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.
 
Aphrodite
By Howard Mumford Jones
 
From “University Sketches”

  I WALKED among the gray-walled buildings.
The city girdles them,
And distant clamors
Break on the timeless towers as the sea,
In March,        5
Whirls its long lines of sound against the coast.
 
  Among them the professors walked—
Stooping men with glasses
And queerly eager feet.
Some wore Van Dyke beards,        10
And on some the hair was silvered.
They talked very rapidly and all were laden
With many books.
 
  From hall to solemn hall the hurrying students
Streamed in black lines—        15
Youths and maidens chatting endlessly,
Worn women with drawn mouths,
And dissatisfied men.
They were seeking something,
Seeking, seeking,        20
Seeking they knew not what.
 
  I too passed with them into a building.
It was crowded with students,
And they seemed in the dingy light of the hall
Like spectres of dead youth.        25
The walls were drab,
The bulletin boards by the offices
And the ugly chandeliers
Looked dusty in the light;
And I wondered what light did in this place,        30
Struggling through the narrow panes—
The lord of life,
The eternal sun.
 
  Suddenly in the crowded hall
I saw her walking toward me,        35
The matchless, the miraculous,
The divine Aphrodite,
And around her the heedless students swarmed,
And saw her not.
 
  Ah, Aphrodite!        40
Her body in the crowded way like a pillar of light
Shone naked and beautiful,
The silver limbs, the lustrous bosom;
Her face was terrible,
Sweet and swift as lightning launched at midnight;        45
One arm was raised
And from her hand, her divine hand,
She scattered roses,
Red roses,
Crisp flakes of kindling fire.        50
A murmur of music floated around her
Like a sunset-colored cloud;
Her feet, moving, echoed strangely in my heart—
Eternal singing.
The centuries were singing;        55
The golden-hearted singers of the world
Were singing with them
Unutterable songs.
 
  Thou dead, thou deathless goddess,
Sprung of the wind and the wave and the clean, sweet foam!        60
The wild songs of the moving feet
Choked into silence …
Ah, Aphrodite!
 
  The students swarmed again about me,
Women with drawn mouths,        65
Dissatisfied men,
Seeking something, seeking,
Seeking they knew not what.
 
 
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