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Ah, you stack of white lilies, all white and gold,
A am adrift as a sunbeam, and without form
Or having, save I light on you to warm
Your pallor into radiance, flush your cold


White beauty into incandescence: you
Are not a stack of white lilies tonight, but a white
And clustered star transfigured by me tonight,
And lighting these ruddy leaves like a star dropped through


The slender bare arms of the branches, your tire-maidens
Who lift swart arms to fend me off; but I come
Like a wind of fire upon you, like to some
Stray whitebeam who on you his fire unladens.


And you are a glistening toadstool shining here
Among the crumpled beech-leaves phosphorescent,
My stack of white lilies burning incandescent
Of me, a soft white star among the leaves, my dear.


Is it with pain, my dear, that you shudder so?
Is it because I have hurt you with pain, my dear?


Did I shiver?--Nay, truly I did not know--
A dewdrop may-be splashed on my face down here.


Why even now you speak through close-shut teeth,
I have been too much for you--Ah, I remember!


The ground is a little chilly underneath
The leaves--and, dear, you consume me all to an ember.


You hold yourself all hard as if my kisses
Hurt as I gave them--you put me away--


Ah never I put you away: yet each kiss hisses
Hot as a drop of fire wastes me away.


I am ashamed, you wanted me not to-night--
Nay, it is always so, you sigh with me.
Your radiance dims when I draw too near, and my free
Fire enters your petals like death, you wilt dead white.


Ah, I do know, and I am deep ashamed;
You love me while I hover tenderly
Like clinging sunbeams kissing you: but see
When I close in fire upon you, and you are flamed


With the swiftest fire of my love, you are destroyed.
'Tis a degradation deep to me, that my best
Soul's whitest lightning which should bright attest
God stepping down to earth in one white stride,


Means only to you a clogged, numb burden of flesh
Heavy to bear, even heavy to uprear
Again from earth, like lilies wilted and sere
Flagged on the floor, that before stood up so fresh.