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BANNERS



BABETTE
DET T TSCH






BANNERS
-BABETTE DEUTSCH



BANNERS



BY



BABETTE DEUTSCH




NEW ^ST YORK
GEORGE H. DORAN COMPANY



Copyright, 1919,
By George H. Doran Company



Printed in the United States of America






TO
MY MOTHER

AND
THE MEMORY OF MY FATHER



For courteous permission to reprint certain of
these poems, the author thanks the editors of The
Dial, The Liberator, The Lyric, The Maccabcean,
The Nation, The New Republic, The North Ameri
can Review, Pearson s, Poetry (Chicago), Reedy s
Mirror, The Seven Arts, The Smart Set, The Sonnet,
and The Texas Review.



CONTENTS
THE DANCERS

PAGE

THE DANCERS 13

BACCHANAL 15

ANNA 17

A GIRL 18

EXILES 19

EPHEMERIS

EPHEMERIS 23

MARBLES 25

TRAILS 28

GENRE 31

GARDENS 32

OMBRES CHINOISES 33

DISTANCE 34

SMOKE 36

ROMANCE 38

TWO HOKKUS 39

SHOWER 4O

"TO AN AMIABLE CHILD" 4!

THE DEATH OF A CHILD 43

SEA-MUSIC 44

HARMONICS 45

IX



CONTENTS

SONGS AND SILENCES PAGE

SONGS 51

SILENCE 52

FROM THE FERRY 53

WALLS 54

DAWN 55

CANDLES 56

LURES 57

SEA PIECE 58

PRELIBATION . 59

SONNETS

THE SILVER CHORD 63

SIC SEMPER 64

SOLITUDE 6=;

THE UNDELIVERED 66

ATHANATOS 67

SEVERANCE 68

THE PERFECTIONIST 69

TO RANDOLPH BOURNE 70

REDEMPTION 71

BANNERS

BANNERS 75

THE CHALLENGER 78

ALIENS So

KING S PARK 82

JUNE: 1917 85

THE NEW DIONYSIAC 88

BEAUTY 90

PSALM FOR THE NEW ZION 92

ZORKA 96

ET LE BON DIEU PENSA 99

X



-



THE DANCERS






THE DANCERS

FROM the grey woods they come, on silent feet

Into a cone of light.

A moment poised,

A lifting note,

O fair! O fleet!

Whence did you come in your amazing flight?

And whither now

Do you, reluctant, wistfully retreat?

Oh surely you have danced upon the hills

With the immortals.

As an arrow thrills

Thru the blue air and sings,

You join with the proud wind, your fluent limbs

As tameless as his wings.

Within your hollowed hand you hold the draught

That wakes us from our lingering lethargy

To skyey joy

Like yours, luring and swift and free.

Yours is the birth in beauty that was sung

A golden age ago;

And now you come

13



BANNERS
DANCERS continued

With pipe and timbrel and the quickening drum,

Till men have hope of conquest over time

And death and tears.

Dreams know not any bars.

You leap like living music thru the air

And love triumphant treads among the stars.



14



THE DANCERS



BACCHANAL

SLOWLY to the altar . . . slow,

As with heavy feet,

Bound by a woe foreknown,

Slowly we come.

Our arms bear high

Their bloomy burden, lift and loose them all;

We shake our limbs free in the purple fall

Of offering.

The dark is torn with a cry.

Oh we are mad,

We are drunk with wine of the god.

Our feet are athrill with the juice of the vine we

have trod.

Our arms are upflung,
Our fingers are spread on the air;
The scent of the grape in our nostrils;
The wind in our hair.
We are mad with our maidenhood;
Night has come down on the hills.
We dance for the god

15



BANNERS
BACCHANAL continued

Where the music of mystery fills
The hollows of earth, and the stars leap white in
the sky.

Our glad hands softly beat.

With beautiful stamping feet

We come.

With flying hair;

To face the awful joining,

Throat lifted, pale knees bare.

Slowly on the dark mountain-top

Moving,

More slowly now . . .

Faint and vague are our traces,

Trouble and halt in our paces

Where wan dawn follows close.

God, we are overthrown.

