs;
They were austere-faced for pleasure
    In the Spring’s house.
  The sharp wind gave them glee,
  The wind with a tang of the sea;        45
They drank it deep and at leisure
    As a nobly offered rouse.
There were faint lights under their feet,
  Each light with a halo of pearl;
There were lights in the night around,        50
  Each blown-mist-tressed like a girl.
    Faster their feet beat,
      With a quick, glad sound.
    “Io, Bacchus! Honey-sweet!”
      “Io, Proserpine!        55
      O golden! O divine!
    Loosed again from the ground!”
 
They lifted arms, they danced
    With quick breath;
Below, around, lights glanced        60
    As life from death.
“Io, Proserpine is dead:
    But the Spring lives!
Io, Bacchus,—where’s he fled?
    But the vine thrives!”        65
“Good hap to Aphrodite
    And her doves’ red feet:
Redder than new wine
    Are the lips of my sweet!”
      “Io, Spring!        70
        Young, new!
    Fairer for the vast
    Passionate old past:
      Io, Io, Spring
      I sing, I sing!        75
I am drunk with wine, with wine and the Spring!”
 
They danced, they swayed,
  The air sang
    Under their boughs;
They laughed, they played        80
  With the mist that stang
    Their mid-carouse.
“Io, Spring’s blood’s on my face
  And in my hair!”
“Io, Spring, magical maid,        85
  For me forswear!”
“The vine buds red,
  The willow gold,
The lady birch is white
And slim in the night:        90
Oh, make my bed
With white and gold and red,
  Or ever the year grows old
    And cold!
    Io, Io!        95
  And the tale of the frost is told!”
 
All around, the city-sounds were whist.
  Over asphalt polished by the rain
Loomed the sombre Arch amid the mist;
At its feet some boughs the Spring had kissed        100
  Whispered to the driving wind’s refrain.
    Then three fared forth together:
      A wise old teacher of men,
    A poet who sang with the weather,
      And a silent knight of the pen.        105
      They went arm-linked from the park
      That none be lost in the dark;
    And their hearts were light as a feather
      That Bacchus blows at a mark.
 
 
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