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Pale berries fade to bright
Leaves green whisper autumn
Creasing brown and crisping - falling,
July parts with Summer sudden as fright.

Hedges swelling berries threaten indigo
Fallen Summer lightly crunches underfoot
Lazy spotted silk flits amongst the cabbages,
As rain drips and autumn winds blow.

Harvest dawns soon but now
It’s colours, winds and crops grow,
Fattening Moon and Sun to lingering orange
Swelling cold to comfort woe.


28-7-05

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Autumn Winds

“Oh! Autumn winds, what means this plaintive wailing
Around the quiet homestead where we dwell?
Whence come ye, say, and what the story mournful
That your weird voices ever seek to tell—
Whispering or clamoring, beneath the casements,
Rising in shriek or dying off in moan,
But ever breathing, menace, fear, or anguish
In every thrilling and unearthly tone?”

“We come from far off and from storm-tossed oceans,
Where vessels bravely battle with fierce gale,—
Mere playthings of our stormy, restless power,
We rend them quickly, shuddering mast and sail;
And with their, stalwart, gallant crews we hurl them
Amid the hungry waves that for them wait,
Nor leave one floating spar nor fragile taffrail
To tell unto the world their dreary fate.”

But He who holds you, wrathful winds of Autumn,
Within the hollow of His mighty hand,
Can stay your onward course of reckless fury,
Your demon wrath, or eerie sport command,
Changing your rudest blast to zephyr gentle
As rocks the rose in summer evenings still,
Calming the ocean and yourselves enchaining
By simple fiat of Almighty Will.”

“We’ve been, too in the close and crowded city
Where want is often forced to herd with sin;
And our cold breath has pierced through without pity,
Bare, ruined hovel and worn garments thin;
Through narrow chink and broken window pouring
Draughts rife with fever and with deadly chill,
Choosing our victims ’mid old age and childhood,
Or tender, fragile infancy at will.”

“Oh, Autumn blasts, He, whose kind care doth temper
The searching wind unto the small shorn lamb,
To those poor shiv’ring victims, too, can render
Thy keenest, sharpest blasts, both mild and calm
Rave on—rave on, around our happy homestead
Upon this dark and wild November night,
Ye do but work out your God-given mission,
Mere humble creatures of our Father’s might.”

But, listen, we come, too, from graveyards lonely,
From mocking revels held ’mid tombstones tall,
Tearing the withered leaves from off the branches,
The clinging ivy from the time-stained wall,—
Uprooting, blighting every tiny leaflet
That hid the grave’s bleak nakedness from sight,
Driving the leaves in hideous, death like dances,
Around the lowly mounds, the grave-stones white.”

And, what of that, ye cruel winds of Autumn?
Spring will return again with hope and mirth,
Clothing with tender green the budding branches,
Decking with snowdrops, violets, the earth;
And, oh! sweet hope, sublime and most consoling,
The sacred dust within those graves shall rise
In God’s good time, to reign on thrones of glory
With Him, beyond the cloudless, golden skies.”

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When leaves fall in autumn

When leaves fall in autumn, lying all over the place
with the smell of decline penetrating,
in colours of yellow, brown and gold
nature is caught in a circle

in which life and death is present,
the dead leaves becomes the fertilizer
for new life sprouting from seeds
when the earth again brings forth life

and continuously this cycle proceeds
until trees are full of flowers, later full of fruit.

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Leonora

LEONORA, Leonora,
How the word rolls--Leonora--
Lion-like, in full-mouthed sound,
Marching o'er the metric ground
With a tawny tread sublime--
So your name moves, Leonora,
Down my desert rhyme.

So you pace, young Leonora,
Through the alleys of the wood,
Head erect, majestic, tall,
The fit daughter of the Hall:
Yet with hazel eyes declined,
And a voice like summer wind,
And a meek mouth, sweet and good,
Dimpling ever, Leonora,
In fair womanhood.

How those smiles dance, Leonora,
As you meet the pleasant breeze
Under your ancestral trees:
For your heart is free and pure
As this blue March sky o'erhead,
And in the life-path you tread,
All the leaves are budding, sure,
All the primroses are springing,
All the birds begin their singing--
'T is your spring-time, Leonora,
May it long endure.

But it will pass, Leonora:
And the silent days must fall
When a change comes over all:
When the last leaf downward flitters,
And the last, last sunbeam glitters
On the terraced hillside cool,
On the peacocks by the pool:
When you'll walk along these alleys
With no lightsome foot that dallies
With the violets and the moss,--
But with quiet steps and slow,
And grave eyes that earthward grow,
And a matron-heart inured
To all women have endured,--
Must endure and ever will,
All the joy and all the ill,
All the gain and all the loss--
Can you cheerfully lay down
Careless girlhood's flowery crown,
And thus take up, Leonora,
Womanhood's meek cross?

Ay! your eyes shine, Leonora,
Warm, and true, and brave, and kind:
And although I nothing know
Of the maiden heart below,
I in them good omens find.
Go, enjoy your present hours
Like the birds and bees and flowers:
And may summer days bestow
On you just so much of rain,
Blessed baptism of pain!
As will make your blossoms grow.
May you walk, as through life's road
Every noble woman can,--
With a pure heart before God,
And a true heart unto man:
Till with this same smile you wait
For the opening of the Gate
That shuts earth from mortal eyes;
Till at last, with peaceful heart,
All contented to depart,
Leaving children's children playing
In these woods you used to stray in,
You may enter, Leonora,
Into Paradise.

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Terms Of Endearment

Sate flowers from Rembrandt's sorrow
Dressed in gold she stares in opulence
Gone from the axis of sojourning time
Paint her with all your bright color
Let her live in sweet butterfly myth
Severed empires strange as funerals
Burning sea shines like midnight ships
Chase your dreams in chests of silk
Tears of marble memory cold and aloof
Purple adulation sired by orators

The waning moon stutters its poetry
Stars in blue evening gowns sigh
Quills of epochs touch the ethereal
Ancient Neptune in cribs of white light
The other kingdom is a living mandella
Fresco of balance in Syrian ink
Stones lay silent like caves
Touch the fire laying in the epithets
Ceremony where gates agree
Where the priests mean what they say

The wind sings with silent souls
All this cryptic love from far away
She whispers from a wife gone
She loves you and always will
Every father watches over
Hear the refined hope sublime and true
Everything dissipates into mortal terms
A wisp in the hallway
The chimes of the clock
Terms of endearment never go away

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Autumn Leaves

The autumn leaves swirl to the ground in their millions.
Gold, russet, ochre, burnt umber, and deep vermillion.
Down to the ground, the dying leaves flit and flutter;
On to the grassy bank, the pathway, and into the gutter.

