Hilda Doolittle





At Ithaca

Over and back,  
the long waves crawl  
and track the sand with foam;   
night darkens, and the sea   
takes on that desperate tone   
of dark that wives put on   
when all their love is done. 
 
Over and back,  
the tangled thread falls slack,  
over and up and on;  
over and all is sewn;  
now while I bind the end,  
I wish some fiery friend   
would sweep impetuously   
these fingers from the loom. 
 
My weary thoughts  
play traitor to my soul,  
just as the toil is over;  
swift while the woof is whole,  
turn now, my spirit, swift,   
and tear the pattern there,  
the flowers so deftly wrought,   
the borders of sea blue,  
the sea-blue coast of home. 
 
The web was over-fair,  
that web of pictures there,   
enchantments that I thought   
he had, that I had lost;   
weaving his happiness  
within the stitching frame,  
weaving his fire and frame,  
I thought my work was done,   
I prayed that only one  
of those that I had spurned   
might stoop and conquer this   
long waiting with a kiss. 

But each time that I see   
my work so beautifully   
inwoven and would keep   
the picture and the whole,   
Athene steels my soul.   
Slanting across my brain,  
I see as shafts of rain  
his chariot and his shafts,  
I see the arrows fall,  
I see my lord who moves   
like Hector, lord of love,  
I see him matched with fair   
bright rivals, and I see   
those lesser rivals flee.