Herbert E. Clarke

"'The Assignation' is from Mr. Clarke's latest volume, Storm Drift; and 'King of Kings' from its predecessor, Songs in Exile (Marcus Ward, 1879). Mr. Clarke has written several excellent sonnets." (Sharp)

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The Assignation

The darkness throbbed that night with the great heat,
And my heart throbbed at thought of what should be;
The house was dumb, the lock slid silently;
I only heard the night's hot pulses beat
Around me as I sped with quiet feet
Down the dark corridors; and once the sea
Moaned in its slumber, and I stayed, but she
Came forth to meet me lily-white and sweet.

Was there a man's soul ever worth her kiss?
Silent and still I stood, and she drew near,
And her lips mixed with mine, and her sweet breath
Fanned my hot face; and afterward I wis,
What the sea said to us I did not hear;
But now I know it spake of Doom and Death.

King of Kings

O Death, Death, Death! Thou art the Lord of all,
And at Thy temple, where for Thee are shed
Man's blood and tears: gods, kings, and temples fall;
Thy reign, O Lord, is immemorial:
Ever thou waxest stronger and more dread,
More populous grows Thy kingdom of the dead,
And joy and love and hope Thou hast in thrall.

We follow vain desires and idle things,
We vex our souls with hollow hopes and fears,
We dread the future and regret the past:
Thou comest, O Almighty, King of kings,
And stillest all the tumult of the years,
And tak'st each babbler to thy breast at last.

(Text from Sonnets of This Century)