Oh, love of woman, you are known to be
A passion sent to plague the hearts of men;
For every one you bring felicity
Bringing rebuffs and wretchedness to ten.
I have been oft where human life sold cheap
And seen men's brains spilled out about their ears
And yet that never cost me any sleep;
I lived untroubled and I shed no tears.
Fools prate how war is an atrocious thing;
I always knew that nothing it implied
Equalled the agony of suffering
Of him who loves and loves unsatisfied.
War is a refuge to a heart like this;
Love only tells it what true torture is.
There have been times when I could storm and plead,
But you shall never hear me supplicate.
These long months that have magnified my need
Have made my asking less importunate,
For now small favors seem to me so great
That not the courteous lovers of old time
Were more content to rule themselves and wait,
Easing desire with discourse and sweet rhyme.
Nay, be capricious, willful; have no fear
To wound me with unkindness done or said,
Lest mutual devotion make too dear
My life that hangs by a so slender thread,
And happy love unnerve me before May
For that stern part that I have yet to play.
When among creatures fair of countenance
Love comes enformed in such proud character,
So far as other beauty yields to her,
So far the breast with fiercer longing pants;
I bless the spot, and hour, and circumstance,
That wed desire to a thing so high,
And say, Glad soul, rejoice, for thou and I
Of bliss unpaired are made participants;
Hence have come ardent thoughts and waking dreams
That, feeding Fancy from so sweet a cup,
Leave it no lust for gross imaginings.
Through her the woman's perfect beauty gleams
That while it gazes lifts the spirit up
To that high source from which all beauty springs.
A tide of beauty with returning May
Floods the fair city; from warm pavements fume
Odors endeared; down avenues in bloom
The chestnut-trees with phallic spires are gay.
Over the terrace flows the thronged cafe;
The boulevards are streams of hurrying sound;
And through the streets, like veins when they abound,
The lust for pleasure throbs itself away.
Here let me live, here let me still pursue
Phantoms of bliss that beckon and recede, --
Thy strange allurements, City that I love,
Maze of romance, where I have followed too
The dream Youth treasures of its dearest need
And stars beyond thy towers bring tidings of.
All That's Not Love . . .
All that's not love is the dearth of my days,
The leaves of the volume with rubric unwrit,
The temple in times without prayer, without praise,
The altar unset and the candle unlit.
Let me survive not the lovable sway
Of early desire, nor see when it goes
The courts of Life's abbey in ivied decay,
Whence sometime sweet anthems and incense arose.
The delicate hues of its sevenfold rings
The rainbow outlives not; their yellow and blue
The butterfly sees not dissolve from his wings,
But even with their beauty life fades from them too.
No more would I linger past Love's ardent bounds
Nor live for aught else but the joy that it craves,
That, burden and essence of all that surrounds,
Is the song in the wind and the smile on the waves.
Flaked, drifting clouds hide not the full moon's rays
More than her beautiful bright limbs were hid
By the light veils they burned and blushed amid,
Skilled to provoke in soft, lascivious ways,
And there was invitation in her voice
And laughing lips and wonderful dark eyes,
As though above the gates of Paradise
Fair verses bade, Be welcome and rejoice!
O'er rugs where mottled blue and green and red
Blent in the patterns of the Orient loom,
Like a bright butterfly from bloom to bloom,
She floated with delicious arms outspread.
There was no pose she took, no move she made,
But all the feverous, love-envenomed flesh
Wrapped round as in the gladiator's mesh
And smote as with his triple-forked blade.
I thought that round her sinuous beauty curled
Fierce exhalations of hot human love, --
Around her beauty valuable above
The sunny outspread kingdoms of the world;
Flowing as ever like a dancing fire
Flowed her belled ankles and bejewelled wrists,
Around her beauty swept like sanguine mists
The nimbus of a thousand hearts' desire.
Over the radiant ridges borne out on the offshore wind,
I have sailed as a butterfly sails whose priming wings unfurled
Leave the familiar gardens and visited fields behind
To follow a cloud in the east rose-flushed on the rim of the world.
I have strayed from the trodden highway for walking with upturned eyes
On the way of the wind in the treetops, and the drift of the tinted rack.
For the will to be losing no wonder of sunny or starlit skies
I have chosen the sod for my pillow and a threadbare coat for my back.
Evening of ample horizons, opaline, delicate, pure,
Shadow of clouds on green valleys, trailed over meadows and trees,
Cities of ardent adventure where the harvests of Joy mature,
Forests whose murmuring voices are amorous prophecies,
World of romance and profusion, still round my journey spread
The glamours, the glints, the enthralments, the nurture of one whose feet
From hours unblessed by beauty nor lighted by love have fled
As the shade of the tomb on his pathway and the scent of the winding-sheet.
I never could rest from roving nor put from my heart this need
To be seeing how lovably Nature in flower and face hath wrought, --
In flower and meadow and mountain and heaven where the white clouds breed
And the cunning of silken meshes where the heart's desire lies caught.
Over the azure expanses, on the offshore breezes borne,
I have sailed as a butterfly sails, nor recked where the impulse led,
Sufficed with the sunshine and freedom, the warmth and the summer morn,
The infinite glory surrounding, the infinite blue ahead
The Need To Love
The need to love that all the stars obey
Entered my heart and banished all beside.
Bare were the gardens where I used to stray;
Faded the flowers that one time satisfied.
Before the beauty of the west on fire,
The moonlit hills from cloister-casements viewed
Cloud-like arose the image of desire,
And cast out peace and maddened solitude.
I sought the City and the hopes it held:
With smoke and brooding vapors intercurled,
As the thick roofs and walls close-paralleled
Shut out the fair horizons of the world---
A truant from the fields and rustic joy,
In my changed thought that image even so
Shut out the gods I worshipped as a boy
And all the pure delights I used to know.
Often the veil has trembled at some tide
Of lovely reminiscence and revealed
How much of beauty Nature holds beside
Sweet lips that sacrifice and arms that yield:
Clouds, window-framed, beyond the huddled eaves
When summer cumulates their golden chains,
Or from the parks the smell of burning leaves,
Fragrant of childhood in the country lanes,
An organ-grinder's melancholy tune
In rainy streets, or from an attic sill
The blue skies of a windy afternoon
Where our kites climbed once from some grassy hill:
And my soul once more would be wrapped entire
In the pure peace and blessing of those years.
Before the fierce infection of Desire
Had ravaged all the flesh. Through starting tears
Shone that lost Paradise; but, if it did,
Again ere long the prison-shades would fall
That Youth condemns itself to walk amid,
So narrow, but so beautiful withal.
And I have followed Fame with less devotion,
And kept no real ambition but to see
Rise from the foam of Nature's sunlit ocean
My dream of palpable divinity;
And aught the world contends for to mine eye
Seemed not so real a meaning of success
As only once to clasp before I die
My vision of embodied happiness.
To see the clouds his spirit yearned toward so
Over new mountains piled and unploughed waves,
Back of old-storied spires and architraves
To watch Arcturus rise or Fomalhaut,
And roused by street-cries in strange tongues when day
Flooded with gold some domed metropolis,
Between new towers to waken and new bliss
Spread on his pillow in a wondrous way:
These were his joys. Oft under bulging crates,
Coming to market with his morning load,
The peasant found him early on his road
To greet the sunrise at the city-gates,---
There where the meadows waken in its rays,
Golden with mist, and the great roads commence,
And backward, where the chimney-tops are dense,
Cathedral-arches glimmer through the haze.
White dunes that breaking show a strip of sea,
A plowman and his team against the blue
Swiss pastures musical with cowbells, too,
And poplar-lined canals in Picardie,
And coast-towns where the vultures back and forth
Sail in the clear depths of the tropic sky,
And swallows in the sunset where they fly
Over gray Gothic cities in the north,
And the wine-cellar and the chorus there,
The dance-hall and a face among the crowd,---
Were all delights that made him sing aloud
For joy to sojourn in a world so fair.
Back of his footsteps as he journeyed fell
Range after range; ahead blue hills emerged.