Some of the colours of the leaves are deep and so very rich.
Whirling along the ground, some leaves tumble into the ditch.
A thick layer of multicoloured leaves now carpets the earth,
Leaving the trees bare, in readiness, for next spring’s rebirth.

With changing leaf colours, many people love this time of year,
But, that summer is well and truly over, it is now perfectly clear.
The many colours mixed together are a magical sight to behold;
I love the shades of yellow, crimson, sienna, and ruby red, so bold.

Some leaves are mottled, with two glorious colours or more;
Adding to the fabulous display, which now lies upon the floor.
Children love nothing better, than to frolic through the fallen leaves;
When workmen collect them up, they’re left feeling very aggrieved.

Even though the weather is getting cold, the colours look so warm.
Fiery reds and oranges, and golden hues, like those of ripened corn.
Photographers find this time of year, so very evocative and inspiring;
The spectacular displays before them, they spend much time admiring.

As the season draws on, the once vibrant colours begin to dull and fade.
Soon, all that is left are brown leaves, which once boasted brilliant shades.
When leaves first change their colour, they create much admired foliage,
But with age and weather, over the coming weeks, there is much spoilage.

I love the dark green leaves, with their edges tinged with a brilliant red.
But, alas, those colours will fade, now that the leaf is no longer being fed.
The crisp, bright colours can offer cheer on even the very dullest of days,
But in our minds, we know it won’t be long before winter comes our way.

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An Autumn Mood

Pile the pyre, light the fire-there is fuel enough and to spare;
You have fire enough and to spare with your madness and gladness;
Burn the old year-it is dead, and dead, and done.
There is something under the sun that I cannot bear:
I cannot bear this sadness under the sun,
I cannot bear this sun upon all this sadness.
Here on this prophecy, here on this leafless log,
Log upon log, and leafless on leafless, I sit.
Yes, Beauty, I see thee; yes, I see, but I will not rejoice.
Down, down, wild heart! down, down, thou hungry dog
That dost but leap and gaze with a want thou canst not utter!
Down, down! I know the ill, but where is the cure?
Moor and stubble and mist, stubble and mist and moor,
Here, on the turf that will feel the snows, a vanishing flutter
Of bells that are ringing farewells,
And overhead, from a branch that will soon be bare,
Is it a falling leaf that disturbs my blood like a voice?
Or is it an autumn bird that answers the evening light?
The evening light on stubble and moor and mist,
And pallid woods, and the pale sweet hamlets of dying men.
Oh, autumn bird! I also will speak as I list.
Oh, woods! oh, fields! oh, trees! oh, hill and glen!
You who have seen my glory, you who wist
How I have walked the mornings of delight-
Myself a morning, summer'd through and lit
With light and summer as the sunny dew
With sun: you saw me then-
You see me now; oh, hear my heart and answer it.
Where is the Nevermore and the land of the Yesterdays?
Aye,
Where are Youth and Joy, the dew and the honey-dew,
The day of the rose, and the night of the nightingale?
Where-
Where are the sights and the sounds that shall ne'er and shall e'er
Come again?
Once more I have cried my cry, once more in vain
I have listen'd; once more, for a moment, the ancient pain
Is less, though I know that the year is dead and done.
Once more I bear
Under the sun the sadness, over the sadness the sun.
Bear? I have borne, I shall bear. But what is a man
That his soul should be seen and heard in the trees and flow'rs of the field?
Have I tinctured them mortal? or doth their mortality yield
Me like a fragrance of autumn? Ah! passion of Eve,
Ah! Eve of my passion,-which is it that aches to complain?
Oh, old old Minstrelsy, oh, wafty winds of Romaunt,
Blow me your harps. My sick soul cannot weave
These gossamers of feeling that remain
To any string whereon its ill may grieve.
Blow me your harps-harp, wind-harp, dulcimer,
Citerne, bataunt,
And mandolin, and each string'd woe
Of the sweet olden world, and let them blow
By me, as in sea-streams the sea-gods see
The streaming, streaming hair
Of drownèd girls, and every sorrowy sin
O' the sea.
And so let them blow out the din
Of daylight, and blow in,
With legendary song
Of buried maids,
The evening shades.
And when the thronging harps, and all
The murmurings of wild wind-harps,
Are still;
And shimmer of dim dulcimer,
And thrill of trill'd citerne,
And plaint of quaint bataunt, and throb of long
Long silent mandolin,
And every other sound that grieves,
Hath dropt into its colour on the leaves,
In the silence let me hear
The round and heavy tear
Of orchards fall.
And as I listen let the air unseen
Be stirr'd with words;
Let the ripe husk of what is gape open and shed
What has been;
Through click of gates and the games
Of the living village at play,
Let me hear forgotten names
Of ancient day.
Down like a drop of rain from the evening sky
Let somewhat be said;
Up from the pool, like a bubble, let something reply,
In the tongue of the dead.
Through the swallows that fly their last
Round the grey spire of the past,
In the faded elms by the height,
Let the last hour of light
Strike, and the yellow chimes
Forget and remember
A dream of other times.
And above let the rocks be warm with the mystical day that is not
To-day or to-morrow;
And from the nest in the rock let me hear the croon
Of orphan-doves that yearn
For the wings that will never return.
And below the rocks, on the grassy slopes and scarps,
Let the tender flowering flame of the exquisite crocus of sorrow
Sadden the green of the grass to the pathos of gentle September.
And below the slopes and scarps, where the strangled rill
Blackens to rot,
Let the unrest of the troublous hour
Blossom on through the night, and the running flow'r
O' the fatuous fire flicker, and flicker, and flare,
Through the aimless dark of disaster, the aimless light of despair.
And meantime, let the serious evening star
Contemplative, enlarge her slow pale-brow'd
Regard, until she shake
With tears, and sudden, snatch a hasty cloud
To hide whate'er in those pure realms afar
Is likest human sadness: and, full-soon,
Let night begin to slake
The west; and many-headed darkness peer
From every copse and brake;
While from a cottage nigh,
Where the poor candle of dull Poverty
May barely serve to show
Her stony privilege of woe,
Or if, like her, it try
To leave the cabin'd precincts of its lot,
Steals trembling forth to struggle and expire;
A milkless babe that shall not see the morn
Starves to the fretted ear,
With lullaby and lullaby,
And rocking shadow to and fro
Athwart the lattice low;
And from yon western ridge, black as the bier
Of day, let a faint, far-off horn,
Mourning across the ravish'd fields forlorn,
Sound like a streak of sunset seen through the grief of the moon.
And, further yet, from the slant of the seaward plain,
The bleating and lowing of many-voicèd flocks and herds,
Forced from their fields, mix on the morning breeze
With sob of seas,
Till the long-rising wind be high,
And, from the distant main,
A gale sweep up the vale, and on the gale a wail
Of shipwreck fill and fail,
Fail and fill, fill and fail, like a sinking, sinking sail
In the rain!
But ere all this to us let the dim smoke rise!
To us from the nearest field, from the nearest pyre
Of stubbled corn, let the dim smoke rise; and let
The fire that loosens the stubble corn
Loose the soul like smoke, and let tears in the eyes
Confuse the passionate sense till the heart forget
Whether we be the world, or whether the fading world be
We.

