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Herbert Sherman Gorman.

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THE BARCAROLE OF
JAMES SMITH

A VOLUME OF POEMS



BY

HERBERT S. GORMAN



G. P. PUTNAM'S SONS
NEW YORK AND LONDON

Gbe iknicfcerbocfcer press

1922



Copyright, 1922

by
Herbert S. Gorman



Made in the United States of America




Acknowledgments and thanks are due The
Outlook, The Freeman, The Poetry Journal, The
Literary Review, The Sun "Books and the Book
World," The Sun, The New York Evening Post
and The Boston Evening Transcript for printing
a number of these poems. Several of them
appeared in a pamphlet entitled The Fool of
Love, now out of print.



CONTENTS

PAGE

CANDACE ...... 3

THE MELODY OF PATRICK MURPHY . 5
EINSTEIN PRACTICES .... 8

THE HISTORY OF EGYPT ... 9
IACCHOS . . . . . .10

THE MANDRAKE ROOT . . . .11

THE INTOLERABLE PROCESSION . . 13
To A FALSE FRIEND . . . -15

MYCERINUS 16

THE WARNING 18

ROSES 20

LlLITH, LlLITH 21

RAINY NIGHT ..... 22

THE PAPER ROSE 24

LESE MAJESTE ..... 26



CONTENTS

PAGE

THE BURNING BUSH .... 27

BRIEF OUTLINE 30

"LOOK HERE, UPON THIS PICTURE " .32

JEAN . . 34

NINON PLUCKS THE LAST ROSE . . 35

LOVE'S FANATIC 47

"O PASSIONLESS AND PALE" ... 49

THE LAST SUNSET .... 50

THE WHITE BEAST .... 52

THE WHITE BONES OF THIS LADY . . 53

THE SON OF DAWN .... 54

THE BARCAROLE OF JAMES SMITH . . 82

INTERMEZZO BETWEEN TWO GRIEFS . 85

MORGAN SULKS 89

PALE HANDS 90

INDIFFERENCE 91

THE LAST FIRE ..... 93

GREEN BANKS 95

THE DARK OCEAN OF LOVE ... 96
vi



CONTENTS



PAGE



KALEIDOSCOPE : SUBWAY HOUR . . 99

MIDNIGHT 100

SICK DAYS 102

THE FATALIST 103

THE LOCKED DOOR .... 104

THE RIDERS 105

NIGHTMARE 106

IN THE DARK, IN THE NIGHT . . .108
THE LONELY CABIN . . . .109

JEWELS in

AFTER LOVE 113

MASTERBROOK 114

THE SATYRS AND THE MOON . . .116
THE DESERTED HOUSE . . . .118
Two SONNETS AT CORNWALL . . .120
To MY WIFE, JEAN . . . .122



vn



THE BARCAROLE OF
JAMES SMITH



CANDACE

IN Ethiopia the sun

Shines forever. Cinnamon
And aromatics spice the air,
And Candace is black and rare.

The Troglodytes in caverns dwell ;
The Macrobii with long years swell ;
The Ichthyophagi eat fish ;
But Candace is all my wish.

Bring ivory and scented myrrh

To lay before the feet of her

Who, carved of black basalt and Night,

Shall find in me a neophyte.

These women whiter than the sun
Are pale with ardors left undone;
3



THE BARCAROLE OF JAMES SMITH

Their veins are filled with snow and ice
And timidly they ponder twice.

But Candace, but Candace

Has blood as black as ebony

That roars through veins that ache and

yearn
And for her sultry breasts I burn.

The morning bursts in twisted fire
Before the birth of my desire,
But noonday heat brings back to me
The swarthy limbs of Candace.

Heap sandalwood upon the flame
And smite the cymbals at her name
And beat the drums while blood throbs free
For Candace, for Candace.



THE MELODY OF PATRICK MURPHY

T^HE twilight lopes along the street,

A lithe grey beast with padded feet
That make no sound. . . . A slow moon slips
Above dark trees, and starshine drips
About the worn and splintered stoop
Where Patrick Murphy sits, adroop
With sweaty labor. . . . Patrick sees
The Night and shapes his melodies.

