Spells To Win At Ballet

The scene is an ancient Egyptian temple, supported by two mighty pillars. Two rows of marble seats form a semicircle, cut by a gap covered by a veil in the East. On the upper seats are the musicians, flutes and violins; on the lower are singers and dancers. There are doors also at the North and South.

The Prophet. Lead me to the holy place! Trace the circle widdershins!

Light the incense! Set the pace To the flutes and violins!

The Musicians. Kill! kill! Life is shrill!

Still! Still! word and will!

Flame! flame! speak the name!

Trill! trill! Thrill! thrill!

I acclaim the shame!

I have heard the word!

Fulfil the will!

The Prophet. Bid the virgins veil the bride! Lead her forth, a shower of spray,

A flower of foam upon the tide, A fleece of cloud upon the day!

So my sightless eyes may see

In the transcendental trance The virgin of eternity

Lead the demi-gods to dance.

Has the Tree of Life its root In the soul or in the skin? Is it God, or is it brute,

That comes mystically in For the doves within the flute, The eagles on the violin?

Ah! The perfume's coiling tresses

Curl like veils upon the limbs Of the dancer that caresses

With her flying feet the hymns That flow and ripple in the air, Bathing all the doves of prayer!

The Musicians. Lingering, low, fingering slow, The tingling bows of the violins go. Trembling, twittering, dissembling, The lips of the flute-players wander Over the stops, fiercer and fonder Than scorpions that writhe and curl In the fiery breast of an Arab girl!

[The dancers issue from beyond the veil.

The Prophet. Sway like the lilies, gentle girls! Like lilies glimmer! Furl yourselves as the lily furls

Its radiance dimmer! Curl as the lily-petal curls, Subtler and slimmer!

Unfold your ranks and waft yourselves apart, That I may guess what pearl is at the heart, What dew-drop glistens on the crown gold-wrought Within the chalice of your coiled cohort!

The Musicians. The flutes coo. It is the voice Of love in spring, At dawn, in dew; And piercing through Those low loves that rejoice, Wails in the violin that supreme string Of passion, that is more akin To death than love, that shrieking sin Whose teeth tear passion's tortured skin And drink love's blood, and rage within Black bowels of lust to win, to win Some crown of thorns incarnadine, Some cross whereof to fashion Some newer, truer passion Than even the agony of the violin!

The Prophet. Yes! like a careless breeze, the close caress Expands with a sob; the virgins wheel; there glows

In the midst a mystical rose!

[The dancers unfold, and their Queen appears.

O musical ministress Of the dancing violin! In an emerald spangled skin, Hooded with harvest hair Close-coiled, her serpent eyes Hold ineffable sorceries! Slender, and full, and straight is she As an almond tree

Blest by an hermit! Her serpent eyes

Hold ineffable sorceries!

Slow she sways; her white arms ripple

From rosy finger to rosy nipple,

Ripple and flow like the melody

Of the flutes and the violins.

The heart of a million sins,

Each keener than death! Her serpent eyes

Hold ineffable sorceries.

The Musicians. Hush! Hush! the young feet flush, The marble's ablush. The music moves trilling, Like wolves at the killing, Moaning and shrilling,

And clear as the throb in the throat of a thrush! Rustling they sway Like a forest of rush In the storm, and away!

Away! Blow the blossoms

Of virgin bosoms

On the sob of the wind

Of the violins,

That bind and unbind

Their scarlet sins

On the brows of the world.

Hush! they are curled

In the rapture of reaping

The flowers that unfurled

When the gardeners were sleeping

In the breeze-swayed bowers

Of the Lord of the flowers!

Hush! Hush! the young feet flush

The marble! The temple's ablaze and ablush.

Hush! Hush! softer crush

The grape on the palate, the flower on the blossom, The dream on the sleeper, the bride on the bosom!

The Prophet. Will she not deign, being drawn Into the blush of dawn, To yield the promise, to unveil The Lady of bliss and bale?

I am old and blind; my vision Hath the seer in derision. I would set my lips between

Those rose-tipped moons, just there Where the deciduous green

Leaves the pearly rapture bare,

With its blue veins like rivulets Jewelled with gentians and violets, Wandering through fields of corn, Under the first kiss of the morn In still and shimmering air!