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John Keats

Isabella; Or, The Pot Of Basil: A Story From Boccaccio

I.
Fair Isabel, poor simple Isabel!
Lorenzo, a young palmer in Love's eye!
They could not in the self-same mansion dwell
Without some stir of heart, some malady;
They could not sit at meals but feel how well
It soothed each to be the other by;
They could not, sure, beneath the same roof sleep
But to each other dream, and nightly weep.

II.
With every morn their love grew tenderer,
With every eve deeper and tenderer still;
He might not in house, field, or garden stir,
But her full shape would all his seeing fill;
And his continual voice was pleasanter
To her, than noise of trees or hidden rill;
Her lute-string gave an echo of his name,
She spoilt her half-done broidery with the same.

III.
He knew whose gentle hand was at the latch,
Before the door had given her to his eyes;
And from her chamber-window he would catch
Her beauty farther than the falcon spies;
And constant as her vespers would he watch,
Because her face was turn'd to the same skies;
And with sick longing all the night outwear,
To hear her morning-step upon the stair.

IV.
A whole long month of May in this sad plight
Made their cheeks paler by the break of June:
'To morrow will I bow to my delight,
'To-morrow will I ask my lady's boon.'-
'O may I never see another night,
'Lorenzo, if thy lips breathe not love's tune.'-
So spake they to their pillows; but, alas,
Honeyless days and days did he let pass;

V.
Until sweet Isabella's untouch'd cheek
Fell sick within the rose's just domain,
Fell thin as a young mother's, who doth seek
By every lull to cool her infant's pain:
'How ill she is,' said he, 'I may not speak,
'And yet I will, and tell my love all plain:
'If looks speak love-laws, I will drink her tears,
'And at the least 'twill startle off her cares.'

VI.
So said he one fair morning, and all day
His heart beat awfully against his side;
And to his heart he inwardly did pray
For power to speak; but still the ruddy tide
Stifled his voice, and puls'd resolve away-
Fever'd his high conceit of such a bride,
Yet brought him to the meekness of a child:
Alas! when passion is both meek and wild!

VII.
So once more he had wak'd and anguished
A dreary night of love and misery,
If Isabel's quick eye had not been wed
To every symbol on his forehead high;
She saw it waxing very pale and dead,
And straight all flush'd; so, lisped tenderly,
'Lorenzo!'-here she ceas'd her timid quest,
But in her tone and look he read the rest.

VIII.
'O Isabella, I can half perceive
'That I may speak my grief into thine ear;
'If thou didst ever any thing believe,
'Believe how I love thee, believe how near
'My soul is to its doom: I would not grieve
'Thy hand by unwelcome pressing, would not fear
'Thine eyes by gazing; but I cannot live
'Another night, and not my passion shrive.

IX.
'Love! thou art leading me from wintry cold,
'Lady! thou leadest me to summer clime,
'And I must taste the blossoms that unfold
'In its ripe warmth this gracious morning time.'
So said, his erewhile timid lips grew bold,
And poesied with hers in dewy rhyme:
Great bliss was with them, and great happiness
Grew, like a lusty flower in June's caress.

X.
Parting they seem'd to tread upon the air,
Twin roses by the zephyr blown apart
Only to meet again more close, and share
The inward fragrance of each other's heart.
She, to her chamber gone, a ditty fair
Sang, of delicious love and honey'd dart;
He with light steps went up a western hill,
And bade the sun farewell, and joy'd his fill.

XI.
All close they met again, before the dusk
Had taken from the stars its pleasant veil,
All close they met, all eves, before the dusk
Had taken from the stars its pleasant veil,
Close in a bower of hyacinth and musk,
Unknown of any, free from whispering tale.
Ah! better had it been for ever so,
Than idle ears should pleasure in their woe.

XII.
Were they unhappy then?-It cannot be-
Too many tears for lovers have been shed,
Too many sighs give we to them in fee,
Too much of pity after they are dead,
Too many doleful stories do we see,
Whose matter in bright gold were best be read;
Except in such a page where Theseus' spouse
Over the pathless waves towards him bows.

XIII.
But, for the general award of love,
The little sweet doth kill much bitterness;
Though Dido silent is in under-grove,
And Isabella's was a great distress,
Though young Lorenzo in warm Indian clove
Was not embalm'd, this truth is not the less-
Even bees, the little almsmen of spring-bowers,
Know there is richest juice in poison-flowers.

XIV.
With her two brothers this fair lady dwelt,
Enriched from ancestral merchandize,
And for them many a weary hand did swelt
In torched mines and noisy factories,
And many once proud-quiver'd loins did melt
In blood from stinging whip;-with hollow eyes
Many all day in dazzling river stood,
To take the rich-ored driftings of the flood.

XV.
For them the Ceylon diver held his breath,
And went all naked to the hungry shark;
For them his ears gush'd blood; for them in death
The seal on the cold ice with piteous bark
Lay full of darts; for them alone did seethe
A thousand men in troubles wide and dark:
Half-ignorant, they turn'd an easy wheel,
That set sharp racks at work, to pinch and peel.

XVI.
Why were they proud? Because their marble founts
Gush'd with more pride than do a wretch's tears?-
Why were they proud? Because fair orange-mounts
Were of more soft ascent than lazar stairs?-
Why were they proud? Because red-lin'd accounts
Were richer than the songs of Grecian years?-
Why were they proud? again we ask aloud,
Why in the name of Glory were they proud?

XVII.
Yet were these Florentines as self-retired
In hungry pride and gainful cowardice,
As two close Hebrews in that land inspired,
Paled in and vineyarded from beggar-spies,
The hawks of ship-mast forests-the untired
And pannier'd mules for ducats and old lies-
Quick cat's-paws on the generous stray-away,-
Great wits in Spanish, Tuscan, and Malay.