Night breaks, we lie alone.

Evoe ! Dionysos.



i 6



THE DANCERS



ANNA

ARE there holier ones

Than these?

Is there a more fit altar for worship?

Limbs of a young Aphrodite;

The virgin torso;

Feet firmly planted,

Or lifted only in rhythm,

Beating the ground like the clear

Round golden notes of the cymbal;

Fingers that draw the heart

Like a flute that calls in the twilight;

Brows serious,

Serene,

Hair wind-blown and dark,

Lips that are parted slightly,

A wondering god s;

But this is a maiden. . . .

This is the flyng torch

For the maternal temple.



17



BANNERS



A GIRL

You also, laughing one,
Tosser of balls in the sun,
Will pillow your bright head
By the incurious dead.



i 8






THE DANCERS



EXILES

BY what wind-loved grasses,

By what grey sea

Do they dwell,

The restless ones, forever returning

To the places their lovers remember?

They are a moment seen,

Tossing their golden balls,

Or running far, far

Beyond the sands where the skies vanish.

They come again

In the dawn twilight,

In the bird-broken silences.

But they are gone

Ungathered

Cliff-flowers, . . .

The grace of foam

Lost in the bitter green waters.



19



EPHEMERIS



EPHEMERIS



EPHEMERIS

ABOVE the river in a summer swoon

Hangs the still air, and in the warm embrace

Of afternoon

We too lie dumbly, full of soft delight.

The grass is sweet to smell:

We suck the white

Fresh ends of it, and the green pleasant place

Where we are lapped seems with that faint taste

sweeter

Than any poppied isle in remote seas
To some divinely drowsy lotus-eater.
Long, long

We lie, and have no care for any human thing,
Save for the snatch of song
Where, bathing gaily, tawny-bodied boys
Upfling

The water round them ; or from a child at play
Floats the shrill ripple of laughter far away.
And then sharp stillness, pointed by the stir
Of little winds among the boughs, wherethru
The deep sky shines impenetrably blue.

23



BANNERS

EPH EMERIS continued

Wrapped in that golden haze we weave at will
The scents and airs of summer s subtle loom;
Regretting but the moments as they pass,
The perished bloom

Of the wan day, that like the wind is gone;
And in the growing hush we watch her die ;
And watch, beneath the same impersonal sky
The wimpled river flowing greyly on.



EPHEMERIS



MARBLES

THE boys are playing marbles in the street;
Crouched with gay eyes intent on the rough

ground,

Heedless of storming labyrinthal feet,
Keen only for the lovely sound
Of knocking balls
And colors brightly blent.
Glazed potties, blue and green and lavender,
Gleam near pale stonies warm eburnean;
Like earth and splintered diamond, agates shine;
Glassies are struck alive with sun;
Blood-alleys glow like drops of frozen wine.
Here beauty lies : a bracelet all unstrung
For the March city
While she smiles and stirs
Above the eager gamble, knuckle-down, of her

young jewellers.

Marbles, and March, the tossing wind, and the

click

Of ball on ball, and wild tumultuous cries,
25



BANNERS
MARBLES continued

Anger and laughter, adventure!
A glance and a thumb s short flick:
Rubies and amber and lustrous Carrara to win.
Hope jigs in the heart.
White house-tops sail in the skies.
Romance winks from the dust where the colored
alleys spin.



The clangorous traffic drowns the hurrying

crowd s

Nervous relentless tread.
Sunset climbs down the clouds.
Day and the wind are dead.
There are separate ways in the dusk, and lonely

shrill farewells.

To lamplit windows and his narrow bed
Each goes, a trifle wistful.
Yet each knows
Prodigious spells

To charm the hours between sun and sun.
The bulging pockets grin; the spoils in reach
Of gloating sight and touch all night must lie.
Each has by heart their palpable smooth speech,
Their singing colors lullaby.
26



EPHEMERIS

MARBLES continued

Marbles, and March, and the dreams of a soft

Spring night:

Prizes of amber and ivory, lapis and jade.
An arrow of moving light. . . .
They rouse at the joyous noise
Of kissing balls
To the thrill of games unplayed.



