Velvet soft the night-star glowed Over the untrodden road, Through the giant glades of yew Where its ray fell light as dew Lighting up the shimmering veil Maiden pure and aery frail That the spiders wove to hide Blushes of the sylvan bride Earth, that trembled with delight At the male caress of Night.
Velvet soft the wizard trod To the Sabbath of his God. With his naked feet he made Starry blossoms in the glade, Softly, softly, as he went To the sombre sacrament, Stealthy stepping to the tryst In his gown of amethyst.
Earlier yet his soul had come To the Hill of Martyrdom, Where the charred and crooked stake Like a black envenomed snake By the hangman's hands is thrust Through the wet and writhing dust, Never black and never dried Heart's blood of a suicide.
He had plucked the hazel rod From the rude and goatish god, Even as the curved moon's waning ray Stolen from the King of Day. He had learnt the elvish sign; Given the Token of the Nine: Once to rave, and once to revel, Once to bow before the devil, Once to swing the thurible, Once to kiss the goat of hell, Once to dance the aspen spring, Once to croak, and once to sing, Once to oil the savoury thighs Of the witch with sea-green eyes With the unguents magical. Oh the honey and the gall Of that black enchanter's lips As he croons to the eclipse Mingling that most puissant spell Of the giant gods of hell With the four ingredients Of the evil elements; Ambergris from golden spar, Musk of ox from Mongol jar, Civet from a box of jade, Mixed with fat of many a maid Slain by the inchauntments cold Of the witches wild and old.
He had crucified a toad In the basilisk abode, Muttering the Runes averse Mad with many a mocking curse.
He had traced the serpent sigil In his ghastly virgin vigil. Sursum cor! the elfin hill, Where the wind blows deadly chill From the world that wails beneath Death's black throat and lipless teeth. There he had stood - his bosom bare - Tracing Life upon the Air With the crook and with the flail Lashing forward on the gale, Till its blade that wavereth Like the flickering of Death Sank before his subtle fence To the starless sea of sense.
Now at last the man is come Haply to his halidom. Surely as he waves his rod In a circle on the sod Springs the emerald chaste and clean From the duller paler green. Surely in the circle millions Of immaculate pavilions Flash upon the trembling turf Like the sea-stars in the surf - Millions of bejewelled tents For the warrior sacraments. Vaster, vaster, vaster, vaster, Grows the stature of the master; All the ringed encampment vies With the infinite galaxies. In the midst a cubic stone With the Devil set thereon; Hath a lamb's virginal throat; Hath the body of a stoat; Hath the buttocks of a goat; Hath the sanguine face and rod Of a goddess and a god!
Spell by spell and pace by pace! Mystic flashes swing and trace Velvet soft the sigils stepped By the silver-starred adept. Back and front, and to and fro, Soul and body sway and flow In vertiginous caresses To imponderable recesses, Till at last the spell is woven, And the faery veil is cloven That was Sequence, Space, and Stress Of the soul-sick consciousness.
"Give thy body to the beasts! Give thy spirit to the priests! Break in twain the hazel rod On the virgin lips of God! Tear the Rosy Cross asunder! Shatter the black bolt of thunder! Suck the swart ensanguine kiss Of the resolute abyss!" Wonder-weft the wizard heard This intolerable word. Smote the blasting hazel rod On the scarlet lips of God; Trampled Cross and rosy core; Brake the thunder-tool of Thor; Meek and holy acolyte Of the priestly hells of spite, Sleek and shameless catamite Of the beasts that prowl the night!
Like a star that streams from heaven Through the virgin airs light-riven, From the lift there shot and fell An admirable miracle. Carved minute and clean, a key Of purest lapis-lazuli More blue than the blind sky that aches (Wreathed with the stars, her torturing snakes), For the dead god's kiss that never wakes; Shot with golden specks of fire Like a virgin with desire. Look, the levers! fern-frail fronds Of fantastic diamonds, Glimmering with ethereal azure In each exquisite embrasure. On the shaft the letters laced, As if dryads lunar-chaste With the satyrs were embraced, Spelled the secret of the key: Sic pervenias. And he Went his wizard way, inweaving Dreams of things beyond believing.
When he will, the weary world Of the senses closely curled Like a serpent round his heart Shakes herself and stands apart. So the heart's blood flames, expanding, Strenuous, urgent, and commanding; And the key unlocks the door Where his love lives evermore.
She is of the faery blood; All smaragdine flows its flood. Glowing in the amber sky To ensorcelled porphyry She hath eyes of glittering flake Like a cold grey water-snake. She hath naked breasts of amber Jetting wine in her bed-chamber, Whereof whoso stoops and drinks Rees the riddle of the Sphinx.
She hath naked limbs of amber Whereupon her children clamber. She hath five navels rosy-red From the five wounds of God that bled; Each wound that mothered her still bleeding, And on that blood her babes are feeding. Oh! like a rose-winged pelican She hath bred blessed babes to Pan! Oh! like a lion-hued nightingale She hath torn her breast on thorns to avail The barren rose-tree to renew Her life with that disastrous dew, Building the rose o' the world alight With music out of the pale moonlight! O She is like the river of blood That broke from the lips of the bastard god, When he saw the sacred mother smile On the ibis that flew up the foam of Nile Bearing the limbs unblessed, unborn, That the lurking beast of Nile had torn!
So (for the world is weary) I These dreadful souls of sense lay by. I sacrifice these impure shoon To the cold ray of the waning moon. I take the forked hazel staff, And the rose of no terrene graff, And the lamp of no olive oil With heart's blood that alone may boil. With naked breast and feet unshod I follow the wizard way to God.
Wherever he leads my foot shall follow; Over the height, into the hollow, Up to the caves of pure cold breath, Down to the deeps of foul hot death, Across the seas, through the fires, Past the palace of desires; Where he will, whether he will or no, If I go, I care not whither I go.
For in me is the taint of the faery blood. Fast, fast its emerald flood Leaps within me, violent rude Like a bestial faun's beatitude. In me the faery blood runs hard: My sires were a druid, a devil, a bard, A beast, a wizard, a snake and a satyr; For - as my mother said - what does it matter? She was a fay, pure of the faery; Queen Morgan's daughter by an aery Demon that came to Orkney once To pay the Beetle his orisons.
So, it is I that writhe with the twitch Of the faery blood, and the wizard itch To attain a matter one may not utter Rather than sink in the greasy splutter Of Britons munching their bread and butter; Ailing boys and coarse-grained girls Grown to sloppy women and brutal churls. So, I am off with staff in hand To the endless light of the nameless land.
Darkness spreads its sombre streams, Blotting out the elfin dreams. I might haply be afraid, Were it not the Feather-maid Leads me softly by the hand, Whispers me to understand. Now (when through the world of weeping Light at last starrily creeping Steals upon my babe-new sight, Light - O light that is not light!) On my mouth the lips of her Like a stone on my sepulchre Seal my speech with ecstasy, Till a babe is born of me That is silent more than I; For its inarticulate cry Hushes as its mouth is pressed To the pearl, her honey breast; While its breath divinely ripples The rose-petals of her nipples, And the jetted milk he laps From the soft delicious paps, Sweeter than the bee-sweet showers In the chalice of the flowers, More intoxicating than All the purple grapes of Pan.
Ah! my proper lips are stilled. Only, all the world is filled With the Echo, that drips over Like the honey from the clover. Passion, penitence, and pain Seek their mother's womb again, And are born the triple treasure, Peace and purity and pleasure.
- Hush, my child, and come aloft Where the stars are velvet soft!