Verse > Anthologies > Harriet Monroe, ed. > Poetry: A Magazine of Verse, 1912–22
Harriet Monroe, ed. (1860–1936).  Poetry: A Magazine of Verse.  1912–22.
In the Desert
By Alice Corbin
  I HAVE seen you, O king of the dead,
More beautiful than sunlight.
Your kiss is like quicksilver;
But I turned my face aside
Lest you should touch my lips.        5
In the field with the flowers
You stood darkly.
My knees trembled, and I knew
That no other joy would be like this.
But the warm field, and the sunlight,        10
And the few years of my girlhood
Came before me, and I cried,
Not yet!
Not yet, O dark lover!
You were patient.        15
            —I know you will come again.
I have seen you, O king of the dead,
More beautiful than sunlight.
  Here in the desert, under the cottonwoods
That keep up a monotonous wind-murmur of leaves,        20
I can hear the water dripping
Through the canals in Venice
From the oar of the gondola
Hugging the old palaces,
Beautiful old houses        25
Sinking quietly into decay…..
  O sunlight—how many things you gild
With your eternal gold!
Sunlight—and night—are everlasting.
  Once every twenty-four hours
Earth has a moment of indecision:
Shall I go on?
Shall I keep turning?
Is it worth while?
Everything holds its breath.        35
The trees huddle anxiously
On the edge of the arroyo,
And then, with a tremendous heave,
Earth shoves the hours on towards dawn.
  Four o’clock in the afternoon.
A stream of money is flowing down Fifth Avenue.
  They speak of the fascination of New York
Climbing aboard motor-busses to look down on the endless play
From the Bay to the Bronx.
But it is forever the same:        45
There is no life there.
  Watching a cloud on the desert,
Endlessly watching small insects crawling in and out of the shadow of a cactus,
A herd-boy on the horizon driving goats,
Uninterrupted sky and blown sand:        50
Nothing but life on the desert,
Intense life.
  The hill cedars and piñons
Point upward like flames,        55
Like smoke they are drawn upward
From the face of the mountains.
Over the sunbaked slopes,
Patches of sun-dried adobes straggle;
Willows along the acequias in the valley        60
Give cool streams of green;
Beyond, on the bare hillsides,
Yellow and red gashes and bleached white paths
Give foothold to the burros,
To the black-shawled Mexican girls        65
Who go for water.

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