The Hamadryad

A poem by Madison Julius Cawein

She stood among the longest ferns
The valley held; and in her hand
One blossom, like the light that burns
Vermilion o'er a sunset land;
And round her hair a twisted band
Of pink-pierced mountain-laurel blooms:
And darker than dark pools, that stand
Below the star-communing glooms,
Her eyes beneath her hair's perfumes.

I saw the moonbeam sandals on
Her flowerlike feet, that seemed too chaste
To tread true gold: and, like the dawn
On splendid peaks that lord a waste
Of solitude lost gods have graced,
Her face: she stood there, faultless-hipped,
Bound as with cestused silver, chased
With acorn-cup and crown, and tipped
With oak leaves, whence her chiton slipped.

Limbs that the gods call loveliness!
The grace and glory of all Greece
Wrought in one marble shape were less
Than her perfection! 'Mid the trees
I saw her and time seemed to cease
For me. And, lo! I lived my old
Greek life again of classic ease,
Barbarian as the myths that rolled
Me back into the Age of Gold.

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