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In the dark shadow of the windless pines
Whose gloomy glory lines the obsequies
Of the gaunt Claudian Aqueduct along
The lone Campagna to sepulchral Rome,
A Northern youth, companionless, reclined,
Pondering on records of the Roman Past,
Kingdom, Republic, Empire, longwhile gone.
Hard-by, through marble tomb revivified,
Rippled and bubbled water crystalline,
Inwelling from the far-off Sabine hills.
When lo! upon the tomb's deep-dinted rim
Slowly there broadened on his gaze two shapes,
Material embodiment of those
The great Venetian in resplendent hues
Upon the canvas lastingly portrayed,
Christened by fame Profane and Sacred Love.
One was in rich habiliments arrayed,
With dimpling folds about her rounded limbs,
And heaving corset of embossed brocade,
Compressing beaker for her brimming breasts.
Jewels were in her hair, jewels entwined
Themselves round her columnar throat, and thus
On him she gazed unshrinkingly, and seemed
Sensuous seduction irresistible.
The other in nude innocency clad,
All save veined vineleaf cincture round her waist,
Sate with her gaze averted, and beheld
Only her image trembling in the wave.
Her had he fain accosted, but the dread
Of violating her aloofness checked
The movement of his mind, and held him mute.
So to the One resplendently enrobed,
Familiarly fearless as herself,
He turned, albeit his thought was otherwhere,
As elsewhere his desire, and boldly said:
``If with your earthly seeming be conjoined
Gift and capacity of earthly speech,
Speak to me, earthly, an you will, and break
The all too spacious silence with your voice.''
Her curving lips, whose fulness seemed to pledge
Intoxicating kisses, drooped apart,
And to her orbs upsurged volcanic fire,
As she with prompt unhesitating voice,
Commanding more than musical, rejoined.
Whereat that Other ever and anon
Would for a moment turn to him her face,
To note the interpretation of his heart
And wavering of his will, and then once more
Her look averted to the Sabine hills,
And cloudless vault of overarching Heaven.
Profane Love speaks
``I am the Goddess mortals call Profane,
Yet worship me as though I were divine;
Over their lives, unrecognised, I reign,
For all their thoughts are mine.
``I was coeval with the peopled Earth,
And, while it lasts, I likewise shall endure,
For Destiny endowed me at my birth
With every mundane lure.
``Men rear no marble temple to my name,
No statues mould in Minster or in mart,
Yet in their longings silently proclaim
My throne is on their heart.
``Unto the phantom Deities of air
They pay lip homage, carven altars raise,
To these bow down with ceremonial prayer,
And sycophantic praise.
``With them I kneel, but neither praise nor pray,
While tapers burn, hymns float, and organ rolls,
Because I know that there too can I sway
And stupefy their souls.
``Their pompous flatteries are not for me,
My panegyric is the secret sigh:
Wherefore should mortals monuments decree
To Me who cannot die?
``I am the fountain of wealth, titles, power,
'Tis I ordain the pedestal and bust,
When there doth toll the inevitable hour,
The hour of death and dust.
``Ruby, and pearl, and diamond, and the ore
Torn from the entrails of the Earth, are mine;
Mine are the cargoes shipped from shore to shore,
Spices, and silks, and wine:
``Wherewith men buy what crafty barter brings,-
Greater the gain, more hazardous the risks,-
Toil from the many, coronets from Kings,
And lust from odalisques.
``If such content not, since your hopes aspire
On heights of popularity to tower,
I can conduct you on yet swifter tire
To winning-peak of Power.
``Then without scruple, pity, or restraint,
Cleave you your conquering way; for there is nought,
Of all that worldlings crave and hirelings paint,
But can be seized or bought.
``Myriads from mine and furrow, quay and loom,
Shall congregate to hear you pledge and prate,
Hailing you heaven-sent warder-off of gloom,
And Saviour of the State.
``And lissom sirens, temptingly attired,
With heartless hearts, self-seeking as your own,
By your sonorous phrases will be fired,
And gather round your throne.
``Platform and Senate, Cabinet and Court,
You shall cajole, convert, or overawe;
Whithersoe'er you speciously disport,
Your wordy Will be law.
``But many and many a worshipper have I,
So cannot grant monopoly of power:
Others there be who fain would climb as high
As you, and have their
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"Sacred And Profane Love" Poetry.com. STANDS4 LLC, 2022. Web. 25 Jan. 2022. <https://www.poetry.com/poem/784/sacred-and-profane-love>.