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  4. Sapphics by William Faulkner

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So it is: sleep comes not on my eyelids.
Nor in my eyes, with shaken hair and white
Aloof pale hands, and lips and breasts of iron,
   So she beholds me.

And yet though sleep comes not to me, there comes
A vision from the full smooth brow of sleep,
The white Aphrodite moving unbounded
   By her own hair.

In the purple beaks of the doves that draw her,
Beaks straight without desire, necks bent backward
Toward Lesbos and the flying feet of Loves
   Weeping behind her.

She looks not back, she looks not back to where
The nine crowned muses about Apollo
Stand like nine Corinthian columns singing
   In clear evening.

She sees not the Lesbians kissing mouth
To mouth across lute strings, drunken with singing,
Nor the white feet of the Oceanides
   Shining and unsandalled.

Before her go cryings and lamentations
Of barren women, a thunder of wings,
While ghosts of outcast Lethean women, lamenting,
   Stiffen the twilight.

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    One of the 20th century’s greatest novelists, William Cuthbert Falkner, as his name was originally spelled, never graduated from high school. He was born in New Albany, Mississippi, the first of four sons, and moved with his family to Oxford, Mississippi, at the age of five. As a young man, influenced by the work of English poets A.E. Housman and Algernon Charles Swinburne, he began writing poems that explored Romantic themes of lost love and natural beauty.
    After a brief stint in the Canadian Royal Air Force (where it is believed he claimed the “Faulkner” spelling), he enrolled at the University of Mississippi for three semesters, during which time he published his first poem, “L’Apres-Midi d’un Faune,” in the New Republic. In 1924 his first book, a poetry collection entitled The Marble Faun, was published.
    Soon thereafter, Faulkner moved to New Orleans, where he began...

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