27



BANNERS



TRAILS

WHERE grey-limbed timber mingled whispering

boughs,

The forest shadow splintering the sun,
Warm-eyed and suddenly very young, you stood.
Palpitant nostrils breathed the smell of wood:
"Growing, or fresh-cut,
It s the smell of home."
You moved and put your arms around a tree
And laughed at me.
And the boy you were,
From the highest branch that bore his weight,

laughed back.
Then swinging free,
You were a man again,
Taking me down the wild-grown track
To the fishing-brook where Spring would find you,
Forgetful of the jerking hook,
Conjuring out of the dusk behind you
The genii and the heroes of your book.
"This little brook is a feeder of the river,"
You said, and with strange adult gravity
28



EPHEMERIS
TRAILS continued

Led me beyond the pebble-bottomed stream
With wise talk of log-rolling, pretty grains,
And strong, elastic beams.
Your voice, caressing
The woods you named, echoed a boy s
Excited treble, and recalled the boy
Leaping and like a leaf aquiver
With joy, since he was going up the river
To spend a week-end at the lumber-camp.
That was a place of magic, if you like.
Hard bunks, coarse food (the bread in peasant-
hunks

Like fairy-tales), the huge rough strength of men,
The early morning hours as fresh and cool
As if earth had been dipped into a pool
And still were dripping with it.
Best, the times when they were busiest,
Too busy to be mindful of a boy,
And only flung the word: "Watch out, there!"

when

They tightened ropes, let big chips fly, and then
Cleared for the monstrous crashing, loud and

clean.

It had your mark on it, one branching oak:
The trunk was like a totem with its signs.
29



BANNERS
TRAILS continued

But when the boughs rubbed and the leafage spoke

With wind, the sound was like the soft slow roar

Of ocean breaking on a distant shore.

The forest thinned and vanished, the sky changed;

The boy was nowhere, and the man estranged.

I stood perplexed in your familiar haunts,

An alien;

Time, with subtle taunts, had banished me outside

the magic wood.
Wonderfully,

All the bright life that we had known together:
The concert-rooms, the gossip,
The mad weather
We tramped thru gaily,
The fencing over cigarettes and tea,
The sweet fierce quarrels in the gallery. . . .
Paled, faded, was the memory of a mood.
Only the boy was real, and he had fled,
And you had followed him.
But you are dead.



30



EPHEMER1S



GENRE

THE undulant wind-shadowed water lips

The weather-bitten wharf.

Like anchored phantoms, ships

Swing out from the warped slips, with a drowsy

rhythm

As of insects singing.
Inland, the sunwarmed smell of grass
Comes softly on.

There is a presence as of hours that pass
In silence, and inhumanly are gone.
The grey haze does not lift.
The river is wood-colored like the pier.
A lonely shed

Down by the water s edge gleams harshly red.
The tide is full ... the worn piles heave and

drift.



BANNERS



GARDENS

INTO the dropping sun as into a warm flower

The strong sun breaks.

Petals on glowing petals shower

In gorgeous rain,

Crimsoning windows, dyeing the passionless city

With wild pomegranate stain.

The tropic hour

Fades slowly,

Slowly the evening flower

Puts forth its luminous blues and lucent jades,

Opening only to withdraw and close

Before the unfolding of night s velvet rose,

Trembling with starry dews.

Gold is the scentless garden of the sky,

Imperishably bright.

Yet we who lie under its glory, crushing the young

grass,

Turn from it, as from beauty in a glass,
To the flowers that spring near us, that will die.



32



EPHEMERIS



OMBRES CHINOISES

THE city misted in rain, dim wet flashes of light

Strike thru the dusk; vaguely thunders a train;

The cabs rattle and slip over the glimmering street.

Under the wheels and hooves and hurrying feet

The darkly shining pave

Reaches into the night.

On blackness color flames: purple and blurs of

red

Like fruits of faery bloom,
Yellow soft as honey and gold, green as tho

crushed emeralds bled,
Arctic blue in pale cold ribbons
Lost in gloom.

Wind, and across the shaken lanterns
The obscure shadows loom.



33



BANNERS



DISTANCE

Two pale old men

Sit by a squalid window playing chess.

