Dusk is thy dawn; when Eve puts on her state
Of gold and purple in the marbled west,
Thou comest forth like some embodied trait,
Or dim conceit, a lily-bud confessed;
Or, of a rose, the visible wish; that, white,
Goes softly messengering through the night,
Whom each expectant flower makes its guest.
All day the primroses have thought of thee,
Their golden heads close-haremed from the heat;
All day the mystic moonflowers silkenly
Veiled snowy faces, that no bee might greet
Or butterfly that, weighed with pollen, passed;
Keeping Sultana charms for thee, at last,
Their lord, who comest to salute each sweet.
Cool-throated flowers that avoid the day's
Too fervid kisses; every bud that drinks
The tipsy dew and to the starlight plays
Nocturnes of fragrance, thy winged shadow links
In bonds of secret brotherhood and faith;
O bearer of their order's shibboleth,
Like some pale symbol fluttering o'er these pinks.
What dost thou whisper in the balsam's ear
That sets it blushing, or the hollyhock's,
A syllabled silence that no man may hear,
As dreamily upon its stem it rocks?
What spell dost bear from listening plant to plant,
Like some white witch, some ghostly ministrant,
Some spectre of some perished flower of phlox?
O voyager of that universe which lies
Between the four walls of this garden fair,
Whose constellations are the fireflies
That wheel their instant courses everywhere,
'Mid fairy firmaments wherein one sees
Mimic Boötes and the Pleiades,
Thou steerest like some fairy ship-of-air.
Gnome-wrought of moonbeam fluff and gossamer,
Silent as scent, perhaps thou chariotest
Mab or king Oberon; or, haply, her
His queen, Titania, on some midnight quest.
O for the herb, the magic euphrasy,
That should unmask thee to mine eyes, ah, me!
And all that world at which my soul hath guessed!