BETA

To Salomé at St. James’s

Flower of the ballet’s nightly mirth,1
Pleased with a trinket or a gown,2
Eternal as eternal earth3
You dance the centuries down.4
For you, my plaything, slight and light,5
Capricious, petulant and proud,6
With whom I sit and sup to-night7
Among the tawdry crowd,8
Are she whose swift and sandalled feet9
And postured girlish beauty won10
A pagan prize, for you unmeet,11
The head of Baptist John.12
And after ages, when you sit13
A princess less in birth and power,14
Freed from the theatre’s fume and heat15
To kill an idle hour16
Here in the babbling room agleam17
With scarlet lips and naked arms18
And such rich jewels as beseem19
The painted damzel’s charms,20
Even now your tired and subtle face21
Bears record to the wondrous time22
When from your limbs’ lascivious grace23
Spring forth your splendid crime.24
And though none deem it true, of those25
Who watch you in our banal age26
Like some stray fairy glide and pose27
Upon a London stage,28
Yet I to whom your frail caprice29
Turns for the moment ardent eyes30
Have seen the strength of love release31
Your sleeping memories.32
I too am servant to your glance,33
I too am bent beneath your sway,34
My wonder !  My desire !  who dance35
Men’s heads and hearts away.36
Sweet arbitress of love and death,37
Unchanging on time’s changing sands,38
You hold more lightly than a breath39
The world between your hands !40