Bacchante

Bacchante by Clark Ashton Smith


Men say the gods have flown;

The Golden Age is but a fading story,

And Greece was transitory:

Yet on this hill hesperian we have known

The ancient madness and the ancient glory.


Under the thyrse upholden,

We have felt the thrilling presence of the god,

And you, Bacchante, shod

With moonfire, and with moonfire all enfolden,

Have danced upon the mystery-haunted sod.


With every autumn blossom,

And with the brown and verdant leaves of vine,

We have filled your hair divine;

From the cupped hollow of your delicious bosom

We have drunk wine, Bacehante, purple wine. ]


About us now the night

Grows mystical with gleams and shadows cast

By moons for ever past;

And in your steps, O dancer of our delight,

Wild phantoms move, invisible and fast.



Behind, before us sweep

Maenad and Bassarid in spectral rout

With many an unheard shout;

Cithaeron looms with every festal steep

Over this hill resolved to dream and doubt.



What Power flows through us,

And makes the old delirium mount amain,

And brims each ardent vein

With passion and with rapture perilous?

Dancer, of whom our votive hearts are fain,



You are that magic urn

Wherefrom is poured the pagan gramarie;

Until, accordantly,

Within our bardic blood and spirit burn

The dreams and fevers of antiquity.