The End of Desire
by Hugh McCrae (1876-1958)
A flooded fold of sarcenet
Against her slender body sank,
Death-black, and beaded all with jet
Across the pleasures of her flank.
The incense of a holy bowl
Flowed round her knees, till it did seem
That she was standing on the shoal
Of some forbidden sunlit stream.
A little gong, far through the wall.
Complained like one deep sorrowing.
And from the arras I saw fall
The woven swallow fluttering;
While o’er the room there swam the breath
Of roses on a trellised tree;
Loose ladies in pretended death
Of sweet abandon to the bee.
Flames filled the hollows of my hands;
Red blood rushed, hammering, round my heart
Like mighty sleds when anvil bands
Gape out, and from their holdings start.
No peace had I, and knew not where
To find a solace that would kill
This pain of flesh so hard to bear.
This sin of soul against the will.
But ever yet mine eyes would seek
That golden woman build for love,
Whose either breast displayed the beak
Through pouted plumes, of Venus’ dove.
Her heavy hair, as smoke blown down
Athwart the fields of plenteousness;
Her folded lips, her placid frown,
Her insolence of nakedness.
I took her closely, but while yet
I trembled, vassal to my lust,
Lo!—Nothing but some sarcenet
Deep buried in a pile of dust.