The heavy air and the shrill cries

Beyond the sheltering pane are less

To them than roof-blockaded skies.

Life flowing past them :

Women with gay eyes,

Resurgent voices, and the noise

Of pedlars showing urgent wares,

Leaves their dark peace unchanged.

They are innocent

Of the street clamor as young children bent

Absorbed over their toys.

The old heads nod;

A parchment-colored hand

Hovers above the intricate dim board.

And patient schemes are woven, where they sit

So still,

And ravelled, and reknit with reverent skill.

And when a point is scored

34



EPHEMERIS
DISTANCE continued

A flickering jest

Brightens their eyes, a solemn beard is raised

A moment, and then sunk on the thin chest.

Heedless as happy children, or maybe

Lovers creating their own solitude,

Or worn philosophers, content to brood

On an intangible reality.

Shut in an ideal universe,

Within their darkened window-frame

They ponder on their moves, rehearse

The old designs,

Two rusty skull-caps bowed

Above an endless game.



35



BANNERS



SMOKE

BECAUSE it is evening,

Because the last light lies

In fading warmth on the housefronts and the grey
street,

Because the night clouds are overcoming the
skies,

The air comes sweet

With the savor of a rare and delicate wine.

Ambiguously I repeat

The vain old pageant s movements, nor resist

The soft demands of eyes.

On a loud corner I may pause to stare

After the massed backs of the moving throng;

Swing to the syncopation of a song;

Listen to the chatter of hurrying feet;

And send delicate smoke into the air,

Regarding the first lamps on the pale thorough
fare.

I snuff the dust mingled with the perfume

Of women of fashion;

Taste night s early breath,

- 3 6-



EPHEMERIS

SMOKE continued

And the city s bloom.

Because life is so barren of passion,

I would sense death.

Beauty passes like smoke on the wind, and delight

Is sharp as the last puff of an exquisite cigarette.

And should I fret because the vulgar night,

With lost emotions and stale poignancies,

Stabs with the chill acuteness of a knife

Offering life?



37



BANNERS



ROMANCE

There are shy woods

Of quickening thin boughs,

Pale jade, alive.

There is a wind,

A tempest and a roar of beaten waters,

Agape with laughing fangs.

There is a darkness,

Tender, terrible.

Gestic, or I remember. . . ?



38



EPHEMERIS



TWO HOKKUS
ANSWER

You ask for a hokku.

Ask for silence, rather.

It is like trying to ride past the sun.

It is like the words of farewell

Before a final parting.

SCREEN PATTERN

The hounding wind

Runs shrieking thru the dark.

From a black cloud

The moon gleams like a tiger

Amber-eyed.



39



BANNERS



SHOWER

From the clear melancholy sky

The rain

Drops in long shaken sheets,

And softly hops on the wide, glistering streets,

And dully flows

Through emptied thoroughfares,

Where a few solitary cabs parade

Like slow defeated ghosts none living knows,

For whom none living cares.

Till lightning quivers and harsh thunder breaks

On startled ears

And wakes

Old wonders and old fears.

The huddled folk

Stare outward at wind-swollen gusts

And the down-driven smoke,

And at the sky,

Defended by complacent surety

Of a near hour when they need not pause

For drenching winds and bolts beyond their laws.

40



EPHEMERIS



"TO AN AMIABLE CHILD"

You were an amiable child.

Not as the other children were,

Petulant, pouting,

You would wear your half-grown wisdom

With an air of humor;

And you laughed less than you smiled.

And you were largely tolerant

Of company and rainy days and common games

you did not want.
You were so still, but radiant
When life was good.
And more than food or play,
Music you loved, and motion and
Beauty you could not understand
In voice and face and golden weather.
Yet sometimes for whole days together
You wore your silence like a shield;
You who could yield
As graciously to death as to your nurse
At bedtime, hopeful of prodigious dreams.
Now here you lie.

41



BANNERS

"TO AN AMIABLE CHILD" continued

But too unmindful of sweet dreams or waking,

For all the birdsongs and the blossoms breaking

Above your grave,

Or wondering strangers making

What tale beseems your faint quaint epitaph.