XVIII.
How was it these same ledger-men could spy
Fair Isabella in her downy nest?
How could they find out in Lorenzo's eye
A straying from his toil? Hot Egypt's pest
Into their vision covetous and sly!
How could these money-bags see east and west?-
Yet so they did-and every dealer fair
Must see behind, as doth the hunted hare.

XIX.
O eloquent and famed Boccaccio!
Of thee we now should ask forgiving boon,
And of thy spicy myrtles as they blow,
And of thy roses amorous of the moon,
And of thy lilies, that do paler grow
Now they can no more hear thy ghittern's tune,
For venturing syllables that ill beseem
The quiet glooms of such a piteous theme.

XX.
Grant thou a pardon here, and then the tale
Shall move on soberly, as it is meet;
There is no other crime, no mad assail
To make old prose in modern rhyme more sweet:
But it is done-succeed the verse or fail-
To honour thee, and thy gone spirit greet;
To stead thee as a verse in English tongue,
An echo of thee in the north-wind sung.

XXI.
These brethren having found by many signs
What love Lorenzo for their sister had,
And how she lov'd him too, each unconfines
His bitter thoughts to other, well nigh mad
That he, the servant of their trade designs,
Should in their sister's love be blithe and glad,
When 'twas their plan to coax her by degrees
To some high noble and his olive-trees.

XXII.
And many a jealous conference had they,
And many times they bit their lips alone,
Before they fix'd upon a surest way
To make the youngster for his crime atone;
And at the last, these men of cruel clay
Cut Mercy with a sharp knife to the bone;
For they resolved in some forest dim
To kill Lorenzo, and there bury him.

XXIII.
So on a pleasant morning, as he leant
Into the sun-rise, o'er the balustrade
Of the garden-terrace, towards him they bent
Their footing through the dews; and to him said,
'You seem there in the quiet of content,
'Lorenzo, and we are most loth to invade
'Calm speculation; but if you are wise,
'Bestride your steed while cold is in the skies.

XXIV.
'To-day we purpose, ay, this hour we mount
'To spur three leagues towards the Apennine;
'Come down, we pray thee, ere the hot sun count
'His dewy rosary on the eglantine.'
Lorenzo, courteously as he was wont,
Bow'd a fair greeting to these serpents' whine;
And went in haste, to get in readiness,
With belt, and spur, and bracing huntsman's dress.

XXV.
And as he to the court-yard pass'd along,
Each third step did he pause, and listen'd oft
If he could hear his lady's matin-song,
Or the light whisper of her footstep soft;
And as he thus over his passion hung,
He heard a laugh full musical aloft;
When, looking up, he saw her features bright
Smile through an in-door lattice, all delight.

XXVI.
'Love, Isabel!' said he, 'I was in pain
'Lest I should miss to bid thee a good morrow:
'Ah! what if I should lose thee, when so fain
'I am to stifle all the heavy sorrow
'Of a poor three hours' absence? but we'll gain
'Out of the amorous dark what day doth borrow.
'Good bye! I'll soon be back.'-'Good bye!' said she:-
And as he went she chanted merrily.

XXVII.
So the two brothers and their murder'd man
Rode past fair Florence, to where Arno's stream
Gurgles through straiten'd banks, and still doth fan
Itself with dancing bulrush, and the bream
Keeps head against the freshets. Sick and wan
The brothers' faces in the ford did seem,
Lorenzo's flush with love.-They pass'd the water
Into a forest quiet for the slaughter.

XXVIII.
There was Lorenzo slain and buried in,
There in that forest did his great love cease;
Ah! when a soul doth thus its freedom win,
It aches in loneliness-is ill at peace
As the break-covert blood-hounds of such sin:
They dipp'd their swords in the water, and did tease
Their horses homeward, with convulsed spur,
Each richer by his being a murderer.

XXIX.
They told their sister how, with sudden speed,
Lorenzo had ta'en ship for foreign lands,
Because of some great urgency and need
In their affairs, requiring trusty hands.
Poor Girl! put on thy stifling widow's weed,
And 'scape at once from Hope's accursed bands;
To-day thou wilt not see him, nor to-morrow,
And the next day will be a day of sorrow.

XXX.
She weeps alone for pleasures not to be;
Sorely she wept until the night came on,
And then, instead of love, O misery!
She brooded o'er the luxury alone:
His image in the dusk she seem'd to see,
And to the silence made a gentle moan,
Spreading her perfect arms upon the air,
And on her couch low murmuring, 'Where? O where?'

XXXI.
But Selfishness, Love's cousin, held not long
Its fiery vigil in her single breast;
She fretted for the golden hour, and hung
Upon the time with feverish unrest-
Not long-for soon into her heart a throng
Of higher occupants, a richer zest,
Came tragic; passion not to be subdued,
And sorrow for her love in travels rude.

XXXII.
In the mid days of autumn, on their eves
The breath of Winter comes from far away,
And the sick west continually bereaves
Of some gold tinge, and plays a roundelay
Of death among the bushes and the leaves,
To make all bare before he dares to stray
From his north cavern. So sweet Isabel
By gradual decay from beauty fell,

XXXIII.
Because Lorenzo came not. Oftentimes
She ask'd her brothers, with an eye all pale,
Striving to be itself, what dungeon climes
Could keep him off so long? They spake a tale
Time after time, to quiet her. Their crimes
Came on them, like a smoke from Hinnom's vale;
And every night in dreams they groan'd aloud,
To see their sister in her snowy shroud.

XXXIV.
And she had died in drowsy ignorance,
But for a thing more deadly dark than all;
It came like a fierce potion, drunk by chance,
Which saves a sick man from the feather'd pall
For some few gasping moments; like a lance,
Waking an Indian from his cloudy hall
With cruel pierce, and bringing him again
Sense of the gnawing fire at heart and brain.

XXXV.
It was a vision.-In the drowsy gloom,
The dull of midnight, at her couch's foot
Lorenzo stood, and wept: the forest tomb
Had marr'd his glossy hair which once could shoot
Lustre into the sun, and put cold doom
Upon his lips, and taken the soft lute
From his lorn voice, and past his loamed ears
Had made a miry channel for his tears.

XXXVI.
Strange sound it was, when the pale shadow spake;
For there was striving, in its piteous tongue,
To speak as when on earth it was awake,
And Isabella on its music hung:
Languor there was in it, and tremulous shake,
As in a palsied Druid's harp unstrung;
And through it moan'd a ghostly under-song,
Like hoarse night-gusts sepulchral briars among.

