Donald (Grady) Davidson

D
Donald (Grady) Davidson
The House of the Sun
“The chambers of the sun, that now
From ancient melody have ceased.”

The doorways of the Sun were closed;
Its muted bells gave forth no sound.
But while the windy prophets dozed
A child a little crevice found.
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Teach Me
Teach me, old World, your passion of slow change,
Your calm of stars, watching the turn of earth,
Patient of man, and never thinking strange
The mad red crash of each new system’s birth.

Teach me, for I would know your beauty’s way
That waits and changes with each changing sun,
No dawn so fair but promises a day
Of other perfectness than men have won.

Teach me, old World, not as vain men have taught,
—Unpatient song, nor words of hollow brass,
Nor men’s dismay whose powerfullest thought
Is woe that they and worlds alike must pass.

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The Tiger-Woman
The Tiger-Woman came to me
When dusk was close and men were dull.
She beckoned from the jungle-path;
I followed, dreaming, fanciful.

The Tiger-Woman’s face is pale,
But oh, her speaking eyes are dark.
No beast can move so lithe as she
Beside the matted river’s mark.

The jungle is a fearsome place
For men who hunt, and men who slay,
But I was not afraid to go
Where Tiger-Woman led the way.

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The Amulet
Thou twist of gold, woven so curiously,
Be filled with warmth and urgent tenderness,
And cool not on her throat’s white nakedness,
Like metal death, but burn insistently,
Reminding her of me!

To save her from the serpent’s little eye
I set a stone of blue chalcedony
Within a cunning loop—so it shall be
Aware and mindful when her lashes lie
Untaught of danger nigh.

To keep her from the dragon’s hungry tooth
In seven laps the quorls were subtly twined;
From seven rivers grains of gold were mined,
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Pot Macabre
“Press out an opiate juice
From berries culled in prick of June-time heat;
Pound nettles in a cruse
Of crimson sard till mixing is complete;
And strain the brew through bags of sarcenet,
Mumbling the runes that crazed Sir Dagonet.”

So spoke the slobbering witch,
Wagging her shaky head incessantly;
Then, with an agile twitch
Stove oddly crackling through the briery.
I caught the swish of her broomstick up to the moon,
And her tattered skirt afloat like a black balloon.

Old Witch, whither art gone?
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Censored
Into a crock of gold he’d set some weeds,
Behold swart devils in the sunniest weather;
He would lump the saint and the courtesan together,
Most miserably jangling all the creeds.

The prurient multitude heard he was mad,
Yet nosed his books for some pornography.
The censors doubted his virginity,
And secretly conned the works that they forbade.

Reporters found this dangerous oddity
In rusty pantaloons, mowing the green,
And wondered how so dull a wretch could have seen
A naked Venus disturbing an alien sea.

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Prie-Dieu
Of what sins have you made confession here,
Ardent Cecile? Not passion’s intimacy,
Or tangles of desire that mutineer
A bold way through your maiden ecstasy.
Those are not blamed...the penance not severe!

Pray rather, with cool-lidded conscious eyes
For warm juvescence of those ichored limbs,
For laughter checked by no repentant cries,
For lips unstained by pattering of hymns.
Men’s glances have embraced you. They are wise.

They have seen you, cumbent by the ruddy fire,
Lending your curves to cushioned wantonness,
Or leaping to the stroke of an earthy lyre
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