This is her island squared in cypress lines;
With cedar ranks about her alley walks
Set frequent, and the faces of the boles
Are crimson, deep as sunset stains of cloud.
The floor between them, rank and overgrown,
Is tangled with luxuriant heads of bloom,
All in a mat together, mixed with sedge.
There are bells of some wide wine-deep flowers,
Great apple fruits and tawny orange globes;
And bunchy cactus tipped in fire-bright buds.
Grey aloe spikes and heavy curling vines,
And speckled poison berries intertwined.
Her groves lead down upon the light free waves;
Her foam-heads dance and ripple into sound.
The laughter of many birds is in her elms
Jays, owls, sea-crows, larks, lapwings, nightingales,
As jumbled as the flowers beneath their notes.
The isle-grove ends abruptly on the sea,
A stranded star-fish neighbors by the sward,
Where the snail toils beneath his painted walls.
Small seaward gust irresolute breathe near;
And sweeter waftings, sent from the middle brine,
Stir the deep grasses at her perfect feet,
Where Circe, shining down the gaudy flowers,
Leans centre-light of all this paradise.
One ankle gleams against the margin turf,
Just beyond where the wave-teeth cease to bite.
And the sea-pinks grow less rosy at her feet.
But this enchantress, island-queen, herself
Bears on her head a bright tire marvelous,
And for a girdle one of many dyes
Woven and traced with curious pattern-spells.
Her face is not at first so beautiful,
That one should say 'Fear her, she will slay men
And draw them into deaths by her strange ways,
And some soft snare hid under all of her.'
We must consider well upon her face,
And the silent beauty of it all
Begins upon us, grows and greatens on,
Like sweet increasing music, chord on chord,
Till all our being falters overthrown;
And she lures out our soul into her hands,
As faint and helpless as a new-born babe,
To have her will and way with all of it.
O, she, this Circe mage, is strange and great,
And deadlier than those terrible bright forms,
That beam out on us with their grace.
Her love eats deeper to the core of men,
Scathing and killing, fierce and unappeased;
Until not only the divine in us,
But all the human also (which indeed
Are one, tho' this less perfect) fade and change,
And fall corrupted into alien forms.
Till we resemble those strange-headed things,
Herded away behind her island throne,
Chimaeras, tiger-apes, and wolfish swine.
A dark ocean breeze, electric with adrenaline, magic, and fear, clashing with the thick scent of poisoned berries and spiny aloe, against a backdrop of snowdrop, cedar, and cypress.