Now rank sods cover

The dust of lovely limbs, and all the show

Of your beloved ways is strangely over.

Yet there s some comfort in the world to know

That you were dear and fair, and still must be

Remembered so.



42



EPHEMERIS



THE DEATH OF A CHILD

ARE you at ease now,

Do you suck content

From death s dark nipple between your wan lips?

Now that the fever of the day is spent

And anguish slips

From the small limbs,

And they lie lapped in rest,

The young head pillowed soft upon that indurate

breast.

No, you are quiet,
And forever,

Tho for us the silence is so loud with tears,
Wherein we hear the dreadful-footed years
Echoing, but your quick laughter never,
Never your stumbling run, your sudden face
Thrust in bright scorn upon our solemn fears.
Now the dark mother holds you close ; . . . o, you
We loved so,
How you lie,

So strangely still, unmoved so utterly,
Dear yet, but oh a little alien too.

43



BANNERS



SEA-MUSIC

THERE is a place of bitter memories
Dreary and wide and lonely as the sea,
Foaming and moaning; there they come to me
Like wild gulls crying sea-taught monodies ; . . .
Iron-winged hours, heavy, heavy with dread;
Dawn after death; the sound of a shut door;
And shining love that has a withered core ;
The eyes of those who fight and starve for bread.
There is doom, and change, and silence, and deny
ing;

Memories of these pluck at the heart of me.
And over the bitter roar of the old dumb sea
The air is filled with the noise of wild gulls
crying.



44



EPHEMERIS



HARMONICS

I HAVE come here to be free for an hour or two,
To relinquish to a darkness richly lit,
To the silken movement of infiltering crowds,
The music, the noisy thrill of dischords preluding

it

The morning s fret and the night s restless argu
ment.

The quarrelling strings and the dim stage are kind,

Rest is in the curtain s velvet fall.

Lovely indifferent strangers put poverty out of
the mind.

The mutter of traffic is exquisitely drowned

By the low bright liquid swell of belling sound.

I forget . . .

The miles of mud,

The barren world of mud

And fire; pulling at the boots and biting at the
flesh.

The watery world

Of sinking corpses.

The filthy dawns,

45



BANNERS

HARMONICS continued

The flames that crack darkness open and limbs

apart.

The monstrousness of the unthinkable dead,
The unthinkable living.

The estrangement from known face and places,
The going home to a heap of stones ;
The monotonous machinery of hell.
I had forgotten. . . .
The music abruptly stopped,
.Chatter arose and applause. I was aware
Of moving heads, of the close fragrant air,
The flutter of a programme dropped.
I had forgotten the concert-hall
And why I was there.
I passed to the red-lamped exit,
And hearing the newsboys cry
Beckoned.

The pennies jingled; all at once it seemed
Terrible to live,
But curious to die ;
And over the music and under the roar of the

street
The headlines were nothing but print that

screamed.

- 4 6-



EPHEMERIS
HARMONICS continued

There was a sound of war

And of defeat.

I stood there staring at the sunset sky.



SONGS AND SILENCES



SONGS AND SILENCES



SONGS

I WOULD make songs for you:

Of slow suns weighing

Thru pale mist to the river, overlaying

Gold upon silver tissue; or the hush

Of winter twilight when the bushes quiver

Blooming with birds;

Of the easy snow;

Of patient streets, or the theatric glow

Of lamps on crowding faces in the night;

Of sudden gay encounters without words;

Of sorrow quiet in a huddled fight;

Of the release of April winds;

Of death,

That is a stillness without peace,

Like love, wherefor I am so dumb to you,



BANNERS



SILENCE

SILENCE with you is like the faint delicious
Smile of a child asleep, in dreams unguessed:
Only the hinted wonder of its dreaming,
The soft, slow-breathing miracle of rest.
Silence with you is like a kind departure
From iron clangor and the engulfing crowd
Into a wide and greenly barren meadow,
Under the bloom of some blue-bosomed cloud;
Or like one held upon the sands at evening,
When the drawn tide rolls out, and the mixed

light

Of sea and sky enshrouds the far, wind-bellowed
Sails that move darkly on the edge of night.