Before him tireless to applaud it surged
The sweet interminable spectacle.
And like the west behind a sundown sea
Shone the past joys his memory retraced,
And bright as the blue east he always faced
Beckoned the loves and joys that were to be.
From every branch a blossom for his brow
He gathered, singing down Life's flower-lined road,
And youth impelled his spirit as he strode
Like winged Victory on the galley's prow.
That Loveliness whose being sun and star,
Green Earth and dawn and amber evening robe,
That lamp whereof the opalescent globe
The season's emulative splendors are,
That veiled divinity whose beams transpire
From every pore of universal space,
As the fair soul illumes the lovely face---
That was his guest, his passion, his desire.
His heart the love of Beauty held as hides
One gem most pure a casket of pure gold.
It was too rich a lesser thing to bold;
It was not large enough for aught besides.
Do You Remember Once . . .
Do you remember once, in Paris of glad faces,
The night we wandered off under the third moon's rays
And, leaving far behind bright streets and busy places,
Stood where the Seine flowed down between its quiet quais?
The city's voice was hushed; the placid, lustrous waters
Mirrored the walls across where orange windows burned.
Out of the starry south provoking rumors brought us
Far promise of the spring already northward turned.
And breast drew near to breast, and round its soft desire
My arm uncertain stole and clung there unrepelled.
I thought that nevermore my heart would hover nigher
To the last flower of bliss that Nature's garden held.
There, in your beauty's sweet abandonment to pleasure,
The mute, half-open lips and tender, wondering eyes,
I saw embodied first smile back on me the treasure
Long sought across the seas and back of summer skies.
Dear face, when courted Death shall claim my limbs and find them
Laid in some desert place, alone or where the tides
Of war's tumultuous waves on the wet sands behind them
Leave rifts of gasping life when their red flood subsides,
Out of the past's remote delirious abysses
Shine forth once more as then you shone, -- beloved head,
Laid back in ecstasy between our blinding kisses,
Transfigured with the bliss of being so coveted.
And my sick arms will part, and though hot fever sear it,
My mouth will curve again with the old, tender flame.
And darkness will come down, still finding in my spirit
The dream of your brief love, and on my lips your name.
You loved me on that moonlit night long since.
You were my queen and I the charming prince
Elected from a world of mortal men.
You loved me once. . . . What pity was it, then,
You loved not Love. . . . Deep in the emerald west,
Like a returning caravel caressed
By breezes that load all the ambient airs
With clinging fragrance of the bales it bears
From harbors where the caravans come down,
I see over the roof-tops of the town
The new moon back again, but shall not see
The joy that once it had in store for me,
Nor know again the voice upon the stair,
The little studio in the candle-glare,
And all that makes in word and touch and glance
The bliss of the first nights of a romance
When will to love and be beloved casts out
The want to question or the will to doubt.
You loved me once. . . . Under the western seas
The pale moon settles and the Pleiades.
The firelight sinks; outside the night-winds moan --
The hour advances, and I sleep alone.
Farewell, dear heart, enough of vain despairing!
If I have erred I plead but one excuse --
The jewel were a lesser joy in wearing
That cost a lesser agony to lose.
I had not bid for beautifuller hours
Had I not found the door so near unsealed,
Nor hoped, had you not filled my arms with flowers,
For that one flower that bloomed too far afield.
If I have wept, it was because, forsaken,
I felt perhaps more poignantly than some
The blank eternity from which we waken
And all the blank eternity to come.
And I betrayed how sweet a thing and tender
(In the regret with which my lip was curled)
Seemed in its tragic, momentary splendor
My transit through the beauty of the world.
In that fair capital where Pleasure, crowned
Amidst her myriad courtiers, riots and rules,
I too have been a suitor. Radiant eyes
Were my life's warmth and sunshine, outspread arms
My gilded deep horizons. I rejoiced
In yielding to all amorous influence
And multiple impulsion of the flesh,
To feel within my being surge and sway
The force that all the stars acknowledge too.
Amid the nebulous humanity
Where I an atom crawled and cleaved and sundered,
I saw a million motions, but one law;
And from the city's splendor to my eyes
The vapors passed and there was nought but Love,
A ferment turbulent, intensely fair,
Where Beauty beckoned and where Strength pursued.
There was a time when I thought much of Fame,
And laid the golden edifice to be
That in the clear light of eternity
Should fitly house the glory of my name.
But swifter than my fingers pushed their plan,
Over the fair foundation scarce begun,
While I with lovers dallied in the sun,
The ivy clambered and the rose-vine ran.
And now, too late to see my vision, rise,
In place of golden pinnacles and towers,
Only some sunny mounds of leaves and flowers,
Only beloved of birds and butterflies.
My friends were duped, my favorers deceived;
But sometimes, musing sorrowfully there,
That flowered wreck has seemed to me so fair
I scarce regret the temple unachieved.
For there were nights . . . my love to him whose brow
Has glistened with the spoils of nights like those,
Home turning as a conqueror turns home,
What time green dawn down every street uprears
Arches of triumph! He has drained as well
Joy's perfumed bowl and cried as I have cried:
Be Fame their mistress whom Love passes by.
This only matters: from some flowery bed,
Laden with sweetness like a homing bee,
If one have known what bliss it is to come,
Bearing on hands and breast and laughing lips
The fragrance of his youth's dear rose. To him
The hills have bared their treasure, the far clouds
Unveiled the vision that o'er summer seas
Drew on his thirsting arms. This last thing known,
He can court danger, laugh at perilous odds,
And, pillowed on a memory so sweet,
Unto oblivious eternity
Without regret yield his victorious soul,
The blessed pilgrim of a vow fulfilled.
What is Success? Out of the endless ore
Of deep desire to coin the utmost gold
Of passionate memory; to have lived so well
That the fifth moon, when it swims up once more
Through orchard boughs where mating orioles build
And apple flowers unfold,
Find not of that dear need that all things tell
The heart unburdened nor the arms unfilled.
O Love, whereof my boyhood was the dream,
My youth the beautiful novitiate,
Life was so slight a thing and thou so great,
How could I make thee less than all-supreme!
In thy sweet transports not alone I thought
Mingled the twain that panted breast to breast.
The sun and stars throbbed with them; they were caught
Into the pulse of Nature and possessed
By the same light that consecrates it so.
Love! -- 'tis the payment of the debt we owe
The beauty of the world, and whensoe'er
In silks and perfume and unloosened hair
The loveliness of lovers, face to face,
Lies folded in the adorable embrace,
Doubt not as of a perfect sacrifice
That soul partakes whose inspiration fills
The springtime and the depth of summer skies,
The rainbow and the clouds behind the hills,
That excellence in earth and air and sea
That makes things as they are the real divinity.
An Ode To Antares
At dusk, when lowlands where dark waters glide
Robe in gray mist, and through the greening hills
The hoot-owl calls his mate, and whippoorwills
Clamor from every copse and orchard-side,
I watched the red star rising in the East,
And while his fellows of the flaming sign
From prisoning daylight more and more released,
Lift their pale lamps, and, climbing higher, higher,
Out of their locks the waters of the Line
Shaking in clouds of phosphorescent fire,
Rose in the splendor of their curving flight,
Their dolphin leap across the austral night,
From windows southward opening on the sea
What eyes, I wondered, might be watching, too,
Orbed in some blossom-laden balcony.
Where, from the garden to the rail above,
As though a lover's greeting to his love
Should borrow body and form and hue
And tower in torrents of floral flame,
The crimson bougainvillea grew,
What starlit brow uplifted to the same
Majestic regress of the summering sky,
What ultimate thing -- hushed, holy, throned as high
Above the currents that tarnish and profane
As silver summits are whose pure repose
No curious eyes disclose
Nor any footfalls stain,
But round their beauty on azure evenings
Only the oreads go on gauzy wings,
Only the oreads troop with dance and song
And airy beings in rainbow mists who throng
Out of those wonderful worlds that lie afar
Betwixt the outmost cloud and the nearest star.
