American Poetry 1922/The Flaming Circle


Though for fifteen years you have chaffed me across the table,
    Slept in my arms and fingered my plunging heart,
I scarcely know you; we have known each other.
    For all the fierce and casual contacts, something keeps us apart.

Are you struggling, perhaps, in a world that I see only dimly,
    Except as it sweeps toward the star on which I stand alone?
Are we swung like two planets, compelled in our separate orbits,
    Yet held in a flaming circle far greater that our own?

Last night we were single, a radiant core of completion,
    Surrounded by flames that embraced us but left no burns,
To-day we are only ourselves; we have plans and pretensions;
    We move in dividing streets with our small and different concerns.

Merging and rending, we wait for the miracle.
   The fire runs deeper, consuming these selves in its growth.
Can this be the mystical marriage—this clash and communion;
   This pain of possession that frees and encircles us both?

This work is in the public domain in the United States because it was published before January 1, 1928.

The longest-living author of this work died in 1977, so this work is in the public domain in countries and areas where the copyright term is the author's life plus 45 years or less. This work may be in the public domain in countries and areas with longer native copyright terms that apply the rule of the shorter term to foreign works.