XXXVII.
Its eyes, though wild, were still all dewy bright
With love, and kept all phantom fear aloof
From the poor girl by magic of their light,
The while it did unthread the horrid woof
Of the late darken'd time,-the murderous spite
Of pride and avarice,-the dark pine roof
In the forest,-and the sodden turfed dell,
Where, without any word, from stabs he fell.

XXXVIII.
Saying moreover, 'Isabel, my sweet!
'Red whortle-berries droop above my head,
'And a large flint-stone weighs upon my feet;
'Around me beeches and high chestnuts shed
'Their leaves and prickly nuts; a sheep-fold bleat
'Comes from beyond the river to my bed:
'Go, shed one tear upon my heather-bloom,
'And it shall comfort me within the tomb.

XXXIX.
'I am a shadow now, alas! alas!
'Upon the skirts of human-nature dwelling
'Alone: I chant alone the holy mass,
'While little sounds of life are round me knelling,
'And glossy bees at noon do fieldward pass,
'And many a chapel bell the hour is telling,
'Paining me through: those sounds grow strange to me,
'And thou art distant in Humanity.

XL.
'I know what was, I feel full well what is,
'And I should rage, if spirits could go mad;
'Though I forget the taste of earthly bliss,
'That paleness warms my grave, as though I had
'A Seraph chosen from the bright abyss
'To be my spouse: thy paleness makes me glad;
'Thy beauty grows upon me, and I feel
'A greater love through all my essence steal.'

XLI.
The Spirit mourn'd 'Adieu!'-dissolv'd, and left
The atom darkness in a slow turmoil;
As when of healthful midnight sleep bereft,
Thinking on rugged hours and fruitless toil,
We put our eyes into a pillowy cleft,
And see the spangly gloom froth up and boil:
It made sad Isabella's eyelids ache,
And in the dawn she started up awake;

XLII.
'Ha! ha!' said she, 'I knew not this hard life,
'I thought the worst was simple misery;
'I thought some Fate with pleasure or with strife
'Portion'd us-happy days, or else to die;
'But there is crime-a brother's bloody knife!
'Sweet Spirit, thou hast school'd my infancy:
'I'll visit thee for this, and kiss thine eyes,
'And greet thee morn and even in the skies.'

XLIII.
When the full morning came, she had devised
How she might secret to the forest hie;
How she might find the clay, so dearly prized,
And sing to it one latest lullaby;
How her short absence might be unsurmised,
While she the inmost of the dream would try.
Resolv'd, she took with her an aged nurse,
And went into that dismal forest-hearse.

XLIV.
See, as they creep along the river side,
How she doth whisper to that aged Dame,
And, after looking round the champaign wide,
Shows her a knife.-'What feverous hectic flame
'Burns in thee, child?-What good can thee betide,
'That thou should'st smile again?'-The evening came,
And they had found Lorenzo's earthy bed;
The flint was there, the berries at his head.

XLV.
Who hath not loiter'd in a green church-yard,
And let his spirit, like a demon-mole,
Work through the clayey soil and gravel hard,
To see skull, coffin'd bones, and funeral stole;
Pitying each form that hungry Death hath marr'd,
And filling it once more with human soul?
Ah! this is holiday to what was felt
When Isabella by Lorenzo knelt.

XLVI.
She gaz'd into the fresh-thrown mould, as though
One glance did fully all its secrets tell;
Clearly she saw, as other eyes would know
Pale limbs at bottom of a crystal well;
Upon the murderous spot she seem'd to grow,
Like to a native lily of the dell:
Then with her knife, all sudden, she began
To dig more fervently than misers can.

XLVII.
Soon she turn'd up a soiled glove, whereon
Her silk had play'd in purple phantasies,
She kiss'd it with a lip more chill than stone,
And put it in her bosom, where it dries
And freezes utterly unto the bone
Those dainties made to still an infant's cries:
Then 'gan she work again; nor stay'd her care,
But to throw back at times her veiling hair.

XLVIII.
That old nurse stood beside her wondering,
Until her heart felt pity to the core
At sight of such a dismal labouring,
And so she kneeled, with her locks all hoar,
And put her lean hands to the horrid thing:
Three hours they labour'd at this travail sore;
At last they felt the kernel of the grave,
And Isabella did not stamp and rave.

XLIX.
Ah! wherefore all this wormy circumstance?
Why linger at the yawning tomb so long?
O for the gentleness of old Romance,
The simple plaining of a minstrel's song!
Fair reader, at the old tale take a glance,
For here, in truth, it doth not well belong
To speak:-O turn thee to the very tale,
And taste the music of that vision pale.

L.
With duller steel than the Persèan sword
They cut away no formless monster's head,
But one, whose gentleness did well accord
With death, as life. The ancient harps have said,
Love never dies, but lives, immortal Lord:
If Love impersonate was ever dead,
Pale Isabella kiss'd it, and low moan'd.
'Twas love; cold,-dead indeed, but not dethroned.

LI.
In anxious secrecy they took it home,
And then the prize was all for Isabel:
She calm'd its wild hair with a golden comb,
And all around each eye's sepulchral cell
Pointed each fringed lash; the smeared loam
With tears, as chilly as a dripping well,
She drench'd away:-and still she comb'd, and kept
Sighing all day-and still she kiss'd, and wept.

LII.
Then in a silken scarf,-sweet with the dews
Of precious flowers pluck'd in Araby,
And divine liquids come with odorous ooze
Through the cold serpent pipe refreshfully,-
She wrapp'd it up; and for its tomb did choose
A garden-pot, wherein she laid it by,
And cover'd it with mould, and o'er it set
Sweet Basil, which her tears kept ever wet.

LIII.
And she forgot the stars, the moon, and sun,
And she forgot the blue above the trees,
And she forgot the dells where waters run,
And she forgot the chilly autumn breeze;
She had no knowledge when the day was done,
And the new morn she saw not: but in peace
Hung over her sweet Basil evermore,
And moisten'd it with tears unto the core.

LIV.
And so she ever fed it with thin tears,
Whence thick, and green, and beautiful it grew,
So that it smelt more balmy than its peers
Of Basil-tufts in Florence; for it drew
Nurture besides, and life, from human fears,
From the fast mouldering head there shut from view:
So that the jewel, safely casketed,
Came forth, and in perfumed leafits spread.

LV.
O Melancholy, linger here awhile!
O Music, Music, breathe despondingly!
O Echo, Echo, from some sombre isle,
Unknown, Lethean, sigh to us-O sigh!
Spirits in grief, lift up your heads, and smile;
Lift up your heads, sweet Spirits, heavily,
And make a pale light in your cypress glooms,
Tinting with silver wan your marble tombs.

