PETER QUINCE AT THE CLAVIER
1 Just as my fingers on these keys
2 Make music, so the self-same sounds
3 On my spirit make a music, too.
4 Music is feeling, then, not sound;
5 And thus it is that what I feel,
6 Here in this room, desiring you,
7 Thinking of your blue-shadowed silk,
8 Is music. It is like the strain
9 Waked in the elders by Susanna;
10 Of a green evening, clear and warm,
11 She bathed in her still garden, while
12 The red-eyed elders, watching, felt
13 The basses of their beings throb
14 In witching chords, and their thin blood
15 Pulse pizzicati of Hosanna.
16 In the green water, clear and warm,
17 Susanna lay.
18 She searched
19 The touch of springs,
20 And found
21 Concealed imaginings.
22 She sighed,
23 For so much melody.
24 Upon the bank, she stood
25 In the cool
26 Of spent emotions.
27 She felt, among the leaves,
28 The dew
29 Of old devotions.
30 She walked upon the grass,
31 Still quavering.
32 The winds were like her maids,
33 On timid feet,
34 Fetching her woven scarves,
35 Yet wavering.
36 A breath upon her hand
37 Muted the night.
38 She turned --
39 A cymbal crashed,
40 Amid roaring horns.
41 Soon, with a noise like tambourines,
42 Came her attendant Byzantines.
43 They wondered why Susanna cried
44 Against the elders by her side;
45 And as they whispered, the refrain
46 Was like a willow swept by rain.
47 Anon, their lamps' uplifted flame
48 Revealed Susanna and her shame.
49 And then, the simpering Byzantines
50 Fled, with a noise like tambourines.
51 Beauty is momentary in the mind --
52 The fitful tracing of a portal;
53 But in the flesh it is immortal.
54 The body dies; the body's beauty lives.
55 So evenings die, in their green going,
56 A wave, interminably flowing.
57 So gardens die, their meek breath scenting
58 The cowl of winter, done repenting.
59 So maidens die, to the auroral
60 Celebration of a maiden's choral.
61 Susanna's music touched the bawdy strings
62 Of those white elders; but, escaping,
63 Left only Death's ironic scraping.
64 Now, in its immortality, it plays
65 On the clear viol of her memory,
66 And makes a constant sacrament of praise.