The Hunting of Dian
By George Sterling
In the silence of a midnight lost, lost forevermore,
I stood upon a nameless beach where none had been before,
And red gold and yellow gold were the shells upon that shore.
Lone, lone it was as a mist-enfolded strand
Set round a lake where marble demons stand —
Held like a sapphire-stone in Thibet's monstrous hand.
And there I beheld how One stood in her grace
To hold to the stars her wet and faery face,
And on the smooth and haunted sands her footfall had no trace.
White, white was she as the youngest seraph's word,
Or milk of Eden's kine or Eden's fragrant curd,
Cast in love by Eve's wan hand to her most snowy bird.
Fair, fair was she as Venus of the sky,
And the jasmine of her breast and starlight of her eye
Made the heart a pain and the soul a hopeless sigh.
Weak with the sight I leaned upon my sword,
Till my soul that had sighed was become an unseen chord
For stress of music rendered to unknown things adored.
Surely she heard, but her beauty gave no sign
To me for whom the hushed sea was odorous as wine, —
To me for whom the voiceless world was made her silent shrine.
And she sent forth her gaze to the waters of the West,
And she sent forth her soul to the Islands of the Blest,
Below a star whose silver throes set pearls upon her breast.
But chill in the East brake a glory on the lands,
And she moaned like some low wave that dies on frozen sands,
And held to her sea-lover sweet and cruel hands.
Then rose the moon, and its lance was in her side,
And there was bitter music because in woe she cried,
Ere on the hard and gleaming beach she laid her down and died.
I leapt to her succor, my sword I left behind;
But one low mound of opal foam was all that I could find —
A moon-washed length of airy gems that trembled in the wind.
I knelt below the stars; the sea put forth a wave;
The moon drew up the captive tides upon her shining grave,
As far away I heard the cry her dim sea-lover gave.