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Best Famous Elinor Wylie Poems

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by Elinor Wylie |

Now let no charitable hope

 Now let no charitable hope 
Confuse my mind with images 
Of eagle and of antelope: 
I am by nature none of these. 

I was, being human, born alone; 
I am, being woman, hard beset; 
I live by squeezing from a stone 
What little nourishment I get. 

In masks outrageous and austere 
The years go by in single file; 
But none has merited my fear, 
And none has quite escaped my smile.


by Elinor Wylie |

Les Lauriers Sont Coupée

 Ah, love, within the shadow of the wood 
The laurels are cut down; some other brows 
May bear the classic wreath which Fame allows 
And find the burden honorable and good. 
Have we not passed the laurels as they stood-- 
Soft in the veil with which Spring endows 
The wintry glitter of their woven boughs-- 
Nor stopped to break the branches while we could?

Ah, love, for other brows they are cut down. 
Thornless and scentless are their stems and flowers, 
And cold as death their twisted coronal. 
Sweeter to us the sharpness of this crown; 
Sweeter the wildest roses which are ours; 
Sweeter the petals, even when they fall.


by Elinor Wylie |

Incantation

 A white well 
In a black cave; 
A bright shell 
In a dark wave.

A white rose 
Black brambles hood; 
Smooth bright snows 
In a dark wood.

A flung white glove 
In a dark fight; 
A white dove 
On a wild black night.

A white door 
In a dark lane; 
A bright core 
To bitter black pain.

A white hand 
Waved from dark walls; 
In a burnt black land 
Bright waterfalls.

A bright spark 
Where black ashes are; 
In the smothering dark 
One white star.


by Elinor Wylie |

Curious Circumstance

 The sailorman's child 
And the girl of the witch-- 
They can't be defiled 
By touching pitch.

The sailorman's son 
Had a ship for a nursery; 
The other one 
Was baptised by sorcery.

Although he's shipped 
To the Persian Gulf, her 
Body's been dipped 
In burning sulphur.


by Elinor Wylie |

Cold-Blooded Creatures

 Man, the egregious egoist
(In mystery the twig is bent)
Imagines, by some mental twist,
That he alone is sentient

Of the intolerable load
That on all living creatures lies,
Nor stoops to pity in the toad
The speechless sorrow of his eyes.

He asks no questions of the snake,
Nor plumbs the phosphorescent gloom
Where lidless fishes, broad awake,
Swim staring at a nightmare doom.


by Elinor Wylie |

Love Song

 My own dear love, he is strong and bold 
And he cares not what comes after. 
His words ring sweet as a chime of gold, 
And his eyes are lit with laughter. 
He is jubilant as a flag unfurled -- 
Oh, a girl, she'd not forget him. 
My own dear love, he is all my world, -- 
And I wish I'd never met him. 

My love, he's mad, and my love, he's fleet, 
And a wild young wood-thing bore him! 
The ways are fair to his roaming feet, 
And the skies are sunlit for him. 
As sharply sweet to my heart he seems 
As the fragrance of acacia. 
My own dear love, he is all my dreams, -- 
And I wish he were in Asia. 

My love runs by like a day in June, 
And he makes no friends of sorrows. 
He'll tread his galloping rigadoon 
In the pathway of the morrows. 
He'll live his days where the sunbeams start, 
Nor could storm or wind uproot him. 
My own dear love, he is all my heart, -- 
And I wish somebody'd shoot him.


by Elinor Wylie |

Sanctuary

 My land is bare of chattering folk;
The clouds are low along the ridges,
And sweet's the air with curly smoke
From all my burning bridges.


by Elinor Wylie |

Love Song

 How can I keep my soul in me, so that
it doesn't touch your soul? How can I raise
it high enough, past you, to other things?
I would like to shelter it, among remote
lost objects, in some dark and silent place
that doesn't resonate when your depths resound.
Yet everything that touches us, me and you,
takes us together like a violin's bow,
which draws one voice out of two seperate strings.
Upon what instrument are we two spanned?
And what musician holds us in his hand?
Oh sweetest song.


by Elinor Wylie |

Atavism

 1
Sometimes in the open you look up
where birds go by, or just nothing,
and wait. A dim feeling comes 
you were like this once, there was air,
and quiet; it was by a lake, or
maybe a river you were alert
as an otter and were suddenly born
like the evening star into wide
still worlds like this one you have found
again, for a moment, in the open.


2
Something is being told in the woods: aisles of
shadow lead away; a branch waves;
a pencil of sunlight slowly travels its
path. A withheld presence almost
speaks, but then retreats, rustles
a patch of brush. You can feel
the centuries ripple generations
of wandering, discovering, being lost
and found, eating, dying, being born.
A walk through the forest strokes your fur,
the fur you no longer have. And your gaze
down a forest aisle is a strange, long
plunge, dark eyes looking for home.
For delicious minutes you can feel your whiskers
wider than your mind, away out over everything.


by Elinor Wylie |

August

 When my eyes are weeds,
And my lips are petals, spinning
Down the wind that has beginning
Where the crumpled beeches start
In a fringe of salty reeds;
When my arms are elder-bushes,
And the rangy lilac pushes
Upward, upward through my heart;

Summer, do your worst!
Light your tinsel moon, and call on
Your performing stars to fall on
Headlong through your paper sky;
Nevermore shall I be cursed
By a flushed and amorous slattern,
With her dusty laces' pattern
Trailing, as she straggles by.