Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, AD SERVAM, by GEORGE CABOT LODGE

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AD SERVAM, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Day through, night through rest never gave its guerdon
Last Line: "mine as she crushed them!"


Day through, night through rest never gave its guerdon,
Life unfolded never its heart's rejoicing,
Sleep stood wrapped in visions of endless waking,
Pale and relentless.


Dawn spread fire, the moon with its meagre twilight
Died, the trees grew full of fresh sound and shadow;
Bit with flame the implacable night, the sleepless
Shrivelled like parchment.


Day with dumb, white hours like scourges smote me,
Drop by drop day's river of sunlight drenched me,
Sight and sound day's weariness wrought upon me,
Wrought as with iron.


So was night shed silent as sifted ashes,
Dim and sweet the invisible spring suspired,
Voiced with song, earth's passion of parturition
Toiled in the twilight.


Over earth the shadows were shod with silence,
Night descended ample and rapt and faultless;
Still was rest withholden and, pale and lidless,
Sleep overglanced me.


Sleep! -- Dark page unlettered in life's sad volume --
Not for me thy cession of ceased remembrance,
Not for me thy dreamless, impassive mercy --
Thou hast denied me!


Fierce as fever blurred with fantastic fancy,
Night through, Life, with resonant lips convulsive,
Violent hands and eyes of incessant silence,
Smote and enslaved me.


All my flesh cried: "Symbol of starved desire,
"Pain of all pains weariest, thou hast cursed me
"Now with tears and now more cruel with laughter,
"Hurt and caressed me!"


Then I cried to Death with exceeding anguish,
Prayed her thus -- "O, Angel of tender wisdom!
"Wrap my brows in infinite night, in final
"Folds of thy cere-cloth!"


Then dislimned Life's image; the brawl and babble
Ceased; yea, Life, the implacable Life relented,
Turned and, mute as tho' to disclose its meaning,
Leaned to caress me.


Then I saw the shadowless eyes, the scarlet
Lips of laughter, lust and of little whispers,
Whispers low and languid with fierce dominion --
Life was translated!


Cried I then: "O, pity for me, O mighty
"Gods of altars white as the limbs of lovers" --
Then She laughed and suddenly, burned and broken,
Soul was defeated!


Thro' me smote her silence of stolen secrets,
Dear, too dear for words and too sweet for music,
Till She grew, in subtle and grievous longing,
Fervent as bloodshed.


Then I saw the glamour of limbs uncovered,
Saw the fresh, frail curves of her body broken,
Saw the mouth, the eyes everlasting vision
Moist with her passion.


Soul was spent, flesh severed with sharp desire, --
Flame on flame the print of her paces smote me,
Yea! the song and sway of her eager body
Surged in my senses.


Long I lay immobile, in monstrous struggle,
Endless waking, weariness tense as harp strings,
While the sobbing pulse of her blood against me
Beat thro' my body.


Briefly then I knew why the sleepless demon
Life, endured with sorrow and sound incessant,
Knew why all the veins of my body filtered
Wine for her thirsting.


Even Death, the goal and delight of living,
Wrapped with earth's thick shadows, the sea's dense silence,
Death, I knew, as Life in the day and night -- time,
Paled and grew sentient.


She, I knew, beneath my unlifting eyelids,
Dark with dust or blind with the weight of waters,
She could still, with fiery fingers, sever
Death from its shadow!


Yea! the cool, kind fingers of Death would kindle;
Sleep is scared and darkness too weak to wall me;
Naught conceals my soul from her soul's desire,
Slave She enslaves me!


So that now my body and soul in grievous
Love cry out -- "O God, I would choose her nervous
Fierce caress, tho' even the wings of slumber
Closed to enfold me!"


Tho' my sleepless hours like fire and fever
Burn my brain and all of my body suffers,
Tho' my soul is famished, my heart leaps out in
Wild supplication;


Cries -- "O thou, Implacable Aphrodite,
"Thou, whose feet flow flame and whose laughter lightens
"Down the trackless ways of the heart where bright blood
"Burns on thy traces! --


"Thou, of Gods most pitiless, sumptuous, sanguine --
"When I burn out body and soul and perish,
"Let my cinders, sifted thro' some sad twilight,
"Fall in Her pathway!


"Where Her feet fall, yea! and beneath Her paces
"Let me lie in dust and with dust be mingled,
"Thrilled as now to feel of Her flesh the burden
"Bruise me in passage!


"There, tho' stamped and scattered, Her feet could thrill me,
"Yea! till flowers from out of my dust transpired
"Still to lure Her fancy and still to feel Her
"Mine as she crushed them!"

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