"A million stars have fallen down

Upon the Babylonian waste,
And guttered moons have scorched the
crown

Of Janus' hill, the double-faced.

"And masons, such a brown-limbed rabble,
Have builded shafts beyond compare



THE BARCAROLE OF JAMES SMITH

From Taj Mahal to ancient Babel
And Ninus' Hanging Gardens rare.

"But all their building is a dream

And all those masons long ago
Have rotted : they went out like steam

Or frosty air or melting snow.

"And all the bricks that I have laid
The Great House Wrecker lists upon

His Domesday Book. ... A sorry trade,
As insubstantial as the dawn.

"So build no more, say I, with bricks:
They vanish, but the twilight stays,

And twilight has a million tricks
That will outlast my building days.

"Come, smoke of twilight, to my hand:
I'll shape you to a dusky dome,

A place where all the gods may stand,
Outlasting Nineveh and Rome.

"My back is broken with the weight
Of trowelling these wretched houses,
6



THE MELODY OF PATRICK MURPHY

So let me build a mansion great

Where nothing but the wind carouses.

"The moon shall hang above the door
To glow on subterranean nights,

And all the stars flash on the floor
Like glittering electric lights/'

Now Night, the black behemoth, goes
With lurching stagger through the rows
Of dark astonished houses stunned
To sickly trances, moribund
With rotten shibboleths, denials
And compromises and vain trials.
And Patrick Murphy seems to hear
New voices as he drinks his beer,
And, after Night's abysmal span,
Awaits the white Leviathan
Of nascent day that swims along
To his uncomprehended song.



EINSTEIN PRACTICES

pINSTEIN on the violin

Drew long notes with quivering zeal.
The music, rising sharp and thin,
Caught him taut from wrist to heel.

Einstein carved a commonplace
Upon the Night's black ivory

And lifted up his rabbit-face
To smirk upon the mockery.

Einstein's bow obeyed the wrist

And Einstein loomed for all to know,

When, with uncomprehended twist,
The wrist turned victim to the bow.

And Einstein in a lonely place

Ran like a rabbit out and in,
Surprise upon his meager face,

And hatred for his violin.
8



THE HISTORY OF EGYPT

DALD-HEADED Egyptians with chin-

beards that thrust

At rakish angles made slaves eat the dust,
Lashed their backs in quarries of hard stone,
Tore dark flesh and sweetened their pride

with bone.

The Pyramids, the Sphinx rose in the air,
And Cheops is buried under the painted

stair

Somewhere, somewhere;
And now the dream of the slave is one with

Time;
He strolls with Sphinxes and Hawks through

beds of lime;

With Berenice he loiters, laughs and lingers,
While Pyramids shine like jewels on horny

fingers.

9



IACCHOS

I^VARK figure of lacchos

Sprawled across the sill of the Night,
Stertorous breathing, gigantic limbs in

throes
Of nightmare. The moon shines white

And spatters with silver flakes the heavy
loins.

Dark blood in the veins that thunder;
Night with day in ecstasy joins

And Time stands still with wonder.

Time stands still and observes the body ;
The winds like hounds worry the skirts of

Night. . .
Morning breaks, and chambermaids clad in

shoddy

Dresses air the sheets in the broad daylight.
10



THE MANDRAKE ROOT

'T'HE mandrake root ! Your face is grey as

iron ;
Your eyes are chilled with something dead

and bleak ;
You have the pride in sorrow that Lord

Byron
Enchanted London with. And for a week

You've fumbled through the leaves and

touched the quick

Of this despairing plant and felt it crack
Between your nervous fingers. Are you

sick?
For mandrakes are an aphrodisiac.

O, come. This will not do. The feeble

note

You play is like a drop within a cup
ii



THE BARCAROLE OF JAMES SMITH

No louder than the pulses in your throat
That bid you now to pull this damned
thing up.

One root is in your heart ; the other, in
The heart you filled and emptied with a
curse. . . .

A sturdy pull and everything that's been
Will merely echo that it might be worse.

