The Bather.

A poem by George Parsons Lathrop

Standing here alone,
Let me pause awhile,
Drinking in the light
Ere, with plunge of white limbs prone,
I raise the sparkling flight
Of foam-flakes volatile.

Now, in natural guise,
I woo the deathless breeze,
Through me rushing fleet
The joy of life, in swift surprise:
I grow with growing wheat,
And burgeon with the trees.

Lo! I fetter Time,
So he cannot run;
And in Eden again -
Flash of memory sublime! -
Dwell naked, without stain,
Beneath the dazed sun.

All yields brotherhood;
Each least thing that lives,
Wrought of primal spores,
Deepens this wild sense of good
That, on these shaggy shores,
Return to nature gives.

Oh, that some solitude
Were ours, in woodlands deep,
Where, with lucent eyes,
Living lithe and limber-thewed,
Our life's shape might arise
Like mountains fresh from sleep!

To sounds of water falling,
Hosts of delicate dreams
Should lull us and allure
With a dim, enchanted calling,
Blameless to live and pure
Like these sweet springs and streams.

But in a wilderness
Alone may such life be?
Why of all things framed,
In my human form confessed
Should I be ashamed,
And blush for honesty?

Rounded, strengthy limbs
That knit me to my kind -
Your glory turns to grief!
Shall I for my soul sing hymns,
Yet for my body find
No clear, divine belief?

Let me rather die,
Than by faith uphold
Dogmas weak that dare
The form that once Christ wore deny
Afraid with him to share
A purity twofold;

Yet, while sin remains
On this saddened earth,
Humbly walk my ways!
For my garments are as chains;
And I fear to praise
My frame with careless mirth.

Joy and penance go
Hand in hand, I see!
Would I could live so well,
Soul of me should never know
When my coverings fell,
Nor feel this nudity!

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