ALL day within me, sweet and clear
The song you sang is ringing.
At night in my half-dreaming ear
I hear you singing, singing.
Ere thought takes up its homespun thread
When early morn is breaking,
Sweet snatches hover round my bed
And cheer me when awaking.
The sunrise brings the melody
I only half remember,
And summer seems to smile for me,
Although it is December.
Through drifting snow, through dropping rain,
Through gusts of wind, it haunts me.
The tantalizing old refrain
Perplexes, yet enchants me.
The mystic chords that bore along
Your voice so calmly splendid,
In glimmering fragments with the song
Are joined and vaguely blended.
I touch my instrument and grope
Along the keys' confusion,
And dally with the chords in hopes
To catch the sweet illusion.
In vain of that consummate hour
I court the full completeness,
The perfume of the hidden flower,
The perfect bloom and sweetness.
Of strains that were too rich to last
A baffled memory lingers.
The theme, the air, the chords have passed;
They mock my voice and fingers.
They steal away as sunset fires
Lose one by one their flashes,
And cheat the eye with smouldering pyres
And banks of gray cloud-ashes.
And yet I know the old alloy
That dims and disentrances
The golden visions and the joy
Of hope's resplendent fancies
Can never touch that festal hour
In soul and sense recorded,
Though scattered rose leaves from your bower
Alone my search rewarded.
The unconnected strains alone
Survive to bring you nearer,
As when our queen of song and tone
Made vassals of each hearer.
Yet through the night and through the day
The notes and chords are ringing.
Their echo will not pass away —
I hear you singing — singing.
WHILE the skies of this northern November
Scowl down with a darkening menace,
I wonder if you still remember
That marvellous summer in Venice.
When the mornings by clouds unencumbered
Smiled on in unchanging persistence
On the broad bright laguna that slumbered
Afar in the magical distance.
And the mirror of waters reflected
The sails in their gay plumage grouping
Like tropical birds that erected
Their wings, or sat drowsily drooping.
How by moonlight our gondola gliding
Through gleams and through shadows of wonder,
With its sharp flashing beak flew dividing
The waves slipping silently under.
Then almost too full seemed the chalice
Of new brimming life and of beauty,
As we floated by Riva and palace,
Dogana and stately Salute —
Through deep-mouthed canals overshaded
By balconies gray, quaint and olden,
Where ruins of centuries faded
Stood stripped of their azure and golden.
Do you call back the days when before us
The masters of art shone revealing
Their marvels of color — and o'er us
Glowed grand on the rich massy ceiling
In the halls of the doges, where trembled
The state in its turbulent fever,
And purple-robed senates assembled
In days that are shadows forever?
You remember the yellow light tipping
The domes when the sunset was dying;
The crowds on the quays, and the shipping;
The pennons and flags that were flying; —
Saint Mark's with its mellow-toned glory,
The splendor and gloom of its riches;
The columns Byzantine and hoary;
The arches, the gold-crusted niches;
And the days when the sunshine invited
The painters abroad, until mooring
Their bark in the shadow, delighted
They wrought at their labors alluring;
The pictures receding in stretches
Of amber and opal around us —
The joy of our mornings of sketches —
The spell of achievement that bound us?
Ah, never I busy my brushes
With scenes of that radiant weather,
But through me the memory rushes
When we were in Venice together.
Fair Venice, the pearl-shell of cities!
Though poor the oblations we bring her —
The pictures, the songs and the ditties —
Ah, still we must paint her and sing her!
A vision of beauty long vanished,
A dream that is joy to remember,
A solace that cannot be banished
By all the chill blasts of November!