Like the moon, sanguine in the orient night
Shines the red flower in her beautiful hair.
Her breasts are distant islands of delight
Upon a sea where all is soft and fair.
Those robes that make a silken sheath
For each lithe attitude that flows beneath,
Shrouding in scented folds sweet warmths and tumid flowers,
Call them far clouds that half emerge
Beyond a sunset ocean's utmost verge,
Hiding in purple shade and downpour of soft showers
Enchanted isles by mortal foot untrod,
And there in humid dells resplendent orchids nod;
There always from serene horizons blow
Soul-easing gales and there all spice-trees grow
That Phoenix robbed to line his fragrant nest
Each hundred years in Araby the Blest.
Star of the South that now through orient mist
At nightfall off Tampico or Belize
Greetest the sailor rising from those seas
Where first in me, a fond romanticist,
The tropic sunset's bloom on cloudy piles
Cast out industrious cares with dreams of fabulous isles --
Thou lamp of the swart lover to his tryst,
O'er planted acres at the jungle's rim
Reeking with orange-flower and tuberose,
Dear to his eyes thy ruddy splendor glows
Among the palms where beauty waits for him;
Bliss too thou bringst to our greening North,
Red scintillant through cherry-blossom rifts,
Herald of summer-heat, and all the gifts
And all the joys a summer can bring forth ----
Be thou my star, for I have made my aim
To follow loveliness till autumn-strown
Sunder the sinews of this flower-like frame
As rose-leaves sunder when the bud is blown.
Ay, sooner spirit and sense disintegrate
Than reconcilement to a common fate
Strip the enchantment from a world so dressed
In hues of high romance. I cannot rest
While aught of beauty in any path untrod
Swells into bloom and spreads sweet charms abroad
Unworshipped of my love. I cannot see
In Life's profusion and passionate brevity
How hearts enamored of life can strain too much
In one long tension to hear, to see, to touch.
Now on each rustling night-wind from the South
Far music calls; beyond the harbor mouth
Each outbound argosy with sail unfurled
May point the path through this fortuitous world
That holds the heart from its desire. Away!
Where tinted coast-towns gleam at close of day,
Where squares are sweet with bells, or shores thick set
With bloom and bower, with mosque and minaret.
Blue peaks loom up beyond the coast-plains here,
White roads wind up the dales and disappear,
By silvery waters in the plains afar
Glimmers the inland city like a star,
With gilded gates and sunny spires ablaze
And burnished domes half-seen through luminous haze,
Lo, with what opportunity Earth teems!
How like a fair its ample beauty seems!
Fluttering with flags its proud pavilions rise:
What bright bazaars, what marvelous merchandise,
Down seething alleys what melodious din,
What clamor importuning from every booth!
At Earth's great market where Joy is trafficked in
Buy while thy purse yet swells with golden Youth!
The Sultan's Palace
My spirit only lived to look on Beauty's face,
As only when they clasp the arms seem served aright;
As in their flesh inheres the impulse to embrace,
To gaze on Loveliness was my soul's appetite.
I have roamed far in search; white road and plunging bow
Were keys in the blue doors where my desire was set;
Obedient to their lure, my lips and laughing brow
The hill-showers and the spray of many seas have wet.
Hot are enamored hands, the fragrant zone unbound,
To leave no dear delight unfelt, unfondled o'er,
The will possessed my heart to girdle Earth around
With their insatiate need to wonder and adore.
The flowers in the fields, the surf upon the sands,
The sunset and the clouds it turned to blood and wine,
Were shreds of the thin veil behind whose beaded strands
A radiant visage rose, serene, august, divine.
A noise of summer wind astir in starlit trees,
A song where sensual love's delirium rose and fell,
Were rites that moved my soul more than the devotee's
When from the blazing choir rings out the altar bell.
I woke amid the pomp of a proud palace; writ
In tinted arabesque on walls that gems o'erlay,
The names of caliphs were who once held court in it,
Their baths and bowers were mine to dwell in for a day.
Their robes and rings were mine to draw from shimmering trays---
Brocades and broidered silks, topaz and tourmaline--
Their turban-cloths to wind in proud capricious ways,
And fasten plumes and pearls and pendent sapphires in.
I rose; far music drew my steps in fond pursuit
Down tessellated floors and towering peristyles:
Through groves of colonnades fair lamps were blushing fruit,
On seas of green mosaic soft rugs were flowery isles.
And there were verdurous courts that scalloped arches wreathed,
Where fountains plashed in bowls of lapis lazuli.
Through enigmatic doors voluptuous accents breathed,
And having Youth I had their Open Sesame.
I paused where shadowy walls were hung with cloths of gold,
And tinted twilight streamed through storied panes above.
In lamplit alcoves deep as flowers when they unfold
Soft cushions called to rest and fragrant fumes to love.
I hungered; at my hand delicious dainties teemed---
Fair pyramids of fruit; pastry in sugared piles.
I thirsted; in cool cups inviting vintage beamed---
Sweet syrups from the South; brown muscat from the isles.
I yearned for passionate Love; faint gauzes fell away.
Pillowed in rosy light I found my heart's desire.
Over the silks and down her florid beauty lay,
As over orient clouds the sunset's coral fire.
Joys that had smiled afar, a visionary form,
Behind the ranges hid, remote and rainbow-dyed,
Drew near unto my heart, a wonder soft and warm,
To touch, to stroke, to clasp, to sleep and wake beside.
Joy, that where summer seas and hot horizons shone
Had been the outspread arms I gave my youth to seek,
Drew near; awhile its pulse strove sweetly with my own,
Awhile I felt its breath astir upon my cheek.
I was so happy there; so fleeting was my stay,
What wonder if, assailed with vistas so divine,
I only lived to search and sample them the day
When between dawn and dusk the sultan's courts were mine !
Speak not of other worlds of happiness to be,
As though in any fond imaginary sphere
Lay more to tempt man's soul to immortality
Than ripens for his bliss abundant now and here!
Flowerlike I hope to die as flowerlike was my birth.
Rooted in Nature's just benignant law like them,
I want no better joys than those that from green Earth
My spirit's blossom drew through the sweet body's stem.
I see no dread in death, no horror to abhor.
I never thought it else than but to cease to dwell
Spectator, and resolve most naturally once more
Into the dearly loved eternal spectacle.
Unto the fields and flowers this flesh I found so fair
I yield; do you, dear friend, over your rose-crowned wine,
Murmur my name some day as though my lips were there,
And frame your mouth as though its blushing kiss were mine.
Yea, where the banquet-hall is brilliant with young men,
You whose bright youth it might have thrilled my breast to know,
Drink . . . and perhaps my lips, insatiate even then
Of lips to hang upon, may find their loved ones so.
Unto the flush of dawn and evening I commend
This immaterial self and flamelike part of me,---
Unto the azure haze that hangs at the world's end,
The sunshine on the hills, the starlight on the sea,---
Unto angelic Earth, whereof the lives of those
Who love and dream great dreams and deeply feel may be
The elemental cells and nervules that compose
Its divine consciousness and joy and harmony.
A Message To America
You have the grit and the guts, I know;
You are ready to answer blow for blow
You are virile, combative, stubborn, hard,
But your honor ends with your own back-yard;
Each man intent on his private goal,
You have no feeling for the whole;
What singly none would tolerate
You let unpunished hit the state,
Unmindful that each man must share
The stain he lets his country wear,
And (what no traveller ignores)
That her good name is often yours.
You are proud in the pride that feels its might;
From your imaginary height
Men of another race or hue
Are men of a lesser breed to you:
The neighbor at your southern gate
You treat with the scorn that has bred his hate.
To lend a spice to your disrespect
You call him the "greaser". But reflect!
The greaser has spat on you more than once;
He has handed you multiple affronts;
He has robbed you, banished you, burned and killed;
He has gone untrounced for the blood he spilled;
He has jeering used for his bootblack's rag
The stars and stripes of the gringo's flag;
And you, in the depths of your easy-chair --
What did you do, what did you care?