The mandrake root ! O pull it up forever
And flings its bleeding leaves upon the

ground,

And understand that Time is like a river
That washes hollow wounds without a
sound.



12



THE INTOLERABLE PROCESSION

PROCESSION of pall-bearers carry the

body
With measured steps from his heart to his

brain.
Through the rivers of blood he hears them

marching
To an old refrain.

Slow and indefinite thunder of footsteps
From six naked bearers who carry the body
High on their shoulders. The bter is

stained
And dripping and bloody.

All night as he lies with his eyes staked

open

And torn apart by the chains of thought,
13



THE BARCAROLE OF JAMES SMITH

The steady thud of the feet come toward

him
Till he has no doubt.

The swaying bier and the white still body
Are borne in the night from his heart to his

brain,

With the horrible even sound of footsteps
Beating an old refrain.



TO A FALSE FRIEND

DECAUSE the steel was brittle
And snapt before the thrust,
And something fine, grown little,

Resolved itself to dust,
We have no mode of greeting,

No pleasure to afford,
Who see between our meeting

A silence like a sword.

We cannot count the measure

Of secret suicide
And Time will have no leisure

To tell which of us died
When with your twisted laughter

You struck beneath a cloak
And silence followed after

And no one living spoke.
15



M



MYCERINUS

YCERINUS held the key
To modern mutability.



With torches spouting ruddy flame
He held the Night beyond the door,

And all the day he hunted game,
The yellow lion and the boar.

The dark fell down upon his roof
And shouted at the iron gate,

But Mycerinus held aloof
And drained an empty glass to Fate.

Six years of life had he to live;

He turned the night to day with fire
And doubled Time, a fugitive

Who dodged the shadow of desire.
16



MYCERINUS

And Night and Day the torch and hunt
Held wide the hollow eyes to life

That Mycerinus might confront
Auspiciously the threatened knife.



THE WARNING

\V 7HERE is that music ? Run through the

long grass now
With delicate white feet and I will follow

you,
Listening to music. You have taught me

how.

What is colder against your feet than the

dew?
Little icy fingers like needles pricking

in;
And if you stand too long your flesh will turn

blue.

We will go back before that music so thin
Stops its vague delirium. Step, and hold

your breath

While cold little fingers tap your fragile skin.
18



THE WARNING

Here is the door. I beg for the twentieth
Time that you come. The music plays.

It will not stop,
And the icy fingers of dew are like death.

See, you are shivering now. You are like
to drop.



ROSES

X TOW close your great white eyelids. . .
^ Do not let

Your heart be troubled by this icy wind
That blows against you bitter with the fret

Of dying roses, roses torn and thinned.

What have you now to do with roses ? See,
The day is tarnished and the dark wings

fall.
Forget the roses and their mystery :

Remember only that you plucked them
all.



20



LILITH, LILITH

ILITH, Lilith wept for the moon:

Its icy beauty troubled her sleep,
Stirred and thrilled her breast with a tune
Of crystal notes that fluttered the deep.
Climbing up the tower of light,

She sought the sound and followed the

flame:

Cold as snow, implacably white,
The moon spun high and muttered her
name.

White as Adam's body of yore

And like that flesh she never could thrill,
Far and pale as Paradise door,

The vision flooded meadow and hill. . . .
She, the flame, the passionate flower,

Awoke and cried for waking so soon. . . .
In a glimmering scented sleepless bower,

Lilith, Lilith wept for the moon.

21



RAINY NIGHT

JV/IIDNIGHT falls: the rain spins through

** the streets:
Desolate arc-lights stare like the eyes of

fishes
Seen through walls of glass, and the cold wind

slaps
Heavily, like a wet rag, against our faces.

A long procession of dark umbrellas lumber
Up the Avenue like a string of turtles. . . .
Automobiles bark like husky dogs
As they whirr along through pools of watery
jewels.

Where shall we walk now, you with the
Trojan eyes?

You with the desolate face from the rain-
soaked plains

22



RAINY NIGHT

About Skamander, where shall we turn in the

dark?

