These curious looms where we have spun our fancies,
These intricate webs where our desires are threaded,
These weird trapezes that our passion frenzies
Strange acrobats to catch them dizzy headed.
These tightening strings upon our spirit’s fiddles
Tuneful or out of tune where music hungers
From writhing bow, these intertwining riddles
Mazes and labyrinths and storms and languors.
These colours twinging on a prism’s edges,
These speckled patterns of fanatic madness
From glittering eyeballs, these unresting dredges
For pearls within the depths of sadness and of gladness—
O tortuous thoughts, what are you seeking after
As flies around a carcass with a humming dreary,
Gibing the silent dead with treacherous laughter,
Molesting quietness and waking up the weary!
What then, what then, can sleep not crush you to forgetting
With all her body’s beauty, cannot peace submerge you
O wrangling, juggling, jangling, pirouetting—
What hope can drag you from the small desires that urge you?
You have lassoed the moon and trapped the sun’s bright lion,
And trodden out the red stars into ashes,
Destroyed night’s temple and broken the pillars of iron,
And striped the snowy horses of the clouds with zebra gashes …
You have debauched the world! And as I sit here weary,
Deafened with your demands and torn in tatters,
The world seems suddenly most passionless and dreary,
A poor bewildered clown—and nothing matters.
From Poems, Iris Tree (1920)