Away their purple faces and their gold,
And evening has taken all the bees from the thyme,
And all the scent is shed away by the cold.
Against the hard and pale blue evening sky
The mountain’s new-dropped summer snow is clear
Glistening in steadfast stillness: like transcendent
Clean pain sending on us a chill down here.
Christ on the Cross! — his beautiful young man’s body
Has fallen dead upon the nails, and hangs
White and loose at last, with all the pain
Drawn on his mouth, eyes broken at last by his pangs.
And slowly down the mountain road, belated,
A bullock wagon comes; so I am ashamed
To gaze any more at the Christ, whom the mountain snows
Whitely confront; I wait on the grass, am lamed.
The breath of the bullock stains the hard, chill air,
The band is across its brow, and it scarcely seems
To draw the load, so still and slow it moves,
While the driver on the shaft sits crouched in dreams.
Surely about his sunburnt face is something
That vexes me with wonder.
He sits so still
Here among all this silence, crouching forward,
Dreaming and letting the bullock take its will.
I stand aside on the grass to let them go;
And Christ, I have met his accusing eyes again,
The brown eyes black with misery and hate, that look
Full in my own, and the torment starts again.
One moment the hate leaps at me standing there,
One moment I see the stillness of agony,
Something frozen the silence that dare not be
Loosed, one moment the darkness frightens me.
Then among the averted pansies, beneath the high
White peaks of snow, at the foot of the sunken Christ,
I stand in a chill of anguish, trying to say
The joy I bought was not too highly-priced.
But he has gone, motionless, hating me,
Living as the mountains do, because they are strong,
With a pale, dead Christ on the crucifix of his heart,
And breathing the frozen memory of his wrong.
Still in his nostrils the frozen breath of despair,
And heart like a cross that bears dead agony
Of naked love, clenched in his fists the shame,
And in his belly the smouldering hate of me.
And I, as I stand in the cold, averted flowers, Feel the shame-wounds in his hands pierce through my own,
And breathe despair that turns my lungs to stone
And know the dead Christ weighing on my bone. ~
Meeting Among the Mountains –