LVI.
Moan hither, all ye syllables of woe,
From the deep throat of sad Melpomene!
Through bronzed lyre in tragic order go,
And touch the strings into a mystery;
Sound mournfully upon the winds and low;
For simple Isabel is soon to be
Among the dead: She withers, like a palm
Cut by an Indian for its juicy balm.

LVII.
O leave the palm to wither by itself;
Let not quick Winter chill its dying hour!-
It may not be-those Baalites of pelf,
Her brethren, noted the continual shower
From her dead eyes; and many a curious elf,
Among her kindred, wonder'd that such dower
Of youth and beauty should be thrown aside
By one mark'd out to be a Noble's bride.

LVIII.
And, furthermore, her brethren wonder'd much
Why she sat drooping by the Basil green,
And why it flourish'd, as by magic touch;
Greatly they wonder'd what the thing might mean:
They could not surely give belief, that such
A very nothing would have power to wean
Her from her own fair youth, and pleasures gay,
And even remembrance of her love's delay.

LIX.
Therefore they watch'd a time when they might sift
This hidden whim; and long they watch'd in vain;
For seldom did she go to chapel-shrift,
And seldom felt she any hunger-pain;
And when she left, she hurried back, as swift
As bird on wing to breast its eggs again;
And, patient as a hen-bird, sat her there
Beside her Basil, weeping through her hair.

LX.
Yet they contriv'd to steal the Basil-pot,
And to examine it in secret place:
The thing was vile with green and livid spot,
And yet they knew it was Lorenzo's face:
The guerdon of their murder they had got,
And so left Florence in a moment's space,
Never to turn again.-Away they went,
With blood upon their heads, to banishment.

LXI.
O Melancholy, turn thine eyes away!
O Music, Music, breathe despondingly!
O Echo, Echo, on some other day,
From isles Lethean, sigh to us-O sigh!
Spirits of grief, sing not your 'Well-a-way!'
For Isabel, sweet Isabel, will die;
Will die a death too lone and incomplete,
Now they have ta'en away her Basil sweet.

LXII.
Piteous she look'd on dead and senseless things,
Asking for her lost Basil amorously:
And with melodious chuckle in the strings
Of her lorn voice, she oftentimes would cry
After the Pilgrim in his wanderings,
To ask him where her Basil was; and why
'Twas hid from her: 'For cruel 'tis,' said she,
'To steal my Basil-pot away from me.'

LXIII.
And so she pined, and so she died forlorn,
Imploring for her Basil to the last.
No heart was there in Florence but did mourn
In pity of her love, so overcast.
And a sad ditty of this story born
From mouth to mouth through all the country pass'd:
Still is the burthen sung-'O cruelty,
'To steal my Basil-pot away from me!'

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John Keats

Isabella or The Pot of Basil

I.
Fair Isabel, poor simple Isabel!
Lorenzo, a young palmer in Love's eye!
They could not in the self-same mansion dwell
Without some stir of heart, some malady;
They could not sit at meals but feel how well
It soothed each to be the other by;
They could not, sure, beneath the same roof sleep
But to each other dream, and nightly weep.

II.
With every morn their love grew tenderer,
With every eve deeper and tenderer still;
He might not in house, field, or garden stir,
But her full shape would all his seeing fill;
And his continual voice was pleasanter
To her, than noise of trees or hidden rill;
Her lute-string gave an echo of his name,
She spoilt her half-done broidery with the same.

III.
He knew whose gentle hand was at the latch,
Before the door had given her to his eyes;
And from her chamber-window he would catch
Her beauty farther than the falcon spies;
And constant as her vespers would he watch,
Because her face was turn'd to the same skies;
And with sick longing all the night outwear,
To hear her morning-step upon the stair.

IV.
A whole long month of May in this sad plight
Made their cheeks paler by the break of June:
"To morrow will I bow to my delight,
"To-morrow will I ask my lady's boon."--
"O may I never see another night,
"Lorenzo, if thy lips breathe not love's tune."--
So spake they to their pillows; but, alas,
Honeyless days and days did he let pass;

V.
Until sweet Isabella's untouch'd cheek
Fell sick within the rose's just domain,
Fell thin as a young mother's, who doth seek
By every lull to cool her infant's pain:
"How ill she is," said he, "I may not speak,
"And yet I will, and tell my love all plain:
"If looks speak love-laws, I will drink her tears,
"And at the least 'twill startle off her cares."

VI.
So said he one fair morning, and all day
His heart beat awfully against his side;
And to his heart he inwardly did pray
For power to speak; but still the ruddy tide
Stifled his voice, and puls'd resolve away--
Fever'd his high conceit of such a bride,
Yet brought him to the meekness of a child:
Alas! when passion is both meek and wild!

VII.
So once more he had wak'd and anguished
A dreary night of love and misery,
If Isabel's quick eye had not been wed
To every symbol on his forehead high;
She saw it waxing very pale and dead,
And straight all flush'd; so, lisped tenderly,
"Lorenzo!"--here she ceas'd her timid quest,
But in her tone and look he read the rest.

VIII.
"O Isabella, I can half perceive
"That I may speak my grief into thine ear;
"If thou didst ever any thing believe,
"Believe how I love thee, believe how near
"My soul is to its doom: I would not grieve
"Thy hand by unwelcome pressing, would not fear
"Thine eyes by gazing; but I cannot live
"Another night, and not my passion shrive.

IX.
"Love! thou art leading me from wintry cold,
"Lady! thou leadest me to summer clime,
"And I must taste the blossoms that unfold
"In its ripe warmth this gracious morning time."
So said, his erewhile timid lips grew bold,
And poesied with hers in dewy rhyme:
Great bliss was with them, and great happiness
Grew, like a lusty flower in June's caress.

X.
Parting they seem'd to tread upon the air,
Twin roses by the zephyr blown apart
Only to meet again more close, and share
The inward fragrance of each other's heart.
She, to her chamber gone, a ditty fair
Sang, of delicious love and honey'd dart;
He with light steps went up a western hill,
And bade the sun farewell, and joy'd his fill.

XI.
All close they met again, before the dusk
Had taken from the stars its pleasant veil,
All close they met, all eves, before the dusk
Had taken from the stars its pleasant veil,
Close in a bower of hyacinth and musk,
Unknown of any, free from whispering tale.
Ah! better had it been for ever so,
Than idle ears should pleasure in their woe.

