Reverie

A poem by Madison Julius Cawein

What ogive gates from gold of Ophir wrought,
What walls of Pariah, whiter than a rose,
What towers of crystal, for the eyes of thought,
Hast builded on far Islands of Repose?
Thy cloudy columns, vast, Corinthian,
Or huge, Ionic, colonnade the heights
Of dreamland, looming o'er the soul's deep seas;
Built melodies of marble, that no man
Has ever reached, except in fancy's flights,
Templing the presence of perpetual ease.

Oft, where o'er plastic frieze and plinths of spar,
In glimmering solitudes of pillared stone,
The twilight blossoms with one violet star,
With thee, O Reverie, I have stood alone,
And there beheld, from out the Mythic Age,
The rosy breasts of Cytherea fair,
Full-cestused, and suggestive of what loves
Immortal rise; and heard the lyric rage
Of sun-burnt Poesy, whose throat breathes bare
O'er leopard skins, fluting among his groves.

Oft, where thy castled peaks and templed vales
Cloud like convulsive sunsets shores that dream,
Myrrh-fragrant, over siren seas whose sails
Gleam white as lilies on a lilied stream,
My soul has dreamed. Or by thy sapphire sea,
In thy arcaded gardens, in the shade
Of breathing sculpture, oft has walked with thought,
And bent, in shadowy attitude, its knee
Before the shrine of Beauty that must fade
And leave no memory of the mind that wrought.

Who hath beheld thy caverns where, in heaps,
The wines of Lethe and Love's witchery,
In sealéd Amphoræ a sibyl keeps,
World-old, for ever guarded secretly?
No wine of Xeres or of Syracuse!
No fine Falernian and no vile Sabine!
The stolen fire of a demigod,
Whose bubbled purple goddess feet did bruise
In crusted vats of vintage, where the green
Flames with wild poppies, on the Samian sod.

Oh, for the deep enchantment of one draught!
The reckless ecstasy of classic earth!
With godlike eyes to laugh as gods have laughed
In eyes of mortal brown, a mighty mirth.
Of deity delirious with desire!
To breathe the dropping roses of the shrines,
The splashing wine-libation and the blood,
And all the young priest's dreaming! To inspire
My eager soul with beauty, 'til it shines
An utt'rance of life's loftier brotherhood!

So would I slumber in the old-world shades,
And Poesy should touch me, as some bold
Wild bee a pulpy lily of the glades,
Barbaric-covered with the kernelled gold;
And feel the glory of the Golden Age
Less godly than my purpose, strong to dare
Death with the pure immortal lips of love:
Less lovely than my soul's ideal rage
To mate itself with Music and declare
Itself part meaning of the stars above.

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