Verse > Anthologies > Harriet Monroe, ed. > Poetry: A Magazine of Verse, 1912–22
Harriet Monroe, ed. (1860–1936).  Poetry: A Magazine of Verse.  1912–22.
Kan-Il-Lak the Singer
By Constance Lindsay Skinner

  NAK-KU, desired!
Thine eyes speak gifts
But thy hands are empty.
Thy lips draw me
Like morning’s flame on a song-bird’s wing.        5
I follow—but thy kiss is denied.
I am a hunter alone in a forest of silence.
Under what bough
Are the warm wings of thy kiss folded?
  Amid the scent of berries drying        10
From my high roof I have seen the dusky sea
Trip rustlingly along the sand-floors,
In little moccasins of silver, moon-broidered with shells of longing.
Ah, thy little moccasins, Nak-Ku!
But thy feet recede from me like ebbing tides.        15
  I have closed my door:
The heavy cedar-blanket hangs before it.
Since thou comest not,
Better that my narrow pine couch seem wide as a winter field.
The moon makes silver shadows on my floor through the poplars.        20
The wind rustles the leaves,
Swaying the boughs o’er the smoke-hole;
The little silver shadows run toward my couch—
Ah-hi, Nak-Ku!
  I hear the pattering of women on the sand-paths:        25
Fluttered laughs, bird-whisperings before my lodge—
“Oh lover, lover!”
Brave little fingers tap upon the cedar-blanket.
But I do not open my door—
Better this grief!        30
I am thy poet, Nak-Ku,
Faithful to her who has given me

  I have given dreams to Kan-il-Lak, the singer!
  Oh, what care I, Kan-il-Lak,        35
Though thy hut be full of witches,
Thy lips’ melody flown before their kisses?
Know I not that all women
Must to the singer bring their gifts?
Know I not that to the singer comes at last        40
His hour of gift-judging?
  I will lie, like a moonbeam, in thy heart.
  A hundred gifts shall fall regarded not:
But where among the dust of forgetfulness
The one pearl shell is found—        45
Pure, faint-flushed with longing,
The deeps no man has seen
Brimming its lyric mouth with mystical murmurs—
There shalt thou pause
And render me thy song!        50
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