Heavily shouts the wind like the sullen voices
Of rushing spearmen: heavily sound the

shields
Smitten together across the night with a noise

like thunder.

We two, here.

Spun along with the wind and the rain

together,
Where are the tall bleak Trojan towers of our

dream?

Midnight falls :

We whirl and whirl with the rain :
We change and change with the wind and
the slow bell tolls. . . .

You with the Trojan eyes,

How the towers rush down upon us. ...

How the world is blown like a mist through

our dream,
Blown through the flaming white feet of the

terrible rain.

23



THE PAPER ROSE

T^HE building sag to right and left

And shake upon the wires of Time
Their sceneries. Bereft

Of reason I observe the chime

Of bells that ring the slow hours out.

The sun goes walking down the street
With slothful steps. A doubt

Of sun and moon and stars complete

Is like a crawling snake within
The hollow cavern of my mind.

The daylight blows so thin

That soul and eyes are almost blind.

The tattered world begins to fade
And puppets oozing sawdust strut

With painted mouths. Afraid
I walk and keep my eyelids shut.
24



THE PAPER ROSE

The world swings like a tarnished rose
Of paper drooping from the hand

Of some mad child who goes

By roads he does not understand.

In what sad marsh where lizards crawl
Will his indifferent feet sink down,

Till child and rose and all

In pismires suffocate and drown?



LESE MAJESTE

'T'HE idle chatter, rising like a fountain
In slender gushes, sinks in silver mist
Upon white shoulders. Higgins, from his

mountain
Of watchful inattention, seems to list.

Colossus of wise butlers, for a minute

He sways in clouds of conversation, turns
His face against small flocks of words, and in

it

I catch a lightning flash that twists and
burns.

Now imperturbable he sees the lady

Depart in warm chinchilla, thinks of her

As something set apart and is afraid he
Might comprehend her motor's feline purr.
26



THE BURNING BUSH

I TE talks of kings and in his eyes at times

I catch parading banners tossing by
He puts to rout my gathering cloud of

rhymes

By smiling suddenly and lifting high
His weather-beaten forehead to the sky.
With speculative twists he throws the ball

Of chatter with agility most spry
And keeps the thread, nor loses it at all.

His face is like old oak the sun has burned

To mellow beauty, and his eye is such
That if it suddenly on me is turned

I am aware of things that matter much
In analysing why the common touch
Of sight to sight means more than words may
say,

27



THE BARCAROLE OF JAMES SMITH

And why the earth may sometimes seem a

smutch
Of soot upon the lintel of the day.

He grows in greatness to his words and I
Diminish in their magic to an ear

Existing solely for the thoughts that fly
In colored ardency from him so near
And I so far, thoughts longer than a
year

With wisdom heaped on wisdom, yet they

pass
As swiftly as a half -unconscious tear

Dropped suddenly upon a heated glass.

He hitches up his one suspender, chews

Tobacco with a ruminating air,
Dissects with equanimity the news

Of warring nations, with a word lays bare
The white nerve-centers of some great

affair

And solves the riddle that a statesman
died

28



THE BURNING BUSH

To find the key to, turns a knowing

stare
Upon humanity and once he sighed.

He sits upon this battered hulk, the earth,

And plays with theory as men with dice.
He knows the nations from their feeble birth

In prehistoric fields of sliding ice.

Through age and age he traces each

device
That man perfected for the sake of Man,

And has no need to brood upon them twice,
But places each within its proper plan.

Incompetent he may be for a world

Too eager of delight to know a seer
Who reads the heavens as a sign unfurled
And finds philosophy a spinning drear.
But there are times I feel that gods are

near
And through the windows of his eyes a

light,

Auspicious, awful and divinely clear,
Glows like the burning bush across the night.
29



BRIEF OUTLINE

II IS eyes were hollow moons burnt out and

dead,

White distances that seemed to tilt and reel

Through skies forgotten, and his daily meal

Was dim extinguished things that men had

said

Before the world fell in upon his head.
He could not ever hope to gravely deal
With common things upon which Time's

dark seal
Hung heavy with the soulessness of lead.

