nights of joy

Ah, many the long night thou and I
Have passed at ease with the wine-crowned cup,
Till the red dawn gleamed in the night-dim sky
And the stars of morn in the east rose up,
And along the west the stars of night
Like defeated armies pressed their flight.

Then the brightest of joys were ours to gain.
With never a care in the world to cloud,
And pleasure untouched by the hand of pain,
Were delight with eternal life endowed:
But alas! that even the fairest boon
Is doomed, like night, to be spent too soon.

Ibn Zaydun

the ransom

Come, let’s find the secret of the clear waters;
I’ll adore you, as a drowned person does the sea.

Those crabs whose hunger is sated on dead flesh
Will be our friendly escorts, in joy.

Queen, I raised to you this shining palace,
From the remains of a vessel shipwrecked at night . . .

The gardens of corals, anemones, and algae
Lose nothing from the autumn’s breath.

Laughing like harlequins in a burlesque,
We’ll mount astride the backs of sharks.

Your eyes will gleam like phosphor
Through the dusk where no dawn laughs.

I am the being your bare breast once charmed,
Unable to hate or love you enough,

Whom you devoured as does your own escort,
Those crabs whose hunger is sated on dead flesh . . .

Come, I’ll draw you the bitter water,
To love your death there in the sea’s night.

Renée Vivien

Dear, though the night is gone

Dear, though the night is gone,
The dream still haunts to-day
That brought us to a room,
Cavernous, lofty as
A railway terminus,
And crowded in that gloom
Were beds, and we in one
In a far corner lay.
Our whisper woke no clocks,
We kissed and I was glad
At everything you did,

Indifferent to those
Who sat with hostile eyes
In pairs on every bed,
Arms round each other’s necks,
Inert and vaguely sad.

O but what worm of guilt
Or what malignant doubt
Am I the victim of;
That you then, unabashed,
Did what I never wished,
Confessed another love;
And I, submissive, felt
Unwanted and went out?

W.H. Auden