Did you find the season too cold and damp
To change the counter for the camp?
Were you frightened by fevers in Mexico?
I can't imagine, but this I know --
You are impassioned vastly more
By the news of the daily baseball score
Than to hear that a dozen countrymen
Have perished somewhere in Darien,
That greasers have taken their innocent lives
And robbed their holdings and raped their wives.
Not by rough tongues and ready fists
Can you hope to jilt in the modern lists.
The armies of a littler folk
Shall pass you under the victor's yoke,
Sobeit a nation that trains her sons
To ride their horses and point their guns --
Sobeit a people that comprehends
The limit where private pleasure ends
And where their public dues begin,
A people made strong by discipline
Who are willing to give -- what you've no mind to --
And understand -- what you are blind to --
The things that the individual
Must sacrifice for the good of all.
You have a leader who knows -- the man
Most fit to be called American,
A prophet that once in generations
Is given to point to erring nations
Brighter ideals toward which to press
And lead them out of the wilderness.
Will you turn your back on him once again?
Will you give the tiller once more to men
Who have made your country the laughing-stock
For the older peoples to scorn and mock,
Who would make you servile, despised, and weak,
A country that turns the other cheek,
Who care not how bravely your flag may float,
Who answer an insult with a note,
Whose way is the easy way in all,
And, seeing that polished arms appal
Their marrow of milk-fed pacifist,
Would tell you menace does not exist?
Are these, in the world's great parliament,
The men you would choose to represent
Your honor, your manhood, and your pride,
And the virtues your fathers dignified?
Oh, bury them deeper than the sea
In universal obloquy;
Forget the ground where they lie, or write
For epitaph: "Too proud to fight."
I have been too long from my country's shores
To reckon what state of mind is yours,
But as for myself I know right well
I would go through fire and shot and shell
And face new perils and make my bed
In new privations, if ROOSEVELT led;
But I have given my heart and hand
To serve, in serving another land,
Ideals kept bright that with you are dim;
Here men can thrill to their country's hymn,
For the passion that wells in the Marseillaise
Is the same that fires the French these days,
And, when the flag that they love goes by,
With swelling bosom and moistened eye
They can look, for they know that it floats there still
By the might of their hands and the strength of their will,
And through perils countless and trials unknown
Its honor each man has made his own.
They wanted the war no more than you,
But they saw how the certain menace grew,
And they gave two years of their youth or three
The more to insure their liberty
When the wrath of rifles and pennoned spears
Should roll like a flood on their wrecked frontiers.
They wanted the war no more than you,
But when the dreadful summons blew
And the time to settle the quarrel came
They sprang to their guns, each man was game;
And mark if they fight not to the last
For their hearths, their altars, and their past:
Yea, fight till their veins have been bled dry
For love of the country that WILL not die.
O friends, in your fortunate present ease
(Yet faced by the self-same facts as these),
If you would see how a race can soar
That has no love, but no fear, of war,
How each can turn from his private role
That all may act as a perfect whole,
How men can live up to the place they claim
And a nation, jealous of its good name,
Be true to its proud inheritance,
Oh, look over here and learn from FRANCE!
Translations: Dante - Inferno, Canto Xxvi
Florence, rejoice! For thou o'er land and sea
So spread'st thy pinions that the fame of thee
Hath reached no less into the depths of Hell.
So noble were the five I found to dwell
Therein -- thy sons -- whence shame accrues to me
And no great praise is thine; but if it be
That truth unveil in dreamings before dawn,
Then is the vengeful hour not far withdrawn
When Prato shall exult within her walls
To see thy suffering. Whate'er befalls,
Let it come soon, since come it must, for later,
Each year would see my grief for thee the greater.
We left; and once more up the craggy side
By the blind steps of our descent, my guide,
Remounting, drew me on. So we pursued
The rugged path through that steep solitude,
Where rocks and splintered fragments strewed the land
So thick, that foot availed not without hand.
Grief filled me then, and still great sorrow stirs
My heart as oft as memory recurs
To what I saw; that more and more I rein
My natural powers, and curb them lest they strain
Where Virtue guide not, -- that if some good star,
Or better thing, have made them what they are,
That good I may not grudge, nor turn to ill.
As when, reclining on some verdant hill --
What season the hot sun least veils his power
That lightens all, and in that gloaming hour
The fly resigns to the shrill gnat -- even then,
As rustic, looking down, sees, o'er the glen,
Vineyard, or tilth where lies his husbandry,
Fireflies innumerable sparkle: so to me,
Come where its mighty depth unfolded, straight
With flames no fewer seemed to scintillate
The shades of the eighth pit. And as to him
Whose wrongs the bears avenged, dim and more dim
Elijah's chariot seemed, when to the skies
Uprose the heavenly steeds; and still his eyes
Strained, following them, till naught remained in view
But flame, like a thin cloud against the blue:
So here, the melancholy gulf within,
Wandered these flames, concealing each its sin,
Yet each, a fiery integument,
Wrapped round a sinner.
On the bridge intent,
Gazing I stood, and grasped its flinty side,
Or else, unpushed, had fallen. And my guide,
Observing me so moved, spake, saying: "Behold
Where swathed each in his unconsuming fold,
The spirits lie confined." Whom answering,
"Master," I said, "thy words assurance bring
To that which I already had supposed;
And I was fain to ask who lies enclosed
In the embrace of that dividing fire,
Which seems to curl above the fabled pyre,
Where with his twin-born brother, fiercely hated,
Eteocles was laid." He answered, "Mated
In punishment as once in wrath they were,
Ulysses there and Diomed incur
The eternal pains; there groaning they deplore
The ambush of the horse, which made the door
For Rome's imperial seed to issue: there
In anguish too they wail the fatal snare
Whence dead Deidamia still must grieve,
Reft of Achilles; likewise they receive
Due penalty for the Palladium."
"Master," I said, "if in that martyrdom
The power of human speech may still be theirs,
I pray -- and think it worth a thousand prayers --
That, till this horned flame be come more nigh,
We may abide here; for thou seest that I
With great desire incline to it." And he:
"Thy prayer deserves great praise; which willingly
I grant; but thou refrain from speaking; leave
That task to me; for fully I conceive
What thing thou wouldst, and it might fall perchance
That these, being Greeks, would scorn thine utterance."
So when the flame had come where time and place
Seemed not unfitting to my guide with grace
To question, thus he spoke at my desire:
"O ye that are two souls within one fire,
If in your eyes some merit I have won --
Merit, or more or less -- for tribute done
When in the world I framed my lofty verse:
Move not; but fain were we that one rehearse
By what strange fortunes to his death he came."
The elder crescent of the antique flame
Began to wave, as in the upper air
A flame is tempest-tortured, here and there
Tossing its angry height, and in its sound
As human speech it suddenly had found,
Rolled forth a voice of thunder, saying: "When,
The twelvemonth past in Circe's halls, again
I left Gaeta's strand (ere thither came
Aeneas, and had given it that name)
Not love of son, nor filial reverence,
Nor that affection that might recompense
The weary vigil of Penelope,
Could so far quench the hot desire in me
To prove more wonders of the teeming earth, --
Of human frailty and of manly worth.
In one small bark, and with the faithful band
That all awards had shared of Fortune's hand,
I launched once more upon the open main.
Both shores I visited as far as Spain, --
Sardinia, and Morocco, and what more
The midland sea upon its bosom wore.
The hour of our lives was growing late
When we arrived before that narrow strait
Where Hercules had set his bounds to show
That there Man's foot shall pause, and further none shall go.
Borne with the gale past Seville on the right,
And on the left now swept by Ceuta's site,
`Brothers,' I cried, `that into the far West
Through perils numberless are now addressed,
In this brief respite that our mortal sense
Yet hath, shrink not from new experience;
But sailing still against the setting sun,
Seek we new worlds where Man has never won
Before us. Ponder your proud destinies:
Born were ye not like brutes for swinish ease,
But virtue and high knowledge to pursue.'