XII.
Were they unhappy then?--It cannot be--
Too many tears for lovers have been shed,
Too many sighs give we to them in fee,
Too much of pity after they are dead,
Too many doleful stories do we see,
Whose matter in bright gold were best be read;
Except in such a page where Theseus' spouse
Over the pathless waves towards him bows.

XIII.
But, for the general award of love,
The little sweet doth kill much bitterness;
Though Dido silent is in under-grove,
And Isabella's was a great distress,
Though young Lorenzo in warm Indian clove
Was not embalm'd, this truth is not the less--
Even bees, the little almsmen of spring-bowers,
Know there is richest juice in poison-flowers.

XIV.
With her two brothers this fair lady dwelt,
Enriched from ancestral merchandize,
And for them many a weary hand did swelt
In torched mines and noisy factories,
And many once proud-quiver'd loins did melt
In blood from stinging whip;--with hollow eyes
Many all day in dazzling river stood,
To take the rich-ored driftings of the flood.

XV.
For them the Ceylon diver held his breath,
And went all naked to the hungry shark;
For them his ears gush'd blood; for them in death
The seal on the cold ice with piteous bark
Lay full of darts; for them alone did seethe
A thousand men in troubles wide and dark:
Half-ignorant, they turn'd an easy wheel,
That set sharp racks at work, to pinch and peel.

XVI.
Why were they proud? Because their marble founts
Gush'd with more pride than do a wretch's tears?--
Why were they proud? Because fair orange-mounts
Were of more soft ascent than lazar stairs?--
Why were they proud? Because red-lin'd accounts
Were richer than the songs of Grecian years?--
Why were they proud? again we ask aloud,
Why in the name of Glory were they proud?

XVII.
Yet were these Florentines as self-retired
In hungry pride and gainful cowardice,
As two close Hebrews in that land inspired,
Paled in and vineyarded from beggar-spies,
The hawks of ship-mast forests--the untired
And pannier'd mules for ducats and old lies--
Quick cat's-paws on the generous stray-away,--
Great wits in Spanish, Tuscan, and Malay.

XVIII.
How was it these same ledger-men could spy
Fair Isabella in her downy nest?
How could they find out in Lorenzo's eye
A straying from his toil? Hot Egypt's pest
Into their vision covetous and sly!
How could these money-bags see east and west?--
Yet so they did--and every dealer fair
Must see behind, as doth the hunted hare.

XIX.
O eloquent and famed Boccaccio!
Of thee we now should ask forgiving boon,
And of thy spicy myrtles as they blow,
And of thy roses amorous of the moon,
And of thy lilies, that do paler grow
Now they can no more hear thy ghittern's tune,
For venturing syllables that ill beseem
The quiet glooms of such a piteous theme.

XX.
Grant thou a pardon here, and then the tale
Shall move on soberly, as it is meet;
There is no other crime, no mad assail
To make old prose in modern rhyme more sweet:
But it is done--succeed the verse or fail--
To honour thee, and thy gone spirit greet;
To stead thee as a verse in English tongue,
An echo of thee in the north-wind sung.

XXI.
These brethren having found by many signs
What love Lorenzo for their sister had,
And how she lov'd him too, each unconfines
His bitter thoughts to other, well nigh mad
That he, the servant of their trade designs,
Should in their sister's love be blithe and glad,
When 'twas their plan to coax her by degrees
To some high noble and his olive-trees.

XXII.
And many a jealous conference had they,
And many times they bit their lips alone,
Before they fix'd upon a surest way
To make the youngster for his crime atone;
And at the last, these men of cruel clay
Cut Mercy with a sharp knife to the bone;
For they resolved in some forest dim
To kill Lorenzo, and there bury him.

XXIII.
So on a pleasant morning, as he leant
Into the sun-rise, o'er the balustrade
Of the garden-terrace, towards him they bent
Their footing through the dews; and to him said,
"You seem there in the quiet of content,
"Lorenzo, and we are most loth to invade
"Calm speculation; but if you are wise,
"Bestride your steed while cold is in the skies.

XXIV.
"To-day we purpose, ay, this hour we mount
"To spur three leagues towards the Apennine;
"Come down, we pray thee, ere the hot sun count
"His dewy rosary on the eglantine."
Lorenzo, courteously as he was wont,
Bow'd a fair greeting to these serpents' whine;
And went in haste, to get in readiness,
With belt, and spur, and bracing huntsman's dress.

XXV.
And as he to the court-yard pass'd along,
Each third step did he pause, and listen'd oft
If he could hear his lady's matin-song,
Or the light whisper of her footstep soft;
And as he thus over his passion hung,
He heard a laugh full musical aloft;
When, looking up, he saw her features bright
Smile through an in-door lattice, all delight.

XXVI.
"Love, Isabel!" said he, "I was in pain
"Lest I should miss to bid thee a good morrow:
"Ah! what if I should lose thee, when so fain
"I am to stifle all the heavy sorrow
"Of a poor three hours' absence? but we'll gain
"Out of the amorous dark what day doth borrow.
"Good bye! I'll soon be back."--"Good bye!" said she:--
And as he went she chanted merrily.

XXVII.
So the two brothers and their murder'd man
Rode past fair Florence, to where Arno's stream
Gurgles through straiten'd banks, and still doth fan
Itself with dancing bulrush, and the bream
Keeps head against the freshets. Sick and wan
The brothers' faces in the ford did seem,
Lorenzo's flush with love.--They pass'd the water
Into a forest quiet for the slaughter.

XXVIII.
There was Lorenzo slain and buried in,
There in that forest did his great love cease;
Ah! when a soul doth thus its freedom win,
It aches in loneliness--is ill at peace
As the break-covert blood-hounds of such sin:
They dipp'd their swords in the water, and did tease
Their horses homeward, with convulsed spur,
Each richer by his being a murderer.

XXIX.
They told their sister how, with sudden speed,
Lorenzo had ta'en ship for foreign lands,
Because of some great urgency and need
In their affairs, requiring trusty hands.
Poor Girl! put on thy stifling widow's weed,
And 'scape at once from Hope's accursed bands;
To-day thou wilt not see him, nor to-morrow,
And the next day will be a day of sorrow.

XXX.
She weeps alone for pleasures not to be;
Sorely she wept until the night came on,
And then, instead of love, O misery!
She brooded o'er the luxury alone:
His image in the dusk she seem'd to see,
And to the silence made a gentle moan,
Spreading her perfect arms upon the air,
And on her couch low murmuring, "Where? O where?"

