O Love! O Lustre of the sunlit earth
That knows thy step and revels in the worth
Of thy much beauty! Is't thy will anew,
Famed as thou art, to marvel that I sue
With such persistence, and in such unrest
Amid the frenzies of my passion-quest?
Wilt look ungently, and without a tear,
On all the pangs I bear at thy behest?
Morning and eve I cease not, when I kneel
To my Redeemer for my spirit's weal
And for my body's,--as becomes a man,--
Morning and eve I cease not in the span
Of all my days, O thou Unconquer'd One!
To pray for thee, and do what may be done
To re-acquire the friendship I have lost,
Which is the holiest thing beneath the sun.
For what is fame that with so loud a voice
O'ersways the nations? What the random choice
Of sight and sound which makes the place we fill
So fraught with good, so redolent of ill?
Where is the thunderstorm of yesternight
That shook the clouds? And where the levin's blight
That spake of chaos and the Judgment Day?
And where the wisdom of a king's delight?
Could I be kiss'd of thee, or crown'd of men,
I'd choose the kiss. I'd be ordainèd then
Lord of myself, and not the slave I seem
To each new doubt. Our tryste was like a dream
And yet 'twas true. For oft, by wonder-chance,
We find the path to many a bright romance,
And many a tilt and tourney of dear love
In which the brave are vanquish'd by a glance.
To lie alone with thee one little hour,
And cling to thee as flower may cling to flower,
With no rough thought beyond the peace thereof,--
To be thy comrade, and to don and doff
The little chain that hangs about thy neck,--
To do all this, my Fair One! and to fleck
Thine eyes with kisses, were a righteous deed,
And not a thing for Love to hold in check.
Nay, there are dimples which I long to taste,
And there's a girdle fit for Phoebe's waist
Which I would loosen; for I have the skill
To handle lilies; and, by Venus' will,
I'd handle thee, and comfort thee therein.
For love's a sacrament I'd die to win,
And not a toy nor yet a subterfuge;
And not a pitfall for the feet of sin.
The searching suddenness of thy blue eyes,
The flash thereof, the fire that in them lies,--
All this I yearn to,--all the soul of thee
Shown in thy looks, as though to solace me
In some disaster portion'd out as mine.
Where thou abidest, where thy limbs recline,
Where thou'rt absorb'd in silence or in prayer,
There stands a throne, there gleams a fairy shrine.
I am, indeed, more subject to thy sway
Than trees are subject, in their tender way,
To earth's great king revolving round the sphere.
I am thy suffering servant all the year;
And when I wake thy name is on my lips,
And when I sleep I feel thy finger-tips
Press'd on mine eyes, as if thy wraith were there,
To save my soul from night's entire eclipse.
Till I have heard from thee my doom of death
I shall be proud to serve thee with my breath,
And with my labour, and be thine withal
As Man is God's,--content with any thrall
That's bound in thee; content with any lot
That's link'd with thine, in some secluded spot
Which thou hast lov'd, O Lady! in the past,
And where remorse and wrong will find us not.
To know thee fair, ah God! how sweet is this;
To find thee wavering, and to grasp in bliss
Only the dream of thee, how sad the while!
And yet, by reason of a moment's smile,
How grand to hope, how gracious to forget!
Thou false to me? Thou heedless of a debt
Of love's incurring? Nay, by Juno's crown,
Thy snow-white hand shall be my guerdon yet!
The spirit-love that leads us to the soul
Athwart the body as its fairest goal,--
The love that lives in languor undefined
And yet is strong,--the love that can be kind
And yet aggressive as a soldier's blade,
Keen to the hilt, entranced and not afraid,--
This is the love that will survive the death
Of all endowments which the years have made.
Wilt frown at this? Wilt chide me? Wilt appeal,
As some are wont, when lovers, out of zeal,
O'erstep the bounds of wisdom which hath ceased
To win men's praise? The Matins of the East
Sung by the lark,--the Credo of the Cloud
Which oft he sings in confirmation proud
Of his great love,--all this were mine excuse
If I could sing as he, so dawn-endow'd.
For I'd be welcome, then, where'er thou art,
And gladden thee, and play as prompt a part
As Romeo play'd with Juliet at his breast.
Who loves not love, who hates to be caress'd,
Is Nature's bane; and I'll denounce him, too.
For he's a foe to all that's just and true
In earth and Heaven; and when he seeks a joy,
His quest shall fail,--his hand shall miss the clue.
We know these things. We know how dark a word
May let in light, and how the smallest bird
May mix the morn with music till we think
The fire-lit air is wine for us to drink,--
And every drop salvation,--every sound
A Muse's whisper,--all the flower-full ground
A fancy-carpet fit for knights to tread
When on their way to Arthur's Table Round.
A peevish fool is he who will not raise
His hands in prayer, among the danger-days
That come to all; for he, when waxen old,
Will search the past and find it callous-cold;
And all the future, too, will freeze for him.
Nor shall he weep aright when tears bedim
His desperate, doleful eyes that know not faith;
And he shall hear no chants of cherubim.
I was bewitch'd of late! My soul had met
Some fearful doom; and there had dropt a threat,--
A curse belike,--from lips of Atropos.
There had been done a deed of spirit-loss
Which did o'erwhelm me as I paused thereat.
But now 'tis shunn'd; and where a Tremor sat
Now sits a Hope; and where a gulf was seen
Now stands a mount as blest as Ararat.
The rose is silent, and the lily dumb
For Man alone. He sees them when they come
Glad from the soil; but what they mean thereby,
And what they dream of, when they front the sky,
Eludes his learning. But the birds can tell.
Moths talk to flowers; and breezes in the dell
Hear more confessions than we men reveal;
And oaks and cedars love each other well.
In woodland places where the grass is lit
With lamp-like flowers, I seem to see thee flit
On azure wings, as if to bless the glade;
For, everywhere, thy form in shine and shade
Doth come and go, conversant, as I deem,
With Nature's whims; for thou'rt of great esteem
In fairy haunts; and elves and fays confess
How sweet thou art, my Love! and how supreme.
Diana's self was not more virgin-proud.
The maiden-moon, new-seated on a cloud
That seems her throne where she receives the stars,--
The moon who holds her court beyond the jars
Of land and sea,--the moon, the vestal moon,
Has kept thee cold since the transcendant noon
Of that wild day when I thy hand did claim,
And when thy lips refusèd me their boon.
But thoughts are free; and mine have found at last
Their apt solution; and, from out the past,
There seems to shine as 'twere a beacon-fire;
And all the land is lit with large desire
Of lambent glory; all the quivering sea
Is big with waves that wait the Morn's decree,
As I, thy vassal, wait thy beckoning smile
Athwart the splendors of my dreams of Thee!