And if at times his thoughts would wander

far

Beyond the tight embraces of his glen
Be very sure he called them home in
fright.

30



BRIEF OUTLINE

His background was the memory of a star
Seen once by him but cloaked to other men
In something that their weakness called
the night.



"LOOK HERE, UPON THIS PICTURE"
For Elinor Wylie

WOUR'S is a delicate hunger
* For delicate things ;
You are a glittering monger
Of glittering rings.

You would be happy in Hellas

And violet-crowned,
Cold, with an art to compel us

To bow to the ground.

You would be ice to the many

And fire to the few,
Innocent, adamant, canny,

Unfaithful and true.

Palaces, chariots, battle
Would leave you unstirred ;

Wonder would start at the rattle
Some infant had whirred.
32



"LOOK HERE, UPON THIS PICTURE'

You would escape to a mountain

That shone in a bay,
Fashioning songs by a fountain

And dreaming all day.

You would be hard as the agate

That glows in your verse,
Ready to stand on the fagot,

A martyr perverse.

You would be sudden and tender

And weep for a while
Stirred by a daffodil slender

And hurt by a smile.

You are a shield that is broken,

A spear that is split,
A hunger, a pride that has spoken

And sorry for it.

Your's is a cloak of white magic

That covers a child
Proudly defiant, half -tragic

And always half -wild.

3 33



JEAN

THROUGH you have air and sunlight and
* the gift
Of glowing moons and stars in skies that

sorrow

Has never travelled over, still regret
Enfolds you in his delicate grey net,
And over all the world your eyelids lift
Expectant to horizons of tomorrow.



34



NINON PLUCKS THE LAST ROSE

WHEN Lais turned her face against the
wind

For that last time she let the mirror fall
From hands grown cold with terror, having

seen
That Time's disastrous feet had tracked

strange journeys
Upon her snow.

That red and white that was Love's history
Grew dumb and featureless and like the

moon,

A cold and sinister betrayal. Fright,
That whelmed the once-so-perfect eyes and

mouth,

Sucked all the face within and disappeared
On noiseless feet with hope. She did not

stir

35



THE BARCAROLE OF JAMES SMITH

When loudly on the tessellated floor

The mirror crashed, its fragments darting

up
Like angry sparks of fire. She did not

stir,
But watched the twilight with reluctant

feet
And stealthy movements creep across the

room.

And all this took a moment, took the time
It takes a rose to fall upon the ground.
And in that moment all her years flashed

by
Like water rushing through a weir; then

darkness,
And silence, and the ending of all songs.

And that's the ending of the tale, Dorine,

And the beginning of another story

That was not quite the same. No story

ends

But it begins another for no thing
Is ever finished and our joy and grief
36



NINON PLUCKS THE LAST ROSE

Are ineluctably bound up in that.
Time only puts one period to tales
And that is generally carved in stone.

Frangois, my shawl. Dorine, well walk a

while

Between the rose-bushes and let the wind
Blow amorously on your eyelids. See !
A petal in your hair ! In mine the snows
Of all the faded roses in the world
Begin to settle. . . . And I smile, you see;
But sadly, somewhat. . . . somewhat sadly,

yes. . . .

You see my roses whiter than the bosom
That once above them trembled, redder

than

The lips that laughed at Time but yesterday
And yet in this young twilight are so grave.
And all those roses are gone now, they say.
These are new roses, yet they look the

same;

They carry on the tale. And Beauty goes;
It goes forever and it stays forever,
37



THE BARCAROLE OF JAMES SMITH

But not the same. How Molidre would

laugh

To catch his Ninon a philosopher !
He'd look so gravely at me, purse his lips,
Assault me with the name Anaximander,
And beg my views on Plato having witnessed
I led a circumspect Platonic life.
The rogue! And yet behind his laughter

lay

The tragedy of all eternal puppets
Who pull against the wires and pull in vain.
Poor Moliere ! So tragic and so tired
And so betrayed! Scarron was better

play. . . .

Scarron or Fontenelle. . . . Ah, I remember,
And when a woman starts remembering
The snows of Time are falling heavily.
They hiss about me in the air unseen,
Cold flakes that bite my face and arms and

bosom.

