The Sabbath


"To A. E. W."

by Ethel Ramsey

OCCULT, forbidden lights

Move in the royal rites.

Diaphanous, they dance

Above the souls in trance

That have attained to their untold inheritance.

Above the mystic masque,

Like plumes upon a casque,

They wave their purple and red

Above each haggard head.

Thy are like gems snake-rooted, basilisks' bed.

Here were the tables set

For Baal and Baphomet:

Her was the altar drest

With fire and Alkahest

For many a holy host, for many a goodly guest.

Here was the veil, and here

The sword and dagger of fear.

Here was the circle traced,

And here the pillar placed

For Him the utterly unfathomably chaste.

Here grew the murmur grim

Of the low-muttered hymn;

Here sound itself caught flame

From the dark drone of shame ---

The world reverberated the unutterable Name!

Astarte from her trance

Leapt loving to the dance,

Greeting as fire greets firs

Her whirling worshippers.

And all her joy was theirs, and all their madness hers!

Yea! thou and I that strove

For mastery in love,

Circling the altar stone

Maze-like, with magic moan,

Forthwith made that divinest destiny our own.

Throughout that violent vigil

We wove the stormy sigil,

Our faces ashen-lipped

From our heart's blood that dripped

On the armed talismans of that moon-vaulted crypt.

Then came the sombre spectre

From the abyss of nectar;

Yea, from the icy North

Came the great vision forth,

A giant breaking through the weary web of wrath.

Then, in the midst, behold

That blaze of burnished gold

Imperishable, set

With adamant and jet;

And by the obscene head we hailed him Baphomet.

Hail to the Master, hail!

Lord of the Sabbath! Baal!

I kiss thy feet, I kiss

Thy knees --- and this --- and this ---

Till I am lifted up to the incorporeal Byss.

Till here alone exalted

I gaze beneath the vaulted

Forehead, within the eyes

Wherein such wonder lies,

The incommensurable gain, the pagan prize.

We are thy moons an suns,

Thy loyal knights and nuns,

Who tread the dance around

Thine altar, with the sound

Of death-sobs echoing through the immemorial ground.

O glee! the price to pay!

Swear but our souls away!

And we may gain the goal

That all the wise extol ---

The world, the flesh, the devil, weighed against a soul.

The wind blows from the south!

Crushed to that burning mouth,

Lured by that lurid law,

We melt within that maw;

And all he fiends loose hold, and all the gods withdraw!

Upon the altar-stone

We are alone --- alone!

In vivid blackness curled

With livid lightings pearled ---

Sweat-drops upon God's brow when He creates a world!

Sister, the word is spoken!

Sister, the spell is broken.

The Sabbath torches flicker;

The Sabbath heart beats quicker;

We have drained the Sabbath cup of its austerest liquor.

Forsaken is the hall;

Finished the festival.

My witch and I are thrown

Dead on the altar stone

By the contemptuous god that made our soul his own.

Come! Come! we must begone.

Hiss the last orison!

Intone the last lament!

Take the last sacrament,

The extreme unction, Saviour when the soul is spent!

Come! hurry through the night,

A trail of tortured flight!

Eagle and pelican

Become mere maid and man

Till the next Sabbath --- days each like leviathan!

Nay! lift the languid head!

Take of this wine and bread!

The vision is withdrawn;

The lake calls, and the lawn;

Our love shall walk abroad in the grey hours of dawn!