Man and Woman.

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[According to Maori mythology, the god Tiki created Man by taking a
piece of clay and moistening it with his own blood. Woman was the
offspring of a sunbeam and a sylvan echo.]

THUS God made Man to cope with destiny:
Taking the common clay, God moistened it
With His red blood; and so for ever lit
That sombre grossness with divinity.
So Man for ever finds him in the mesh
Of clogging earth; and though divine hopes thrill
And flush his leaping heart, it faints, for still
His dreams are pinioned in the gyves of flesh.
Yet ever God's blood in him courses free,
And, penetrated with eternal hope,
Up Evolution's long, uneven slope
Man lifts him from his sodden ancestry!
And though his eyes the far goal cannot see,
And half the terrors of the dark he knows,
Yet with an inward fire his courage glows;
He bears the torch of immortality.
But Woman from a memory had birth,
Into the forest's dignity of shade
A sudden sunbeam groped — a soft hand laid
In silent benediction on the earth.
Then filtered through the green a song forlorn
Of some forgotten bird. Lo! in a mist
Of love the sunbeam and the echo kissed,
And Woman — sunlit memory — was born.
So light and melody to her belong —
The sunlight in the dying echo blurred!
So Woman came — a vision and a word
From the unknown — a sunbeam and a song!
So ever through the forest of the years
Shall Man pursue and still pursue the gleam
That wavers and is gone; and through his dream
The fainting echo of a song he hears.
And when at last his weary feet are led
Into the sacred glade, and she stands there,
He takes her close — all song and sunlit hair:
The gleam has faded and the song has fled!
And though with blinded eyes he cannot see,
She haunts him like a word that he knows not —
That is not quite remembered, nor forgot —
Some thought that hovers near a memory.
As out from Heaven she leans, on earth there falls
The sunbeam of her hair, golden and fine;
And drops an echo of a voice divine —
A voice that ever vainly calls and calls!
And though she spill a splendour and a fire
Upon the dark, her glory is unknown;
Behind the screen of self she dwells alone
She cannot come as close as her desire.
So ever like a pale moon drowned in mist
Her face is vague — a barrier intervenes;
And ever from her loneliness she leans,
With waiting eyes, all-wistful to be kissed!

© Arthur Henry Adams