The Awakening

A poem by Madison Julius Cawein

God made that night of pearl and ivory,
Perfect and holy as a holy thought
Born of perfection, dreams, and ecstasy,
In love and silence wrought.

And she, who lay where, through the casement failing,
The moonlight clasped with arms of vapory gold
Her Danae beauty, seemed to hear a calling
Deep in the garden old.

And then it seemed, through some strange sense, she heard
The roses softly speaking in the night.
Or was it but the nocturne of a bird
Haunting the white moonlight?

It seemed a fragrant whisper vaguely roaming
From rose to rose, a language sweet that blushed,
Saying, "Who comes? Who is this swiftly coming,
With face so dim and hushed?

"And now, and now we hear a wild heart beating
Whose heart is this that beats among our blooms?
Whose every pulse in rapture keeps repeating
Wild words like wild perfumes."

And then it ceased: and then she heard a sigh,
As if a lily syllabled sweet scent,
Or was it but the wind that silverly
Touched some stringed instrument?

And then again a rumor she detected
Among the roses, words of musk and myrrh,
Saying, "He comes! the one she hath expected,
Who long hath sought for her.

The one whose coming made her soul awaken;
Whose face is fragrance and whose feet are fire:
The one by whom her being shall be shaken
With dreams and deep desire."

And then she rose; and to the casement hastened,
And flung it wide and, leaning outward, gazed;
Above, the night hung, moon and starlight chastened;
Below, with shadows mazed,

The garden bloomed. Around her and o'erhead
All seemed at pause save one wild star that streamed,
One rose that fell. And then she sighed and said,
"I must have dreamed, have dreamed."

And then again she seemed to hear it speak,
A moth that murmured of a star attained,
Or was it but the fountain whispering weak,
White where the moonbeams rained?

And still it grew; and still the sound insisted,
Louder and sweeter, burning into form,
Until at last a presence, starlight-misted,
It shone there rosy warm.

Crying, "Come down! long have I watched and waited!
Come down! draw near! or, like some splendid flower,
Let down thy hair! so I may climb as fated
Into thy heart's high tower.

Lower! bend lower! so thy heart may hear me,
Thy soul may clasp me! Beautiful above
All beautiful things, behold me, yea, draw near me!
Behold! for I am Love."

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