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Kowhai Gold

[Toni McGrath]

Chinese Ivory
I think—a thousand years ago
In some dim, Chinese dwelling-place
Of ancient gods with smiling mouths,
Smooth faces slit with almond eyes,
And monstrous feet and folded hands,
A wrinkled artist, bending low
Over the lucent ivory,
Chiselled this melancholy face
With agonizing patience, till
The shadowed visions of the soul,
The strange calm and the wild unrest
Which this deep musing gave to him,
And that sad ecstasy of peace
He knew when muted violins
Played 'neath the silver-weeping moon—
Or his brief pangs of happiness
As when he saw the sighing wind
Scatter a fountain's opal rain
page 150 Over the thirsting lotus blooms
At the pale ending of the day—
And thoughts that lingered in his mind
Like dreams remembered after sleep
Were graven by his skilful hands
Into this young god's weary face.
Now in this grey-skied town of rain
And storm-swept trees and pointed spires
Where yet the cold stone dwellings lack
The ripening suns of centuries
His beauty-tortured soul lives on
Imprisoned in this mournful face
Of aeon-mellowed ivory.
For hidden in the placid smile
His resignation lies, and still
In the down-gazing, mournful eyes,
Unshed, there stand eternal tears.