O Maytime Woods!

A poem by Madison Julius Cawein

From the idyll "Wild Thorn and Lily"

O Maytime woods! O Maytime lanes and hours!
And stars, that knew how often there at night
Beside the path, where woodbine odors blew
Between the drowsy eyelids of the dusk, -
When, like a great, white, pearly moth, the moon
Hung silvering long windows of your room, -
I stood among the shrubs! The dark house slept.
I watched and waited for - I know not what! -
Some tremor of your gown: a velvet leaf's
Unfolding to caresses of the Spring:
The rustle of your footsteps: or the dew
Syllabling avowal on a tulip's lips
Of odorous scarlet: or the whispered word
Of something lovelier than new leaf or rose -
The word young lips half murmur in a dream:

Serene with sleep, light visions weigh her eyes:
And underneath her window blooms a quince.
The night is a sultana who doth rise
In slippered caution, to admit a prince,
Love, who her eunuchs and her lord defies.

Are these her dreams? or is it that the breeze
Pelts me with petals of the quince, and lifts
The Balm-o'-Gilead buds? and seems to squeeze
Aroma on aroma through sweet rifts
Of Eden, dripping through the rainy trees.

Along the path the buckeye trees begin
To heap their hills of blossoms. - Oh, that they
Were Romeo ladders, whereby I might win
Her chamber's sanctity! - where dreams must pray
About her soul! - That I might enter in! -

A dream, - and see the balsam scent erase
Its dim intrusion; and the starry night
Conclude majestic pomp; the virgin grace
Of every bud abashed before the white,
Pure passion-flower of her sleeping face.

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