The cloak of Beauty wears a little thin;
I am uncovered somewhat. Dorine, turn
Your eyes away and look upon the roses
38



NINON PLUCKS THE LAST ROSE

Nor heed the sentimentalizing strain
Of one quite old enough for better sense.
Ah, roses, roses! They are lamps for you;
They burn like tiny torches in the dimness
Of all this green. My lutist, do you follow?
Then play me some quaint air by Raimon

Lully
With many pauses where faint notes

descend

Like petals on a windless summer day. . . .
My summer day is windless now; it blows
No longer to the Isle of Heart's Desire.

Dear child, I had a hungry thought of you
When your bright face and clear, untroubled

eyes
Were toward me then. Forgive me, but I

thought

If I could tear her beauty with my nails
I should be somewhat eased. Ah, do not

start. . . .
The thought was madness. See, it is quite

gone.

39



THE BARCAROLE OF JAMES SMITH

The tiger in the blood snarls only once

When women look upon the face of Time.

In that disastrous mirror they behold

The shadow of the great finality.

I would not harm you, you nor anyone.

And even if I did I should not change ;

I should be quite the same. . . or nearly

so.
Your pink and white is yours and shall be

stolen

By grimmer hands than mine will ever be,
Although, God knows, my palms are hot with

wishing.

What is he playing now, my long-faced
lutist?

Oh rose, depart, depart;
The summer of the heart
Waits not upon the rose
But with the first frost goes.
He'll bury me before my blood is cold.
I have a chilling tragic vein. . . . The twi-
light

Is medicine to this. ... I wonder now
40



NINON PLUCKS THE LAST ROSE

If twilight is not after all the best
For broken beauty. . . . Shadows are so
gracious. . . .

If I could tell you all my dates and facts,
Mistakes, imbroglios, and silly triumphs
It would not aid you in the years you walk
The yet unmeasured road to what will be.
We go our way and Fate provides the

issue.
I have been lauded; men have been my

gnats,

My buzzing servitors that served them-
selves
At heart, and Time has found me smiling

back

In gentle irony at comprehending
The chilled hypocrisy of lustful hearts.
These silken shapes called men are known to

me,

Infinitesimal tadpoles of Time
Who flutter tiny fins and feel themselves
Portentous frogs. And all success is this:



THE BARCAROLE OF JAMES SMITH

To make them think you know them for great

frogs.

These impecunious inheritors
Of newly minted days that strangely bear
The old eternal fading stamp of Time,
Are children, cruel children, in their

hearts.
They will tear up your dream without a

word
And stamp upon your heart with muddy

feet.

I know it all so well. Do you not think
That I have conned the lesson set for me ?
My salon was a gesture made by wit
Against a dull and oxlike world. I sought
The glittering creators of my time,
Sought Moliere, Scarron and Fontenelle,
St. Evremonde, La Rochefoucauld. . . .

They came. . . .
And all those hours of talk have gone for

nothing.

Scarron would read romances, always listen
To sage advice from me because he loved
42



NINON PLUCKS THE LAST ROSE

The swaying of my throat whenas I talked.
And it was so with others. All would

come,

Not for the intellect but for the woman.
And if I thought this poem was ill-made,
Or brought suggestions to that dialog,
Why, they would smile and cry, "Ninon is

witty !"

"Ninon, Ninon, Ninon!" and all the time
I wanted so to give them of my brain,
To cry, "I understand," to talk of life,
Philosophy and letters, not of love.
I ached to match my brain against their

brains

Not in the idle game of fleeting wit
But in the great essential things of life.
They would not let me think ! They would

not let

Me be another thing but what I was
In their diseased malicious fancies. No !
I was Ninon the courtesan of Paris,
The new Aspasia of contemptuous Time !
And so they forced me down into the mould
43



THE BARCAROLE OF JAMES SMITH

That cold malignant Beauty shaped for me,

And as they saw me so I am today.

The gold is tarnished and the colors

faded. . . .

I tell you now that Beauty is a curse,
That if I had my days to live again


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