My comrades with such zeal did I imbue
By these brief words, that scarcely could I then
Have turned them from their purpose; so again
We set out poop against the morning sky,
And made our oars as wings wherewith to fly
Into the Unknown. And ever from the right
Our course deflecting, in the balmy night
All southern stars we saw, and ours so low,
That scarce above the sea-marge it might show.
So five revolving periods the soft,
Pale light had robbed of Cynthia, and as oft
Replenished since our start, when far and dim
Over the misty ocean's utmost rim,
Rose a great mountain, that for very height
Passed any I had seen. Boundless delight
Filled us -- alas, and quickly turned to dole:
For, springing from our scarce-discovered goal,
A whirlwind struck the ship; in circles three
It whirled us helpless in the eddying sea;
High on the fourth the fragile stern uprose,
The bow drove down, and, as Another chose,
Over our heads we heard the surging billows close."
Juvenilia, An Ode To Natural Beauty
There is a power whose inspiration fills
Nature's fair fabric, sun- and star-inwrought,
Like airy dew ere any drop distils,
Like perfume in the laden flower, like aught
Unseen which interfused throughout the whole
Becomes its quickening pulse and principle and soul.
Now when, the drift of old desire renewing,
Warm tides flow northward over valley and field,
When half-forgotten sound and scent are wooing
From their deep-chambered recesses long sealed
Such memories as breathe once more
Of childhood and the happy hues it wore,
Now, with a fervor that has never been
In years gone by, it stirs me to respond, --
Not as a force whose fountains are within
The faculties of the percipient mind,
Subject with them to darkness and decay,
But something absolute, something beyond,
Oft met like tender orbs that seem to peer
From pale horizons, luminous behind
Some fringe of tinted cloud at close of day;
And in this flood of the reviving year,
When to the loiterer by sylvan streams,
Deep in those cares that make Youth loveliest,
Nature in every common aspect seems
To comment on the burden in his breast --
The joys he covets and the dreams he dreams --
One then with all beneath the radiant skies
That laughs with him or sighs,
It courses through the lilac-scented air,
A blessing on the fields, a wonder everywhere.
Spirit of Beauty, whose sweet impulses,
Flung like the rose of dawn across the sea,
Alone can flush the exalted consciousness
With shafts of sensible divinity --
Light of the World, essential loveliness:
Him whom the Muse hath made thy votary
Not from her paths and gentle precepture
Shall vulgar ends engage, nor break the spell
That taught him first to feel thy secret charms
And o'er the earth, obedient to their lure,
Their sweet surprise and endless miracle,
To follow ever with insatiate arms.
On summer afternoons,
When from the blue horizon to the shore,
Casting faint silver pathways like the moon's
Across the Ocean's glassy, mottled floor,
Far clouds uprear their gleaming battlements
Drawn to the crest of some bleak eminence,
When autumn twilight fades on the sere hill
And autumn winds are still;
To watch the East for some emerging sign,
Wintry Capella or the Pleiades
Or that great huntsman with the golden gear;
Ravished in hours like these
Before thy universal shrine
To feel the invoked presence hovering near,
He stands enthusiastic. Star-lit hours
Spent on the roads of wandering solitude
Have set their sober impress on his brow,
And he, with harmonies of wind and wood
And torrent and the tread of mountain showers,
Has mingled many a dedicative vow
That holds him, till thy last delight be known,
Bound in thy service and in thine alone.
I, too, among the visionary throng
Who choose to follow where thy pathway leads,
Have sold my patrimony for a song,
And donned the simple, lowly pilgrim's weeds.
From that first image of beloved walls,
Deep-bowered in umbrage of ancestral trees,
Where earliest thy sweet enchantment falls,
Tingeing a child's fantastic reveries
With radiance so fair it seems to be
Of heavens just lost the lingering evidence
From that first dawn of roseate infancy,
So long beneath thy tender influence
My breast has thrilled. As oft for one brief second
The veil through which those infinite offers beckoned
Has seemed to tremble, letting through
Some swift intolerable view
Of vistas past the sense of mortal seeing,
So oft, as one whose stricken eyes might see
In ferny dells the rustic deity,
I stood, like him, possessed, and all my being,
Flooded an instant with unwonted light,
Quivered with cosmic passion; whether then
On woody pass or glistening mountain-height
I walked in fellowship with winds and clouds,
Whether in cities and the throngs of men,
A curious saunterer through friendly crowds,
Enamored of the glance in passing eyes,
Unuttered salutations, mute replies, --
In every character where light of thine
Has shed on earthly things the hue of things divine
I sought eternal Loveliness, and seeking,
If ever transport crossed my brow bespeaking
Such fire as a prophetic heart might feel
Where simple worship blends in fervent zeal,
It was the faith that only love of thee
Needed in human hearts for Earth to see
Surpassed the vision poets have held dear
Of joy diffused in most communion here;
That whomsoe'er thy visitations warmed,
Lover of thee in all thy rays informed,
Needed no difficulter discipline
To seek his right to happiness within
Than, sensible of Nature's loveliness,
To yield him to the generous impulses
By such a sentiment evoked. The thought,
Bright Spirit, whose illuminings I sought,
That thou unto thy worshipper might be
An all-sufficient law, abode with me,
Importing something more than unsubstantial dreams
To vigils by lone shores and walks by murmuring streams.
Youth's flowers like childhood's fade and are forgot.
Fame twines a tardy crown of yellowing leaves.
How swift were disillusion, were it not
That thou art steadfast where all else deceives!
Solace and Inspiration, Power divine
That by some mystic sympathy of thine,
When least it waits and most hath need of thee,
Can startle the dull spirit suddenly
With grandeur welled from unsuspected springs, --
Long as the light of fulgent evenings,
When from warm showers the pearly shades disband
And sunset opens o'er the humid land,
Shows thy veiled immanence in orient skies, --
Long as pale mist and opalescent dyes
Hung on far isle or vanishing mountain-crest,
Fields of remote enchantment can suggest
So sweet to wander in it matters nought,
They hold no place but in impassioned thought,
Long as one draught from a clear sky may be
A scented luxury;
Be thou my worship, thou my sole desire,
Thy paths my pilgrimage, my sense a lyre
Aeolian for thine every breath to stir;
Oft when her full-blown periods recur,
To see the birth of day's transparent moon
Far from cramped walls may fading afternoon
Find me expectant on some rising lawn;
Often depressed in dewy grass at dawn,
Me, from sweet slumber underneath green boughs,
Ere the stars flee may forest matins rouse,
Afoot when the great sun in amber floods
Pours horizontal through the steaming woods
And windless fumes from early chimneys start
And many a cock-crow cheers the traveller's heart
Eager for aught the coming day afford
In hills untopped and valleys unexplored.
Give me the white road into the world's ends,
Lover of roadside hazard, roadside friends,
Loiterer oft by upland farms to gaze
On ample prospects, lost in glimmering haze
At noon, or where down odorous dales twilit,
Filled with low thundering of the mountain stream,
Over the plain where blue seas border it
The torrid coast-towns gleam.
I have fared too far to turn back now; my breast
Burns with the lust for splendors unrevealed,
Stars of midsummer, clouds out of the west,
Pallid horizons, winds that valley and field
Laden with joy, be ye my refuge still!
What though distress and poverty assail!
Though other voices chide, yours never will.
The grace of a blue sky can never fail.
Powers that my childhood with a spell so sweet,
My youth with visions of such glory nursed,
Ye have beheld, nor ever seen my feet
On any venture set, but 'twas the thirst
For Beauty willed them, yea, whatever be
The faults I wanted wings to rise above;
I am cheered yet to think how steadfastly
I have been loyal to the love of Love!
First, London, for its myriads; for its height,
Manhattan heaped in towering stalagmite;
But Paris for the smoothness of the paths
That lead the heart unto the heart's delight. . . .