52



SONGS AND SILENCES



FROM THE FERRY

THE wind blew salty from the bay,
Darkly the river rose,
Lights on the farther shore were pale
As when the first star shows.

Our faces lifted to the night,
The air was like a boon;
We were as close as lovers are,
And alien as the moon.



53-*



BANNERS



WALLS

THE cliffs were terrible. Black flint
Rearing upon the sky;
In futile patterns shadowy boughs
Laced their immensity.

We moved at the dark granite foot;
In our old bantering tone
We talked and laughed. Beside us, truth
Stood with a face of stone.



SONGS AND SILENCES



DAWN

OVER hushed lawns a pale grey arch,
Vague walls took sharper form;
Beyond, the quiet water lay,
Flickering dark and warm.

Farther, the city: clustered lights,
Dimmed where the sky-line glows;
Sleep hovered on the freshened air;
You laughed ... the new sun rose.,



55



BANNERS



CANDLES

JOY lights the candles in my heart
When you come in, until it seems
The racing flames must fill the room
With Marathons of gleams.

The place where we are met is gay
And glowing with the darting rout,
Till going, you swing wide the door,
And blow them out.



-56-



SONGS AND SILENCES



LURES

SWART rusty pine-boughs hold
Thin threads of pallid gold.
At the white high-road s turn
Coppery bushes burn.
The sky is clear and green.
The light is hard and keen.
But sharper, shriller, cries
Jour absent face . . .your eyes..



57



BANNERS



SEA-PIECE

DUNES overthrown by the wind lie prone to the

twilight;
Held in the foam-darkened hollows and softly

moving

Over the pallid sea-marge in slow resurgence
Whispers the ocean.

Threads of foam in the fine sands lingering faintly
Sink as we watch. The touch of the air is colder.
Swift the oncoming clouds. Your lips upon my

lips
Salt with the sea-wind.



58-



SONGS AND SILENCES



PRELIBATION

GHOSTLY scent of boughs that stir in the darkness,
Fresh the fine dark dews, the thick stars distant,
Earth one star that swings in the luminous

heavens:

These are our terror.

Blind and bright, they look upon nameless lovers;
In their light the ravishing years are looming;
You must go from my arms. One will take you,
Death, or estrangement.



59



SONNETS



SONNETS



THE SILVER CHORD

A FROSTY silence, blank as the wide spaces

Of drifted snow, broods on the brilliant air.

Green lakes of ice lie in the white embraces

Of wind-swept meadows, under skies as bare.

Beyond, shrouded in smoky rose, the hills.

A pale, bright sun, enmeshed in sombre boughs,

Threads these with ruddy haze. And quiet fills

The hollows where the shadow-bringers drowse.

Quiet is resonant as some deep bell;

Beauty like music echoes in the brain.

The snow-lit clarity is palpable.

Here is profound appeasement . . . here is pain.

Only the infinite impersonal moves

So poignantly the finite heart that loves.



63-



BANNERS



SIC SEMPER

HUSH broods on the pale fields under the spell
Of the dim sky and its half-hearted stars.
Only the dwindling winds in their soft swell
Stir the dark boughs and their flung shadow-bars.
All hidden lights, all muffled noises seem
To lie beyond the grey horizon s edge.
Here is the timeless silence of a dream,
And we two ghosts who keep a wordless pledge.
But with so small a warning, suddenly
Fragrance swoops down upon us like a storm
That leaves us clutching, clinging humanly;
With your two arms about me, tense and warm.
And the sweet night is hid, as by a wall,
And love, low-voiced, fierce-fingered love is all.



64



SONNETS



SOLITUDE

THERE is the loneliness of peopled places:
Streets roaring with their human flood; the crowd
That fills bright rooms with billowing sounds and

faces,

Like foreign music, overshrill and loud.
There is the loneliness of one who stands
Fronting the waste under the cold sea-light,
A wisp of flesh against the endless sands,
Like a lost gull in solitary flight.
Single is all up-rising and down-lying;
Struggle or fear or silence none may share;
Each is alone in bearing, and in dying;
Conquest is uncompanioned as despair.


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