When starlight breaks like a surf down the dark sky,
The sea brims at his eyelids, and on his tongue
Is the first taste of death. All night he will lie
Under the live-oak, aware of the young
Girl who lies beside him, seeming to sleep,
The sound of her breathing more plaintive than a cry.
For though his sword glitters between them, he knows
If he speaks her name that she will answer gladly,
If he extends his hand, her hand will close
About it, bring it to her breast. How sadly
Lies he then, unmanned in his gleaming armor,
While silently the starlight ebbs and flows.
Deceived and grievous this ecstatic vigil
Which brings him to earth as one already dead.
The passionate seas flow over him, and fill
His eyes with salt, his bright sword is corroded.
Such ecstacy as this is not of love:
The flesh denied, lewd triumph of the will.
He knows this also, waking, hearing the leaves
Pour down through the dark and the distant sea
Declaim. The sound of her faint breathing grieves
Him like a wound; guilt scars him brutally.
Dead in his armor he conceives her death,
Though even this night’s anguish she forgives.