Fair loiterer on the threshold of those days
When there's no lovelier prize the world displays
Than, having beauty and your twenty years,
You have the means to conquer and the ways,
And coming where the crossroads separate
And down each vista glories and wonders wait,
Crowning each path with pinnacles so fair
You know not which to choose, and hesitate --
Oh, go to Paris. . . . In the midday gloom
Of some old quarter take a little room
That looks off over Paris and its towers
From Saint Gervais round to the Emperor's Tomb, --
So high that you can hear a mating dove
Croon down the chimney from the roof above,
See Notre Dame and know how sweet it is
To wake between Our Lady and our love.
And have a little balcony to bring
Fair plants to fill with verdure and blossoming,
That sparrows seek, to feed from pretty hands,
And swallows circle over in the Spring.
There of an evening you shall sit at ease
In the sweet month of flowering chestnut-trees,
There with your little darling in your arms,
Your pretty dark-eyed Manon or Louise.
And looking out over the domes and towers
That chime the fleeting quarters and the hours,
While the bright clouds banked eastward back of them
Blush in the sunset, pink as hawthorn flowers,
You cannot fail to think, as I have done,
Some of life's ends attained, so you be one
Who measures life's attainment by the hours
That Joy has rescued from oblivion.
Come out into the evening streets. The green light lessens in the west.
The city laughs and liveliest her fervid pulse of pleasure beats.
The belfry on Saint Severin strikes eight across the smoking eaves:
Come out under the lights and leaves
to the Reine Blanche on Saint Germain. . . .
Now crowded diners fill the floor of brasserie and restaurant.
Shrill voices cry "L'Intransigeant," and corners echo "Paris-Sport."
Where rows of tables from the street are screened with shoots of box and bay,
The ragged minstrels sing and play and gather sous from those that eat.
And old men stand with menu-cards, inviting passers-by to dine
On the bright terraces that line the Latin Quarter boulevards. . . .
But, having drunk and eaten well, 'tis pleasant then to stroll along
And mingle with the merry throng that promenades on Saint Michel.
Here saunter types of every sort. The shoddy jostle with the chic:
Turk and Roumanian and Greek; student and officer and sport;
Slavs with their peasant, Christ-like heads,
and courtezans like powdered moths,
And peddlers from Algiers, with cloths
bright-hued and stitched with golden threads;
And painters with big, serious eyes go rapt in dreams, fantastic shapes
In corduroys and Spanish capes and locks uncut and flowing ties;
And lovers wander two by two, oblivious among the press,
And making one of them no less, all lovers shall be dear to you:
All laughing lips you move among, all happy hearts that, knowing what
Makes life worth while, have wasted not the sweet reprieve of being young.
"Comment ca va!" "Mon vieux!" "Mon cher!"
Friends greet and banter as they pass.
'Tis sweet to see among the mass comrades and lovers everywhere,
A law that's sane, a Love that's free, and men of every birth and blood
Allied in one great brotherhood of Art and Joy and Poverty. . . .
The open cafe-windows frame loungers at their liqueurs and beer,
And walking past them one can hear fragments of Tosca and Boheme.
And in the brilliant-lighted door of cinemas the barker calls,
And lurid posters paint the walls with scenes of Love and crime and war.
But follow past the flaming lights, borne onward with the stream of feet,
Where Bullier's further up the street is marvellous on Thursday nights.
Here all Bohemia flocks apace; you could not often find elsewhere
So many happy heads and fair assembled in one time and place.
Under the glare and noise and heat the galaxy of dancing whirls,
Smokers, with covered heads, and girls dressed in the costume of the street.
From tables packed around the wall the crowds that drink and frolic there
Spin serpentines into the air far out over the reeking hall,
That, settling where the coils unroll, tangle with pink and green and blue
The crowds that rag to "Hitchy-koo" and boston to the "Barcarole". . . .
Here Mimi ventures, at fifteen, to make her debut in romance,
And join her sisters in the dance and see the life that they have seen.
Her hair, a tight hat just allows to brush beneath the narrow brim,
Docked, in the model's present whim, `frise' and banged above the brows.
Uncorseted, her clinging dress with every step and turn betrays,
In pretty and provoking ways her adolescent loveliness,
As guiding Gaby or Lucile she dances, emulating them
In each disturbing stratagem and each lascivious appeal.
Each turn a challenge, every pose an invitation to compete,
Along the maze of whirling feet the grave-eyed little wanton goes,
And, flaunting all the hue that lies in childish cheeks and nubile waist,
She passes, charmingly unchaste, illumining ignoble eyes. . . .
But now the blood from every heart leaps madder through abounding veins
As first the fascinating strains of "El Irresistible" start.
Caught in the spell of pulsing sound, impatient elbows lift and yield
The scented softnesses they shield to arms that catch and close them round,
Surrender, swift to be possessed, the silken supple forms beneath
To all the bliss the measures breathe and all the madness they suggest.
Crowds congregate and make a ring. Four deep they stand and strain to see
The tango in its ecstasy of glowing lives that clasp and cling.
Lithe limbs relaxed, exalted eyes fastened on vacancy, they seem
To float upon the perfumed stream of some voluptuous Paradise,
Or, rapt in some Arabian Night, to rock there, cradled and subdued,
In a luxurious lassitude of rhythm and sensual delight.
And only when the measures cease and terminate the flowing dance
They waken from their magic trance and join the cries that clamor "Bis!" . . .
Midnight adjourns the festival. The couples climb the crowded stair,
And out into the warm night air go singing fragments of the ball.
Close-folded in desire they pass, or stop to drink and talk awhile
In the cafes along the mile from Bullier's back to Montparnasse:
The "Closerie" or "La Rotonde", where smoking, under lamplit trees,
Sit Art's enamored devotees, chatting across their `brune' and `blonde'. . . .
Make one of them and come to know sweet Paris -- not as many do,
Seeing but the folly of the few, the froth, the tinsel, and the show --
But taking some white proffered hand that from Earth's barren every day
Can lead you by the shortest way into Love's florid fairyland.
And that divine enchanted life that lurks under Life's common guise --
That city of romance that lies within the City's toil and strife --
Shall, knocking, open to your hands, for Love is all its golden key,
And one's name murmured tenderly the only magic it demands.
And when all else is gray and void in the vast gulf of memory,
Green islands of delight shall be all blessed moments so enjoyed:
When vaulted with the city skies, on its cathedral floors you stood,
And, priest of a bright brotherhood, performed the mystic sacrifice,
At Love's high altar fit to stand, with fire and incense aureoled,
The celebrant in cloth of gold with Spring and Youth on either hand.
Have ye gazed on its grandeur
Or stood where it stands
With opal and amber
Adorning the lands,
And orcharded domes
Of the hue of all flowers?
Sweet melody roams
Through its blossoming bowers,
Sweet bells usher in from its belfries the train of the honey-sweet hour.
A city resplendent,
Fulfilled of good things,
On its ramparts are pendent
The bucklers of kings.
Broad banners unfurled
Are afloat in its air.
The lords of the world
Look for harborage there.
None finds save he comes as a bridegroom, having roses and vine in his hair.
'Tis the city of Lovers,
There many paths meet.
Blessed he above others,
With faltering feet,
Who past its proud spires
Intends not nor hears
The noise of its lyres
Grow faint in his ears!
Men reach it through portals of triumph, but leave through a postern of tears.
It was thither, ambitious,
We came for Youth's right,
When our lips yearned for kisses
As moths for the light,
When our souls cried for Love
As for life-giving rain
Wan leaves of the grove,
Withered grass of the plain,
And our flesh ached for Love-flesh beside it with bitter, intolerable pain.
Under arbor and trellis,
Full of flutes, full of flowers,
What mad fortunes befell us,
What glad orgies were ours!
In the days of our youth,
In our festal attire,
When the sweet flesh was smooth,
When the swift blood was fire,
And all Earth paid in orange and purple to pavilion the bed of Desire!
The Deserted Garden
I know a village in a far-off land
Where from a sunny, mountain-girdled plain
With tinted walls a space on either hand
And fed by many an olive-darkened lane
The high-road mounts, and thence a silver band
Through vineyard slopes above and rolling grain,
Winds off to that dim corner of the skies
Where behind sunset hills a stately city lies.
