The Sonnets of Ishtar

Original Text: 
George Cabot Lodge, Poems (1899-1902) (New York: Cameron, Blake, 1902): 93-96. Internet Archive cu31924021763093
I
1I am the world's imperishable desire;
2Life is because I will, for hope of me
3Life is, nor all the dark depths of the sea
4Could quench mine eyes' light nor my body's fire.
5Fresh hyacinth and the violent rose suspire,
6The black clod breaks to green eternally.
7Sap thrills to parturition the naked tree,--
8Of all things living I only cannot tire.
9I am the world's interminable sin;
10Yea! In my power and lust beyond control,
11Things mortal wage the war of life and win.
12For me the slave defies the master's rod.
13And while the antique pride swells within his soul
14The man reclaims his liberty of God!
II
15My face lives always in the quenchless light,
16Frail gold of twilight burns across my breast,
17The red dusk girds me and my limbs are pressed
18In warm, wan shadows deepening down to night.
19My hair, red gold on brows of faultless white,
20Inspires earth's children to my fatal quest;
21Youth's passionate face in mortal hope of rest
22Grows blind against me, wearying of my might.
23With ravenous lips men scourge my lustrous flesh
24And crowd the quivering dusk with nameless sin;
25Death takes them, still insatiate, from my mesh.
26Viewless, my feet pash down the one who dies,
27While, sprung aloft from earth he festers in,
28I watch the last-born laughing in mine eyes!
III
29Once was my name as fire, and once my wine
30Flushed in the veins of youth, and once the strong,
31The wise, the lyric, leaped beneath my thong
32Of love and hailed me human and divine!
33Mine was the world's confessed desire and mine
34The echoing thunder of the seas of song,
35Priests, virgins, youths -- a florid, sumptuous throng --
36Gave me luxurious service at my shrine!
37Now tho', bereft, I seem perchance as one
38Smothered in night whose memory keeps the flush,
39The fire and huge transcendence of the sun,
40Still, in the apostate world, my fight I know
41Is won, and still the lips of manhood crush,
42And still the pained blood throbs thro' limbs of snow!
IV
43For me, the eldest and the loveliest God,
44For me and for my equal happiness
45The woman aches with sweet maternal stress,
46The slow seed breaks beneath the reeking sod.
47For me the strong, swift feet of dawn are shod
48With fire, for me the flowers' frail petals press
49Fearless and faithful, and warm winds caress
50The violet sea-ways where of old I trod.
51For me the long, resounding years return
52With gradual seasons, and the stately sun
53Shepherds thro' void infinity his brood;
54And only thro' my knowledge man may turn,
55To larger consciousness the soul has won.
56Leaving his outworn body for my food.
RPO poem Editors: 
Ian Lancashire
RPO Edition: 
2011
Rhyme: 
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