Verse > Anthologies > William Stanley Braithwaite, ed. > Anthology of Magazine Verse for 1920
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William Stanley Braithwaite, ed. (1878–1962).  Anthology of Magazine Verse for 1920.  1920.
 
The Apples
 
Ridgely Torrence
 
 
—The world is wasted with fire and sword
  But the apples of gold hang over the sea.—
 
When the wounded seaman heard the ocean daughters
With their dreamy call
Lull the stormy demon of the waters,        5
He remembered all.
 
He remembered knowing of an island charted,
“Past a flying fire,”
Where a fruit was growing, winey-hearted,
Called “the mind’s desire.”        10
 
Near him broke the stealing rollers into jewels
Round a tree, and there
Sorrow’s end and healing, peace, renewals
Ripened in the air.
 
So he knew he’d found it and he watched the glory        15
Burning on the tree
With the dancers round it—like the story—
In the swinging sea.
 
Lovely round the honey-colored fruit, the motion
Made a leafy stir.        20
Songs were in that sunny tree of ocean
Where the apples were.
 
First the ocean sung them, then the daughters after,
Dancing to the word.
Beauty danced among them with low laughter        25
And the harp was heard.
 
In that sea’s immeasurable music sounded
Songs of peace, and still
From the bough the treasure hung down rounded
To the seaman’s will.        30
 
Redder than the jewel-seeded beach and sharper
Were the wounds he bore,
Hearing, past the cruel dark, a harper
Lulling on the shore.
 
Long he watched the wonders, ringed with lovely perils,        35
Watched the apples gleam
In the sleepy thunders on the beryls,
Then he breathed his dream:
 
“Bloody lands and flaming seas and cloudy slaughter,
Hateful fogs unfurled,        40
Steely horror, shaming sky and water,
These have wreathed the world.
 
“Give me fruit for freighting, till my anchor grapples
Home beyond the vast.
Earth shall end her hating through the apples        45
And be healed at last.”
 
Then the sea-girls, lifting up their lovely voices
With the secret word,
Sang it through the drifting ocean noises
And the sailor heard;        50
 
Ocean-old the answers reached his failing sinew,
Touched, unveiled his eyes;
Beach and bough and dancers are within you,
There the island lies.
 
“Though the heavens harden, though the thunders hover,        55
Though our song be mute,
Burning in our garden for the lover
Still unfolds the fruit.”
 
Outward from that shore the happy sailor, turning,
Passed the fleets of sleep,        60
Passed his pain and bore the secret, burning,
Homeward to the deep.

  The Nation
 

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