Behind the Arras: A Book of the Unseen

by Bliss Carman


 

Exit Anima

"Hospes comesque corporis,
Quae nunc abitis in loca?"


 

CEASE, Wind, to blow
And drive the peopled snow,
And move the haunted arras to and fro,
And moan of things I fear to know
Yet would rend from thee, Wind, before I go
5

On the blind pilgrimage.
Cease, Wind, to blow.

Thy brother too,
I leave no print of shoe
In all these vasty rooms I rummage through,

10

No word at threshold, and no clue
Of whence I come and whither I pursue
The search of treasures lost 
When time was new.

Thou janitor

15
Of the dim curtained door,
Stir thy old bones along the dusty floor
Of this unlighted corridor.
Open! I have been this dark way before;
Thy hollow face shall peer
20

In mine no more…

Sky, the dear sky!
Ah, ghostly house, good-by!
I leave thee as the gauzy dragon-fly
Leaves the green pool to try

25

His vast ambition on the vaster sky,—
Such valor against death
Is deity.

What, thou too here,
Thou haunting whisperer?

30
Spirit of beauty immanent and sheer,
Art thou that crooked servitor,
Done with disguise, from whose malignant leer
Out of the ghostly house 
I fled in fear?
35


O Beauty, how
I do repent me now,
Of all the doubt I ever could allow
To shake me like the aspen bough;
Nor once imagine that unsullied brow

40

Could wear the evil mask
And still be thou!

Bone of thy bone,
Breath of thy breath alone,
I dare resume the silence of a stone,

45
Or explore still the vast unknown,
Like a bright sea-bird through the morning blown,
With all his heart one joy,
From zone to zone.

 

Scituate, June, 1895.