There, in the coppice, oak and pine And mystic yew and elm are found, Sweeping the skies, that grew divine With the dark wind's despairing sound, The wind that roars from the profound, And smites the mountain-tops, and calls Mute spirits to black festivals, And feasts in valleys iron-bound, Desolate crags, and barren ground;-- There in the strong storm-shaken grove Swings the pale censer-fire for love.
The foursquare altar, roughly hewn, And overlaid with beaten gold, Stands in the gloom; the stealthy tune Of singing maidens overbold Desires mad mysteries untold, With strange eyes kindling, as the fleet Implacable untiring feet Weave mystic figures manifold That draw down angels to behold The moving music, and the fire Of their intolerable desire.
For, maddening to fiercer thought, The fiery limbs requicken, wheel In formless furies, subtly wrought Of swifter melodies than steel That flashes in the fight: the peal Of amorous laughters choking sense, And madness kissing violence, Ring like dead horsemen; bodies reel Drunken with motion; spirits feel The strange constraint of gods that clip From Heaven to mingle lip and lip.
The gods descend to dance; the noise Of hungry kissings, as a swoon, Faints for excess of its own joys, And mystic beams assail the moon, With flames of their infernal noon; While the smooth incense, without breath, Spreads like some scented flower of death, Over the grove; the lover's boon Of sleep shall steal upon them soon, And lovers' lips, from lips withdrawn, Seek dimmer bosoms till the dawn.
Yet on the central altar lies The sacrament of kneaded bread, With blood made one, the sacrifice To those, the living, who are dead-- Strange gods and goddesses, that shed Monstrous desires of secret things Upon their worshippers, from wings One lucent web of light, from head One labyrinthine passion-fed Palace of love, from breathing rife With secrets of forbidden life.
But not the sunlight, nor the stars, Nor any light but theirs alone, Nor iron masteries of Mars, Nor Saturn's misconceiving zone, Nor any planet's may be shown, Within the circle of the grove, Where burn the sanctities of love: Nor may the foot of man be known, Nor evil eyes of mothers thrown On maidens that desire the kiss Only of maiden Artemis.
But horned and huntress from the skies, She bends her lips upon the breeze, And pure and perfect in her eyes, Burn magical virginity's Sweet intermittent sorceries. When the slow wind from her sweet word In all their conchéd ears is heard. And like the slumber of the seas, There murmur through the holy trees The kisses of the goddess keen, And sighs and laughters caught between.
For, swooning at the fervid lips Of Artemis, the maiden kisses Sobs and the languid body slips Down to enamelled wildernesses. Fallen and loose the shaken tresses; Fallen the sandal and girdling gold, Fallen the music manifold Of moving limbs and strange caresses, And deadly passion that possesses The magic ecstasy of these Mad maidens, tender as blue seas.
Night spreads her yearning pinions, The baffled day sinks blind to sleep; The evening breeze outswoons the sun's Dead kisses to the swooning deep. Upsoars the moon; the flashing steep Of Heaven is fragrant for her feet; The perfume of the grove is sweet As slumbering women furtive creep To bosoms where small kisses weep, And find in fervent dreams the kiss Most memoried of Artemis.
Impenetrable pleasure dies Beneath the madness of new dreams; The slow sweet breath is turned to sighs More musical than many streams Under the moving silver beams, Fretted with stars, thrice woven across. White limbs in amorous slumber toss, Like sleeping foam, whose silver gleams On motionless dark seas; it seems As if some gentle spirit stirred, Their lazy brows with some swift word.
So, in the secret of the shrine, Night keeps them nestled, so the gloom Laps them in waves as smooth as wine, As glowing as the fiery womb Of some young tigress, dark as doom, And swift as sunrise. Love's content Builds its own monument, And carves above its vaulted tomb The Phoenix on her fiery plume, To their own souls to testify Their kisses' immortality.
I'm a woman, a Witch, a mother, a grandmother, an eco-feminist, a gardener, a reader, a writer, and a priestess of the Great Mother Earth. Hecate appears in the
Homeric Ode to Demeter, which tells of Hades who caught Persophone
"up reluctant on his golden car and bare her away lamenting. . . . But no one, either of the deathless gods or of mortal men, heard her voice, nor yet the olive-trees bearing rich fruit: only tenderhearted Hecate, bright-coiffed, the daughter of Persaeus, heard the girl from her cave . . . ."