With An Armchair

A poem by James Russell Lowell


About the oak that framed this chair, of old
The seasons danced their round; delighted wings
Brought music to its boughs; shy woodland things
Shared its broad roof, 'neath whose green glooms grown bold,
Lovers, more shy than they, their secret told;
The resurrection of a thousand springs
Swelled in its veins, and dim imaginings
Teased them, perchance, of life more manifold.
Such shall it know when its proud arms enclose
My Lady Goshawk, musing here at rest,
Careless of him who into exile goes,
Yet, while his gift by those fair limbs is prest,
Through some fine sympathy of nature knows
That, seas between us, she is still his guest.


Yet sometimes, let me dream, the conscious wood
A momentary vision may renew
Of him who counts it treasure that he knew,
Though but in passing, such a priceless good,
And, like an elder brother, felt his mood
Uplifted by the spell that kept her true,
Amid her lightsome compeers, to the few
That wear the crown of serious womanhood:
Were he so happy, think of him as one
Who in the Louvre or Pitti feels his soul
Rapt by some dead face which, till then unseen,
Moves like a memory, and, till life outrun,
Is vexed with vague misgiving past control,
Of nameless loss and thwarted might-have-been.

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