A poem by Madison Julius Cawein

"Succinctae sacra Dianae".


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.


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.


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.


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.


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! -


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


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.

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