Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, DAUGHTERS OF JOY, by HERBERT TRENCH

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DAUGHTERS OF JOY, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Long, subtle-floating, the choir
Last Line: While man knows not of love, and cannot curb his fever.
Subject(s): London; Love - Nature Of; Women


LONG, subtle-floating, the choir
Of strings -- soft floods of tone --
In pleading dance-measure, invades
Cloud-like the pavement, where
With the night wind's vast lament in mine ears, I am walking alone.


You, from the dance yonder?
In tears, at this street-corner?
"I am going home, my friend.
(Strange, that you knew me!)
Dances are not for the sore heart, nor lights for the scorner."


How came you to live so, sister?
"Jealous was he I cared for --
False, but jealous -- he died --
Flung himself into the river?
And then a child . . . no matter! What should the child be spared for?


"What mattered? What matters in London
But the play of the iron mill?
It is full of women who smile
And heroes live upon them.
There, if a love rise in your heart, 'tis that that you must kill.


"Smile under the lamp-glare!
To laugh cracks your painting --
There's no place to weep there
Or bow the head in silence:
Under an archway the clever children mock at a woman fainting.


"Sick, hie to the almshouse --
Lie in your shroud, thinking!
Soiled before you have loved,
When you have loved, betrayed;
And is there, once betrayed, a better end than drinking?


"O wiser ones will save --
And then there may be marriage;
After precipitous years
Settling down (with your past
Always to take the opposite seat) in a well-padded carriage!"


Through Asia sweeps that voice,
Through Christendom and Jewry.
Look up at the tavern-door --
See! A phantom peering in,
The smile of a daughter of joy on the drawn face of a fury.


Down the dark tremendous vale
Whirling like leaves, O Daughters
Of Joy, O gash'd priestesses
Night-bound, hectic, marred,
Ye that were lovely once as clouds mirrored in waters,


To what dominion dire
Flag your fierce wings, till they
Glide through the dense realms lit
Only by eyes of prey?
Whither, O sister-spirits eternal, sink ye away?


"Back to the Past we sink,
Whence the human would be soaring,
To deep-pent Chaos back --
Hold out no hand to us --
Rushing disharmonies, lost, lost, past deploring!"


So the blazing rout shall coil
Unnumbered down for ever,
And the foul shall breed the foul,
And the heavenly heights be far,
While man knows not of love, and cannot curb his fever.

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