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31 Works of Elinor Wylie

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Valentine

Story type: Poetry

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Too high, too high to pluck My heart shall swing. A fruit no bee shall suck, No wasp shall sting. If on some night of cold It falls to ground In apple-leaves of gold I’ll wrap it round. And I shall seal it up With spice and salt, In a carven silver cup, In a […]

Velvet Shoes

Story type: Poetry

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Let us walk in the white snow In a soundless space; With footsteps quiet and slow, At a tranquil pace, Under veils of white lace. I shall go shod in silk, And you in wool, White as a white cow’s milk, More beautiful Than the breast of a gull. We shall walk through the still […]

Spring Pastoral

Story type: Poetry

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Liza, go steep your long white hands In the cool waters of that spring Which bubbles up through shiny sands The color of a wild-dove’s wing. Dabble your hands, and steep them well Until those nails are pearly white Now rosier than a laurel bell; Then come to me at candle-light. Lay your cold hands […]

Alembics turn to stranger things Strange things, but never while we live Shall magic turn this bronze that sings To singing water in a sieve. The trumpeters of Caesar’s guard Salute his rigorous bastions With ordered bruit; the bronze is hard Though there is silver in the bronze. Our mutable tongue is like the sea, […]

The Falcon

Story type: Poetry

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Why should my sleepy heart be taught To whistle mocking-bird replies? This is another bird you’ve caught, Soft-feathered, with a falcon’s eyes. The bird Imagination, That flies so far, that dies so soon; Her wings are colored like the sun, Her breast is colored like the moon. Weave her a chain of silver twist, And […]

Silver Filigree

Story type: Poetry

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The icicles wreathing On trees in festoon Swing, swayed to our breathing: They’re made of the moon. She’s a pale, waxen taper; And these seem to drip Transparent as paper From the flame of her tip. Molten, smoking a little, Into crystal they pass; Falling, freezing, to brittle And delicate glass. Each a sharp-pointed flower, […]

Incantation

Story type: Poetry

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A white well In a black cave; A bright shell In a dark wave. A white rose Black brambles hood; Smooth bright snows In a dark wood. A flung white glove In a dark fight; A white dove On a wild black night. A white door In a dark lane; A bright core To bitter […]

Within my house of patterned horn I sleep in such a bed As men may keep before they’re born And after they are dead. Sticks and stones may break their bones, And words may make them bleed; There is not one of them who owns An armor to his need. Tougher than hide or lozenged […]

A Proud Lady

Story type: Poetry

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Hate in the world’s hand Can carve and set its seal Like the strong blast of sand Which cuts into steel. I have seen how the finger of hate Can mar and mold Faces burned passionate And frozen cold. Sorrowful faces worn As stone with rain, Faces writhing with scorn And sullen with pain. But […]

Nancy

Story type: Poetry

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You are a rose, but set with sharpest spine; You are a pretty bird that pecks at me; You are a little squirrel on a tree, Pelting me with the prickly fruit of the pine; A diamond, torn from a crystal mine, Not like that milky treasure of the sea A smooth, translucent pearl, but […]

Sea Lullaby

Story type: Poetry

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The old moon is tarnished With smoke of the flood, The dead leaves are varnished With color like blood, A treacherous smiler With teeth white as milk, A savage beguiler In sheathings of silk, The sea creeps to pillage, She leaps on her prey; A child of the village Was murdered to-day. She came up […]

Blood Feud

Story type: Poetry

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Once, when my husband was a child, there came To his father’s table, one who called him kin, In sunbleached corduroys paler than his skin. His look was grave and kind; he bore the name Of the dead singer of Senlac, and his smile. Shyly and courteously he smiled and spoke; “I’ve been in the […]

For this you’ve striven Daring, to fail: Your sky is riven Like a tearing veil. For this, you’ve wasted Wings of your youth; Divined, and tasted Bitter springs of truth. From sand unslaked Twisted strong cords, And wandered naked Among trysted swords. There’s a word unspoken, A knot untied. Whatever is broken The earth may […]

Here’s a wonderful thing, A humming-bird’s wing In hammered gold, And store well chosen Of snowflakes frozen In crystal cold. Black onyx cherries And mistletoe berries Of chrysoprase, Jade buds, tight shut, All carven and cut In intricate ways. Here, if you please Are little gilt bees In amber drops Which look like honey, Translucent […]

Escape

Story type: Poetry

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When foxes eat the last gold grape, And the last white antelope is killed, I shall stop fighting and escape Into a little house I’ll build. But first I’ll shrink to fairy size, With a whisper no one understands, Making blind moons of all your eyes, And muddy roads of all your hands. And you […]

All that I dream By day or night Lives in that stream Of lovely light. Here is the earth, And there is the spire; This is my hearth, And that is my fire. From the sun’s dome I am shouted proof That this is my home, And that is my roof. Here is my food, […]

