Verse > Anthologies > Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. > An American Anthology, 1787–1900
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Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. (1833–1908).  An American Anthology, 1787–1900.  1900.
 
1681. The Dancer
 
By Ednah Proctor (Clarke) Hayes
 
 
SKIN creamy as the furled magnolia bud
  That stabs the dusky shadows of her hair;
Great startled eyes, and sudden-pulsing blood
  Staining her cheek and throat and shoulder bare.
 
        (Ah Manuelita!        5
        Lita Pepita!
        List the cachucha!
        Dance! dance!)
 
Swaying she stands, the while one rounded arm
  Draws her mantilla’s folds in sky disguise,        10
Till in the music’s subtle, quickening charm
  Her trancëd soul forgets the alien eyes.
 
Fades the swift flush, save from the rose-soft mouth,
  And all the conquering memories of Spain
Fling wide her veil; the vintage of the South        15
  Leaps in her heart, and laughs through every vein!
 
        (Ah Manuelita!
        Star of Cordova!
        Passion and innocence!
        Dance! dance!)        20
 
Gone from her gaze the stage, the mimicry:
  Yon painted scene? It is Cordova’s walls!
The eager trumpets ring to revelry—
  The banderillero cries—the toro falls!
 
The vision thrills to heart, to eyes, to lips;        25
  Her castanets click out in conscious pride;
Curved throat, arched foot, and lissome-swaying hips,
  The music sweeps her in its swirling tide.
 
Love and denial, mockery and desire,
  A fountain tossing in its moody play,        30
Tempest of sunshine, cloud, and dew, and fire,
Dancing in joyance to the jocund day!
 
        (Ah Manuelita!
        Till the moon swoons in mist!
        Till the stars dim and die!        35
        Dance! dance!)
 
Soft! through the music steals a yearning strain,—
  Now distant viols grieve down the drowsy night,—
Her fluttering feet are poised, then drift again,
  Luring in languor, dreamy with delight.        40
 
        (Ah Manuelita!
        Witch of the wingëd feet!
        Lead on to dream or death!
        Dance! dance!)
 
Hushed in her heart are raptures and alarms;        45
  Falling, as water falleth, to her knees,
She spreads the drifted foam-wreath of her arms;
  The music dies in whispered ecstacies.
 

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