The Perpetual Wooing

The dull world clamors at my feet
And asks my hand and helping sweet;
And wonders when the time shall be
I'll leave off dreaming dreams of thee.
It blames me coining soul and time
And sending minted bits of rhyme--
A-wooing of thee still.

Shall I make answer? This it is:
I camp beneath thy galaxies
Of starry thoughts and shining deeds;
And, seeing new ones, I must needs
Arouse my speech to tell thee, dear,
Though thou art nearer, I am near--
A-wooing of thee still.

I feel thy heart-beat next mine own;
Its music hath a richer tone.
I rediscover in thine eyes
A balmier, dewier paradise.
I'm sure thou art a rarer girl--
And so I seek thee, finest pearl,
A-wooing of thee still.

With blood of roses on thy lips--
Canst doubt my trembling?--something slips
Between thy loveliness and me--
So commonplace, so fond of thee.
Ah, sweet, a kiss is waiting where
That last one stopped thy lover's prayer--
A-wooing of thee still.

When new light falls upon thy face
My gladdened soul discerns some trace
Of God, or angel, never seen
In other days of shade and sheen.
Ne'er may such rapture die, or less
Than joy like this my heart confess--
A-wooing of thee still.

Go thou, O soul of beauty, go
Fleet-footed toward the heavens aglow.
Mayhap, in following, thou shalt see
Me worthier of thy love and thee.
Thou wouldst not have me satisfied
Until thou lov'st me--none beside--
A-wooing of thee still.

This was a song of years ago--
Of spring! Now drifting flowers of snow
Bloom on the window-sills as white
As gray-beard looking through love's light
And holding blue-veined hands the while.
He finds her last--the sweetest smile--
A-wooing of her still.

(THE TALE)

Cometh the Wind from the garden, fragrant and full of sweet singing--
Under my tree where I sit cometh the Wind to confession.

"Out in the garden abides the Queen of the beautiful Roses--
Her do I love and to-night wooed her with passionate singing;
Told I my love in those songs, and answer she gave in her blushes--
She shall be bride of the Wind, and she is the Queen of the Roses!"

"Wind, there is spice in thy breath; thy rapture hath fragrance Sabaean!"

"Straight from my wooing I come--my lips are bedewed with her kisses--
My lips and my song and my heart are drunk with the rapture of loving!"

(THE SONG)

The Wind he loveth the red, red Rose,
And he wooeth his love to wed:
Sweet is his song
The Summer long
As he kisseth her lips so red;
And he recketh naught of the ruin wrought
When the Summer of love is sped!

(AGAIN THE TALE)

Cometh the Wind from the garden, bitter with sorrow of winter.

"Wind, is thy love-song forgot? Wherefore thy dread lamentations?"

Sigheth and moaneth the Wind: "Out of the desolate garden
Come I from vigils with ghosts over the grave of the Summer!"

"Thy breath that was fragrant anon with rapture of music and loving,
It grieveth all things with its sting and the frost of its wailing
displeasure."

The Wind maketh ever more moan and ever it giveth this answer:
"My heart it is numb with the cold of the love that was born of the
Summer--
I come from the garden all white with the wrath and the sorrow of Winter;
I have kissed the low, desolate tomb where my bride in her loveliness
lieth
And the voice of the ghost in my heart is the voice that forever
outcrieth!"

(AGAIN THE SONG)

The Wind he waileth the red, red Rose
When the Summer of love is sped--
He waileth above
His lifeless love
With her shroud of snow o'erspread--
Crieth such things as a true heart brings
To the grave of its precious dead.

Dear Old London

When I was broke in London in the fall of '89,
I chanced to spy in Oxford Street this tantalizing sign,
'A Splendid Horace cheap for Cash!' Of course I had to look
Upon the vaunted bargain, and it was a noble book!
A finer one I 've never seen, nor can I hope to see,
The first edition, richly bound, and clean as clean can be;
And, just to think, for three-pounds-ten I might have had that Pine,
When I was broke in London in the fall of '89!

Down at Noseda's, in the Strand, I found, one fateful day,
A portrait that I pined for as only maniac may,
A print of Madame Vestris (she flourished years ago,
Was Bartolozzi's daughter, and a thoroughbred, you know).
A clean and handsome print it was, and cheap at thirty bob,
That 's what I told the salesman, as I choked a rising sob;
But I hung around Noseda's as it were a holy shrine,
When I was broke in London in the fall of '89.

At Davey's, in Great Russell Street, were autographs galore,
And Mr. Davey used to let me con that precious store.
Sometimes I read what warriors wrote, sometimes a king's command,
But oftener still a poet's verse, writ in a meagre hand.
Lamb, Byron, Addison, and Burns, Pope, Johnson, Swift, and Scott,
It needed but a paltry sum to comprehend the lot;
Yet, though Friend Davey marked 'em down, what could I but decline?
For I was broke in London in the fall of '89.

Of antique swords and spears I saw a vast and dazzling heap
That Curio Fenton offered me at prices passing cheap;
And, oh, the quaint old bureaus, and the warming-pans of brass,
And the lovely hideous freaks I found in pewter and in glass!
And, oh, the sideboards, candlesticks, the cracked old china plates,
The clocks and spoons from Amsterdam that antedate all dates!
Of such superb monstrosities I found an endless mine
When I was broke in London in the fall of '89.

O ye that hanker after boons that others idle by, --
The battered things that please the soul, though they may vex the eye, --
The silver plate and crockery all sanctified with grime,
The oaken stuff that has defied the tooth of envious Time,
The musty tomes, the speckled prints, the mildewed bills of play,
And other costly relics of malodorous decay, --
Ye only can appreciate what agony was mine
When I was broke in London in the fall of '89.

When, in the course of natural things, I go to my reward,
Let no imposing epitaph my martyrdoms record;
Neither in Hebrew, Latin, Greek, nor any classic tongue,
Let my ten thousand triumphs over human griefs be sung;
But in plain Anglo-Saxon that he may know who seeks
What agonizing pangs I 've had while on the hunt for freaks
Let there be writ upon the slab that marks my grave this line:
'Deceased was broke in London in the fall of '89.'

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