Village Mystery

Story type: Poetry

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The woman in the pointed hood And cloak blue-gray like a pigeon’s wing, Whose orchard climbs to the balsam-wood, Has done a cruel thing. To her back door-step came a ghost, A girl who had been ten years dead, She stood by the granite hitching-post And begged for a piece of bread. Now why should […]

Winter Sleep

Story type: Poetry

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When against earth a wooden heel Clicks as loud as stone and steel, When snow turns flour instead of flakes, And frost bakes clay as fire bakes, When the hard-bitten fields at last Crack like iron flawed in the cast, When the world is wicked and cross and old, I long to be quit of […]

Bells In The Rain

Story type: Poetry

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Sleep falls, with limpid drops of rain, Upon the steep cliffs of the town. Sleep falls; men are at peace again Awhile the small drops fall softly down. The bright drops ring like bells of glass Thinned by the wind, and lightly blown; Sleep cannot fall on peaceful grass So softly as it falls on […]

The Church-Bell

Story type: Poetry

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As I was lying in my bed I heard the church-bell ring; Before one solemn word was said A bird began to sing. I heard a dog begin to bark And a bold crowing cock; The bell, between the cold and dark, Tolled. It was five o’clock. The church-bell tolled, and the bird sang, A […]

The rain’s cold grains are silver-gray Sharp as golden sands, A bell is clanging, people sway Hanging by their hands. Supple hands, or gnarled and stiff, Snatch and catch and grope; That face is yellow-pale, as if The fellow swung from rope. Dull like pebbles, sharp like knives, Glances strike and glare, Fingers tangle, Bluebeard’s […]

Sanctuary

Story type: Poetry

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This is the bricklayer; hear the thud Of his heavy load dumped down on stone. His lustrous bricks are brighter than blood, His smoking mortar whiter than bone. Set each sharp-edged, fire-bitten brick Straight by the plumb-line’s shivering length; Make my marvelous wall so thick Dead nor living may shake its strength. Full as a […]

I saw a Tiger’s golden flank, I saw what food he ate, By a desert spring he drank; The Tiger’s name was Hate. Then I saw a placid Lamb Lying fast asleep; Like a river from its dam Flashed the Tiger’s leap. I saw a Lion tawny-red, Terrible and brave; The Tiger’s leap overhead Broke […]

Atavism

Story type: Poetry

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I always was afraid of Somes’s Pond: Not the little pond, by which the willow stands, Where laughing boys catch alewives in their hands In brown, bright shallows; but the one beyond. There, when the frost makes all the birches burn Yellow as cow-lilies, and the pale sky shines Like a polished shell between black […]

Wild Peaches

Story type: Poetry

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1 When the world turns completely upside down You say we’ll emigrate to the Eastern Shore Aboard a river-boat from Baltimore; We’ll live among wild peach trees, miles from town. You’ll wear a coonskin cap, and I a gown Homespun, dyed butternut’s dark gold color. Lost, like your lotus-eating ancestor, We’ll swim in milk and […]

The Crooked Stick

Story type: Poetry

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First Traveler: What’s that lying in the dust? Second Traveler: A crooked stick. First Traveler: What’s it worth, if you can trust To arithmetic? Second Traveler: Isn’t this a riddle? First Traveler: No, a trick. Second Traveler: It’s worthless. Leave it where it lies. First Traveler: Wait; count ten; Rub a little dust upon your […]

August

Story type: Poetry

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Why should this Negro insolently stride Down the red noonday on such noiseless feet? Piled in his barrow, tawnier than wheat, Lie heaps of smoldering daisies, somber-eyed, Their copper petals shriveled up with pride, Hot with a superfluity of heat, Like a great brazier borne along the street By captive leopards, black and burning pied. […]

Madman’s Song

Story type: Poetry

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Better to see your cheek grown hollow, Better to see your temple worn, Than to forget to follow, follow, After the sound of a silver horn. Better to bind your brow with willow And follow, follow until you die, Than to sleep with your head on a golden pillow, Nor lift it up when the […]

“The Hielan’ lassies are a’ for spinnin’ The Lowlan’ lassies for prinkin’ and pinnin’; My daddie w’u’d chide me, an’ so w’u’d my minnie If I s’u’d bring hame sic a prinkin’ leddie.” Now haud your tongue, ye haverin’ coward, For whilst I’m young I’ll go flounced an’ flowered, In lutestring striped like the strings […]

Avoid the reeking herd, Shun the polluted flock, Live like that stoic bird, The eagle of the rock. The huddled warmth of crowds Begets and fosters hate; He keeps, above the clouds, His cliff inviolate. When flocks are folded warm, And herds to shelter run, He sails above the storm, He stares into the sun. […]

Beauty

Story type: Poetry

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Say not of Beauty she is good, Or aught but beautiful, Or sleek to doves’ wings of the wood Her wild wings of a gull. Call her not wicked; that word’s touch Consumes her like a curse; But love her not too much, too much, For that is even worse. O, she is neither good […]