'
Succinctae sacra Dianae
'.-OVID

There the ragged sunlight lay
Tawny on thick ferns and gray
On dark waters: dimmer,
Lone and deep, the cypress grove
Bowered mystery and wove
Braided lights, like those that love
On the pearl plumes of a dove
Faint to gleam and glimmer.

II

There centennial pine and oak
Into stormy cadence broke:
Hollow rocks gloomed, slanting,
Echoing in dim arcade,
Looming with long moss, that made
Twilight streaks in tatters laid:
Where the wild hart, hunt-affrayed,
Plunged the water, panting.

III

Poppies of a sleepy gold
Mooned the gray-green darkness rolled
Down its vistas, making
Wisp-like blurs of flame. And pale
Stole the dim deer down the vale:
And the haunting nightingale
Throbbed unseen-the olden tale
All its wild heart breaking.

IV

There the hazy serpolet,
Dewy cistus, blooming wet,
Blushed on bank and bowlder;
There the cyclamen, as wan
As first footsteps of the dawn,
Carpeted the spotted lawn:
Where the nude nymph, dripping drawn,
Basked a wildflower shoulder.

V

In the citrine shadows there
What tall presences and fair,
Godlike, stood!-or, gracious
As the rock-rose there that grew,
Delicate and dim as dew,
Stepped from boles of oaks, and drew
Faunlike forms to follow, who
Filled the forest spacious!-

VI

Guarding that Boeotian
Valley so no foot of man
Soiled its silence holy
With profaning tread-save one,
The Hyantian: Actaeon,
Who beheld, and might not shun
Pale Diana's wrath; undone
By his own mad folly.

VII

Lost it lies-that valley: sleeps
In serene enchantment; keeps
Beautiful its banished
Bowers that no man may see;
Fountains that her deity
Haunts, and every rock and tree
Where her hunt goes swinging free
As in ages vanished.

More verses by Madison Julius Cawein

Advertisement