WHY is it I remember yet
You, of all women one has met
In random wayfare, as one meets
The chance romances of the street?,
The Juliet of a night ? I know
Your heart holds many a Romeo.
And I, who call to mind your face
In so serene a pausing-place,
Where the bright pure expanse of sea,
The shadowy shore’s austerity,
Seems a reproach to you and me,
I too have sought on many a breast
The ecstasy of love’s unrest,
I too have had my dreams, and met
(Ah me !) how many a Juliet.
Why is it, then, that I recall
You, neither first nor last of all ?
For, surely as I see to-night
The glancing of the lighthouse light,
Against the sky, across the bay,
As turn by turn it falls my way,
Out of the empty night arise,
Child, you arise and smile to me
Out of the night, out of the sea,
The Nereid of a moment there,
And is it seaweed in your hair ?
O lost and wrecked, how long ago,
Out of the drowned past, I know,
You come to call me, come to claim
My share of your delicious shame.
Child, I remember, and can tell
One night we loved each other well ;
And one night’s love, at least or most,
Is not so small a thing to boast.
You were adorable, and I
Adored you to infinity,
That nuptial night too briefly borne
To the oblivion of morn.
Oh, no oblivion ! for I feel
Your lips deliriously steal
Along my neck, and fasten there ;
I feel the perfume of your hair,
And your soft breast that heaves and dips,
Desiring my desirous lips,
And that ineffable delight
When souls turn bodies, and unite
In the intolerable, the whole
Rapture of the embodied soul.
That joy was ours, we passed it by ;
You have forgotten me, and I
An instant from oblivion.
find I, remembering, would declare
That joy, not shame, is ours to share,
Joy that we had the will and power,
In spite of fate, to snatch one hour,
Out of vague nights, and days at strife,
So infinitely full of life.
And tis for this I see you rise,
A wraith, with starlight in your eyes,
Here, where the drowsy-minded mood
Is one with Nature’s solitude ;
For this, for this, you come to me
Out of the night, out of the sea.
Symons, Arthur. “Stella Maris.” The Yellow Book, vol. 1, April 1894, pp. 129-31. Yellow Book Digital Edition, edited by Dennis Denisoff and Lorraine Janzen Kooistra, 2010-2014. Yellow Nineties 2.0, Ryerson University Centre for Digital Humanities, 2019. https://1890s.ca/YBV1_symons_stellam