Here, among trees whose overhanging shade
Strews petals on the little droves below,
Pattering townward in the morning weighed
With greens from many an upland garden-row,
Runs an old wall; long centuries have frayed
Its scalloped edge, and passers to and fro
Heard never from beyond its crumbling height
Sweet laughter ring at noon or plaintive song at night.
But here where little lizards bask and blink
The tendrils of the trumpet-vine have run,
At whose red bells the humming bird to drink
Stops oft before his garden feast is done;
And rose-geraniums, with that tender pink
That cloud-banks borrow from the setting sun,
Have covered part of this old wall, entwined
With fair plumbago, blue as evening heavens behind.
And crowning other parts the wild white rose
Rivals the honey-suckle with the bees.
Above the old abandoned orchard shows
And all within beneath the dense-set trees,
Tall and luxuriant the rank grass grows,
That settled in its wavy depth one sees
Grass melt in leaves, the mossy trunks between,
Down fading avenues of implicated green;
Wherein no lack of flowers the verdurous night
With stars and pearly nebula o'erlay;
Azalea-boughs half rosy and half white
Shine through the green and clustering apple-spray,
Such as the fairy-queen before her knight
Waved in old story, luring him away
Where round lost isles Hesperian billows break
Or towers loom up beneath the clear, translucent lake;
And under the deep grass blue hare-bells hide,
And myrtle plots with dew-fall ever wet,
Gay tiger-lilies flammulate and pied,
Sometime on pathway borders neatly set,
Now blossom through the brake on either side,
Where heliotrope and weedy mignonette,
With vines in bloom and flower-bearing trees,
Mingle their incense all to swell the perfumed breeze,
That sprung like Hermes from his natal cave
In some blue rampart of the curving West,
Comes up the valleys where green cornfields wave,
Ravels the cloud about the mountain crest,
Breathes on the lake till gentle ripples pave
Its placid floor; at length a long-loved guest,
He steals across this plot of pleasant ground,
Waking the vocal leaves to a sweet vernal sound.
Here many a day right gladly have I sped,
Content amid the wavy plumes to lie,
And through the woven branches overhead
Watch the white, ever-wandering clouds go by,
And soaring birds make their dissolving bed
Far in the azure depths of summer sky,
Or nearer that small huntsman of the air,
The fly-catcher, dart nimbly from his leafy lair;
Pillowed at case to hear the merry tune
Of mating warblers in the boughs above
And shrill cicadas whom the hottest noon
Keeps not from drowsy song; the mourning dove
Pours down the murmuring grove his plaintive croon
That like the voice of visionary love
Oft have I risen to seek through this green maze
(Even as my feet thread now the great world's garden-ways);
And, parting tangled bushes as I passed
Down beechen allies beautiful and dim,
Perhaps by some deep-shaded pool at last
My feet would pause, where goldfish poise and swim,
And snowy callas' velvet cups are massed
Around the mossy, fern-encircled brim.
Here, then, that magic summoning would cease,
Or sound far off again among the orchard trees.
And here where the blanched lilies of the vale
And violets and yellow star-flowers teem,
And pink and purple hyacinths exhale
Their heavy fume, once more to drowse and dream
My head would sink, from many an olden tale
Drawing imagination's fervid theme,
Or haply peopling this enchanting spot
Only with fair creations of fantastic thought.
For oft I think, in years long since gone by,
That gentle hearts dwelt here and gentle hands
Stored all this bowery bliss to beautify
The paradise of some unsung romance;
Here, safe from all except the loved one's eye,
'Tis sweet to think white limbs were wont to glance,
Well pleased to wanton like the flowers and share
Their simple loveliness with the enamored air.
Thrice dear to them whose votive fingers decked
The altars of First Love were these green ways,
These lawns and verdurous brakes forever flecked
With the warm sunshine of midsummer days;
Oft where the long straight allies intersect
And marble seats surround the open space,
Where a tiled pool and sculptured fountain stand,
Hath Evening found them seated, silent, hand in hand.
When twilight deepened, in the gathering shade
Beneath that old titanic cypress row,
Whose sombre vault and towering colonnade
Dwarfed the enfolded forms that moved below,
Oft with close steps these happy lovers strayed,
Till down its darkening aisle the sunset glow
Grew less and patterning the garden floor
Faint flakes of filtering moonlight mantled more and more.
And the strange tempest that a touch imparts
Through the mid fibre of the molten frame,
When the sweet flesh in early youth asserts
Its heyday verve and little hints enflame,
Disturbed them as they walked; from their full hearts
Welled the soft word, and many a tender name
Strove on their lips as breast to breast they strained
And the deep joy they drank seemed never, never drained.
Love's soul that is the depth of starry skies
Set in the splendor of one upturned face
To beam adorably through half-closed eyes;
Love's body where the breadth of summer days
And all the beauty earth and air comprise
Come to the compass of an arm's embrace,
To burn a moment on impassioned lips
And yield intemperate joy to quivering finger-tips,
They knew; and here where morning-glories cling
Round carven forms of carefullest artifice,
They made a bower where every outward thing
Should comment on the cause of their own bliss;
With flowers of liveliest hue encompassing
That flower that the beloved body is
That rose that for the banquet of Love's bee
Has budded all the æons of past eternity.
But their choice seat was where the garden wall,
Crowning a little summit, far and near,
Looks over tufted treetops onto all
The pleasant outer country; rising here
From rustling foliage where cuckoos call
On summer evenings, stands a belvedere,
Buff-hued, of antique plaster, overrun
With flowering vines and weatherworn by rain and sun.
Still round the turrets of this antique tower
The bougainvillea hangs a crimson crown,
Wistaria-vines and clematis in flower,
Wreathing the lower surface further down,
Hide the old plaster in a very shower
Of motley blossoms like a broidered gown.
Outside, ascending from the garden grove,
A crumbling stairway winds to the one room above.
And whoso mounts by this dismantled stair
Finds the old pleasure-hall, long disarrayed,
Brick-tiled and raftered, and the walls foursquare
Ringed all about with a twofold arcade.
Backward dense branches intercept the glare
Of afternoon with eucalyptus shade;
Eastward the level valley-plains expand,
Sweet as a queen's survey of her own Fairyland.
For through that frame the ivied arches make,
Wide tracts of sunny midland charm the eye,
Frequent with hamlet grove, and lucent lake
Where the blue hills' inverted contours lie;
Far to the east where billowy mountains break
In surf of snow against a sapphire sky,
Huge thunderheads loom up behind the ranges,
Changing from gold to pink as deepening sunset changes;
And over plain and far sierra spread
The fulgent rays of fading afternoon,
Showing each utmost peak and watershed
All clarified, each tassel and festoon
Of floating cloud embroidered overhead,
Like lotus-leaves on bluest waters strewn,
Flushing with rose, while all breathes fresh and free
In peace and amplitude and bland tranquillity.
Dear were such evenings to this gentle pair;
Love's tide that launched on with a blast too strong
Sweeps toward the foaming reef, the hidden snare,
Baffling with fond illusion's siren-song,
Too faint, on idle shoals, to linger there
Far from Youth's glowing dream, bore them along,
With purple sail and steered by seraph hands
To isles resplendent in the sunset of romance.
And out of this old house a flowery fane,
A bridal bower, a pearly pleasure-dome,
They built, and furnished it with gold and grain,
And bade all spirits of beauty hither come,
And wingéd Love to enter with his train
And bless their pillow, and in this his home
Make them his priests as Hero was of yore
In her sweet girlhood by the blue Dardanian shore.
Tree-ferns, therefore, and potted palms they brought,
Tripods and urns in rare and curious taste,
Polychrome chests and cabinets inwrought
With pearl and ivory etched and interlaced;
Pendant brocades with massive braid were caught,
And chain-slung, oriental lamps so placed
To light the lounger on some low divan,
Sunken in swelling down and silks from Hindustan.
And there was spread, upon the ample floors,
Work of the Levantine's laborious loom,
Such as by Euxine or Ionian shores
Carpets the dim seraglio's scented gloom.