The Queen of the Dancers. No! No! the weird is woe. The law is this, most surely this! That who hath seen may never kiss. The soul is at war with the flesh and the mind. Life is dumb, and love is blind.

The Prophet. I am the Prophet of the Gods. I have put these eyes out to attain To the crown of the pallid periods That pulse in the Almighty brain! I have striven all my life for this; That I might see, and still might kiss!

The Musicians. Vain! Vain! Time is sane. Fain! Fain! Space is plain. Time passes once, and is not found. Space divides once, not heals the wound. Knell! Knell! the shattered shell That could not break the word of Hell. Whirl! Whirl! the wanton girl (Curve, and coil, and close, and curl!) Slips the grip as the swallow avoids The leaps of the dog; or the moon, that sails Abeam to God's invisible gales, The clumsy caress of the asteroids! Love her in memory, love her in dream,

Love her in hope, or love her in faith; But all these loves are loves that seem; The worst is a ghoul, the best is a wraith; For to birth On the earth

There is no power under, within, or above, That can give thee love in truth and love.

The Prophet. Yet will I strive!

There is nothing but this While I am alive

But the cancer's kiss. If I fail in that

Let the temple be broken, The pillars fall flat,

The word beunspoken, The lights be extinct,

The music be dumb, The circle unlinked,

The acolytes numb, The altar defiled,

The sacrament trod Under foot by the wild Despisers of god!

The Musicians. No! No! Life is woe. Thou dost not know How ineffably great Is the weight of Fate. Uncreate! Ultimate!

Born of Hate! Brother of Woe! Despair its mate! Thou dost not know How giant great Is the grasp of Fate. The Dancers, Vainly Pursuing Impossible things, The swamp-adder wooing The lark with her wings! The Queen of the Dancers. See how I glide— Canst thou not hold me? In thine arms, at thy side— Why not enfold me?

Wisdom, awaken! Never, oh never, By wile or endeavour Am I to be taken.

Will a wish or a word Charm the hawk from the air? And am I a bird To be caught in a snare?

Will a word or a wish Bring the trout from the brook? And am I a fish To snap at an hook?

The Prophet. Ye let me to the holy place. All ye have mocked me to my face.

Now ends the age of living breath; I am sworn henchman unto death. Lead me to the obelisks That support the holy Disks! I am here; my grasp is firm, We are come unto the term. Temple, dancers, girls, musicians, Augurs, acolytes, magicians --Ruin, ruin whelm us all! Fall!

[He pulls down the pillars; but the temple was not supported on them as in his blindness he supposed; and he is himself his only victim.

The Dancers. Twine! twine! rose and vine. Whirl! whirl! boy and girl. Mine! mine! maid divine. Curl! curl! peach and pearl. Twist! twist! the towering trances Are not sun-kissed Like our delicate dances. Expanses Of fancies,

The turn of the ankle! the wave of the wrist

Enhances

Romances!

Twine! twine! tread me a measure!

The dotard is dead that disturbed our pleasure

With his doubt

About

Souls and skins, And the quickened shoots Of pain that he tore From the heart's core Of the dreadful flutes And the terrible violins. Joy! joy! girl and boy!

He is dead! let us laugh! let us dance! let us love!

Leave the corpse there as it lies! we shall measure

A new true dance around and above,

And taste of the treasure,

The torrent of pleasure!

Curl! curl! peach and pearl!

Mine! mine! maid divine!

Whirl! whirl! boy and girl!

Twine! twine! rose and vine.

The Musicians. Hush! hush! the young feet flush, The marble's ablush, The music moves trilling— Like wolves at the killing, Moaning and shrilling,

And clear as the throb in the throat of a thrush!

Rustling they sway

Like a forest of rush

In the storm, and away!

Away! blow the blossoms

Of virgin bosoms

On the sob of the wind

Of the violins

That bind and unbind

Their scarlet sins

On the brows of the world.

Hush! they are curled

In the rapture of reaping

The flowers that unfurled

When the gardeners were sleeping

In the breeze-swayed bowers

Of the Lord of the Flowers!

Hush! Hush! the young feet flush

The marble. The temple's ablaze and ablush.

Hush! hush! softer crush

The grape on the palate, the bloom on the blossom, The dream on the sleeper, the bride on the blosom!

The Queen of the Dancers, in her prime pose. (Spoken without inflection or emphasis.)

Now do you understand the tragedy of life?

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