Each morn renewed, the garden's flowery stores
Blushed in fair vases, ochre and peach-bloom,
And little birds through wicker doors left wide
Flew in to trill a space from the green world outside.
And there was many a dainty attitude,
Bronze and eburnean. All but disarrayed,
Here in eternal doubt sweet Psyche stood
Fain of the bath's delight, yet still afraid
Lest aught in that palatial solitude
Lurked of most menace to a helpless maid.
Therefore forever faltering she stands,
Nor yet the last loose fold slips rippling from her hands.
Close by upon a beryl column, clad
In the fresh flower of adolescent grace,
They set the dear Bithynian shepherd lad,
The nude Antinous. That gentle face,
Forever beautiful, forever sad,
Shows but one aspect, moon-like, to our gaze,
Yet Fancy pictures how those lips could smile
At revelries in Rome, and banquets on the Nile.
And there were shapes of Beauty myriads more,
Clustering their rosy bridal bed around,
Whose scented breadth a silken fabric wore
Broidered with peacock hues on creamiest ground,
Fit to have graced the barge that Cydnus bore
Or Venus' bed in her enchanted mound,
While pillows swelled in stuffs of Orient dyes,
All broidered with strange fruits and birds of Paradise.
'Twas such a bower as Youth has visions of,
Thither with one fair spirit to retire,
Lie upon rose-leaves, sleep and wake with Love
And feast on kisses to the heart's desire;
Where by a casement opening on a grove,
Wide to the wood-winds and the sweet birds' choir,
A girl might stand and gaze into green boughs,
Like Credhe at the window of her golden house.
Or most like Vivien, the enchanting fay,
Where with her friend, in the strange tower they planned,
She lies and dreams eternity away,
Above the treetops in Broceliande,
Sometimes at twilight when the woods are gray
And wolf-packs howl far out across the lande,
Waking to love, while up behind the trees
The large midsummer moon lifts-even so loved these.
For here, their pleasure was to come and sit
Oft when the sun sloped midway to the west,
Watching with sweet enjoyment interknit
The long light slant across the green earth's breast,
And clouds upon the ranges opposite,
Rolled up into a gleaming thundercrest,
Topple and break and fall in purple rain,
And mist of summer showers trail out across the plain.
Whereon the shafts of ardent light, far-flung
Across the luminous azure overhead,
Ofttimes in arcs of transient beauty hung
The fragmentary rainbow's green and red.
Joy it was here to love and to be young,
To watch the sun sink to his western bed,
And streaming back out of their flaming core
The vesperal aurora's glorious banners soar.
Tinging each altitude of heaven in turn,
Those fiery rays would sweep. The cumuli
That peeped above the mountain-tops would burn
Carmine a space; the cirrus-whorls on high,
More delicate than sprays of maiden fern,
Streak with pale rose the peacock-breasted sky,
Then blanch. As water-lilies fold at night,
Sank back into themselves those plumes of fervid light.
And they would watch the first faint stars appear,
The blue East blend with the blue hills below,
As lovers when their shuddering bliss draws near
Into one pulse of fluid rapture grow.
New fragrance on the freshening atmosphere
Would steal with evening, and the sunset glow
Draw deeper down into the wondrous west
Round vales of Proserpine and islands of the blest.
So dusk would come and mingle lake and shore,
The snow-peaks fade to frosty, opaline,
To pearl the doméd clouds the mountains bore,
Where late the sun's effulgent fire had been
Showing as darkness deepened more and more
The incandescent lightnings flare within,
And Night that furls the lily in the glen
And twines impatient arms would fall, and then---and then . . .
Sometimes the peasant, coming late from town
With empty panniers on his little drove
Past the old lookout when the Northern Crown
Glittered with Cygnus through the scented grove,
Would hear soft noise of lute-strings wafted down
And voices singing through the leaves above
Those songs that well from the warm heart that woos
At balconies in Merida or Vera Cruz.
And he would pause under the garden wall,
Caught in the spell of that voluptuous strain,
With all the sultry South in it, and all
Its importunity of love and pain;
And he would wait till the last passionate fall
Died on the night, and all was still again.
Then to his upland village wander home,
Marvelling whence that flood of elfin song might come.
O lyre that Love's white holy hands caress,
Youth, from thy bosom welled their passionate lays
Sweet opportunity for happiness
So brief, so passing beautiful---O days,
When to the heart's divine indulgences
All earth in smiling ministration pays
Thine was the source whose plenitude, past over,
What prize shall rest to pluck, what secret to discover!
The wake of color that follows her when May
Walks on the hills loose-haired and daisy-crowned,
The deep horizons of a summer's day,
Fair cities, and the pleasures that abound
Where music calls, and crowds in bright array
Gather by night to find and to be found;
What were these worth or all delightful things
Without thine eyes to read their true interpretings!
For thee the mountains open glorious gates,
To thee white arms put out from orient skies,
Earth, like a jewelled bride for one she waits,
Decks but to be delicious in thine eyes,
Thou guest of honor for one day, whose fêtes
Eternity has travailed to devise;
Ah, grace them well in the brief hour they last!
Another's turn prepares, another follows fast.
Yet not without one fond memorial
Let my sun set who found the world so fair!
Frail verse, when Time the singer's coronal
Has rent, and stripped the rose-leaves from his hair,
Be thou my tablet on the temple wall!
Among the pious testimonials there,
Witness how sweetly on my heart as well
The miracles of dawn and starry evening fell!
Speak of one then who had the lust to feel,
And, from the hues that far horizons take,
And cloud and sunset, drank the wild appeal,
Too deep to live for aught but life's sweet sake,
Whose only motive was the will to kneel
Where Beauty's purest benediction spake,
Who only coveted what grove and field
And sunshine and green Earth and tender arms could yield---
A nympholept, through pleasant days and drear
Seeking his faultless adolescent dream,
A pilgrim down the paths that disappear
In mist and rainbows on the world's extreme,
A helpless voyager who all too near
The mouth of Life's fair flower-bordered stream,
Clutched at Love's single respite in his need
More than the drowning swimmer clutches at a reed---
That coming one whose feet in other days
Shall bleed like mine for ever having, more
Than any purpose, felt the need to praise
And seek the angelic image to adore,
In love with Love, its wonderful, sweet ways
Counting what most makes life worth living for,
That so some relic may be his to see
How I loved these things too and they were dear to me.
I sometimes think a conscious happiness
Mantles through all the rose's sentient vine
When summer winds with myriad calyces
Of bloom its clambering height incarnadine;
I sometimes think that cleaving lips, no less,
And limbs that crowned desires at length entwine
Are nerves through which that being drinks delight,
Whose frame is the green Earth robed round with day and night.
And such were theirs: the traveller without,
Pausing at night under the orchard trees,
Wondered and crossed himself in holy doubt,
For through their song and in the murmuring breeze
It seemed angelic choirs were all about
Mingling in universal harmonies,
As though, responsive to the chords they woke,
All Nature into sweet epithalamium broke.
And still they think a spirit haunts the place:
'Tis said, when Night has drawn her jewelled pall
And through the branches twinkling fireflies trace
Their mimic constellations, if it fall
That one should see the moon rise through the lace
Of blossomy boughs above the garden wall,
That surely would he take great ill thereof
And famish in a fit of unexpressive love.
But this I know not, for what time the wain
Was loosened and the lily's petal furled,
Then I would rise, climb the old wall again,
And pausing look forth on the sundown world,
Scan the wide reaches of the wondrous plain,
The hamlet sites where settling smoke lay curled,
The poplar-bordered roads, and far away
Fair snowpeaks colored with the sun's last ray.
Waves of faint sound would pulsate from afar
Faint song and preludes of the summer night;
Deep in the cloudless west the evening star
Hung 'twixt the orange and the emerald light;
From the dark vale where shades crepuscular
Dimmed the old grove-girt belfry glimmering white,
Throbbing, as gentlest breezes rose or fell,
Came the sweet invocation of the evening bell.