XXXI.
But Selfishness, Love's cousin, held not long
Its fiery vigil in her single breast;
She fretted for the golden hour, and hung
Upon the time with feverish unrest--
Not long--for soon into her heart a throng
Of higher occupants, a richer zest,
Came tragic; passion not to be subdued,
And sorrow for her love in travels rude.

XXXII.
In the mid days of autumn, on their eves
The breath of Winter comes from far away,
And the sick west continually bereaves
Of some gold tinge, and plays a roundelay
Of death among the bushes and the leaves,
To make all bare before he dares to stray
From his north cavern. So sweet Isabel
By gradual decay from beauty fell,

XXXIII.
Because Lorenzo came not. Oftentimes
She ask'd her brothers, with an eye all pale,
Striving to be itself, what dungeon climes
Could keep him off so long? They spake a tale
Time after time, to quiet her. Their crimes
Came on them, like a smoke from Hinnom's vale;
And every night in dreams they groan'd aloud,
To see their sister in her snowy shroud.

XXXIV.
And she had died in drowsy ignorance,
But for a thing more deadly dark than all;
It came like a fierce potion, drunk by chance,
Which saves a sick man from the feather'd pall
For some few gasping moments; like a lance,
Waking an Indian from his cloudy hall
With cruel pierce, and bringing him again
Sense of the gnawing fire at heart and brain.

XXXV.
It was a vision.--In the drowsy gloom,
The dull of midnight, at her couch's foot
Lorenzo stood, and wept: the forest tomb
Had marr'd his glossy hair which once could shoot
Lustre into the sun, and put cold doom
Upon his lips, and taken the soft lute
From his lorn voice, and past his loamed ears
Had made a miry channel for his tears.

XXXVI.
Strange sound it was, when the pale shadow spake;
For there was striving, in its piteous tongue,
To speak as when on earth it was awake,
And Isabella on its music hung:
Languor there was in it, and tremulous shake,
As in a palsied Druid's harp unstrung;
And through it moan'd a ghostly under-song,
Like hoarse night-gusts sepulchral briars among.

XXXVII.
Its eyes, though wild, were still all dewy bright
With love, and kept all phantom fear aloof
From the poor girl by magic of their light,
The while it did unthread the horrid woof
Of the late darken'd time,--the murderous spite
Of pride and avarice,--the dark pine roof
In the forest,--and the sodden turfed dell,
Where, without any word, from stabs he fell.

XXXVIII.
Saying moreover, "Isabel, my sweet!
"Red whortle-berries droop above my head,
"And a large flint-stone weighs upon my feet;
"Around me beeches and high chestnuts shed
"Their leaves and prickly nuts; a sheep-fold bleat
"Comes from beyond the river to my bed:
"Go, shed one tear upon my heather-bloom,
"And it shall comfort me within the tomb.

XXXIX.
"I am a shadow now, alas! alas!
"Upon the skirts of human-nature dwelling
"Alone: I chant alone the holy mass,
"While little sounds of life are round me knelling,
"And glossy bees at noon do fieldward pass,
"And many a chapel bell the hour is telling,
"Paining me through: those sounds grow strange to me,
"And thou art distant in Humanity.

XL.
"I know what was, I feel full well what is,
"And I should rage, if spirits could go mad;
"Though I forget the taste of earthly bliss,
"That paleness warms my grave, as though I had
"A Seraph chosen from the bright abyss
"To be my spouse: thy paleness makes me glad;
"Thy beauty grows upon me, and I feel
"A greater love through all my essence steal."

XLI.
The Spirit mourn'd "Adieu!"--dissolv'd, and left
The atom darkness in a slow turmoil;
As when of healthful midnight sleep bereft,
Thinking on rugged hours and fruitless toil,
We put our eyes into a pillowy cleft,
And see the spangly gloom froth up and boil:
It made sad Isabella's eyelids ache,
And in the dawn she started up awake;

XLII.
"Ha! ha!" said she, "I knew not this hard life,
"I thought the worst was simple misery;
"I thought some Fate with pleasure or with strife
"Portion'd us--happy days, or else to die;
"But there is crime--a brother's bloody knife!
"Sweet Spirit, thou hast school'd my infancy:
"I'll visit thee for this, and kiss thine eyes,
"And greet thee morn and even in the skies."

XLIII.
When the full morning came, she had devised
How she might secret to the forest hie;
How she might find the clay, so dearly prized,
And sing to it one latest lullaby;
How her short absence might be unsurmised,
While she the inmost of the dream would try.
Resolv'd, she took with her an aged nurse,
And went into that dismal forest-hearse.

XLIV.
See, as they creep along the river side,
How she doth whisper to that aged Dame,
And, after looking round the champaign wide,
Shows her a knife.--"What feverous hectic flame
"Burns in thee, child?--What good can thee betide,
"That thou should'st smile again?"--The evening came,
And they had found Lorenzo's earthy bed;
The flint was there, the berries at his head.

XLV.
Who hath not loiter'd in a green church-yard,
And let his spirit, like a demon-mole,
Work through the clayey soil and gravel hard,
To see skull, coffin'd bones, and funeral stole;
Pitying each form that hungry Death hath marr'd,
And filling it once more with human soul?
Ah! this is holiday to what was felt
When Isabella by Lorenzo knelt.

XLVI.
She gaz'd into the fresh-thrown mould, as though
One glance did fully all its secrets tell;
Clearly she saw, as other eyes would know
Pale limbs at bottom of a crystal well;
Upon the murderous spot she seem'd to grow,
Like to a native lily of the dell:
Then with her knife, all sudden, she began
To dig more fervently than misers can.

XLVII.
Soon she turn'd up a soiled glove, whereon
Her silk had play'd in purple phantasies,
She kiss'd it with a lip more chill than stone,
And put it in her bosom, where it dries
And freezes utterly unto the bone
Those dainties made to still an infant's cries:
Then 'gan she work again; nor stay'd her care,
But to throw back at times her veiling hair.

XLVIII.
That old nurse stood beside her wondering,
Until her heart felt pity to the core
At sight of such a dismal labouring,
And so she kneeled, with her locks all hoar,
And put her lean hands to the horrid thing:
Three hours they labour'd at this travail sore;
At last they felt the kernel of the grave,
And Isabella did not stamp and rave.

XLIX.
Ah! wherefore all this wormy circumstance?
Why linger at the yawning tomb so long?
O for the gentleness of old Romance,
The simple plaining of a minstrel's song!
Fair reader, at the old tale take a glance,
For here, in truth, it doth not well belong
To speak:--O turn thee to the very tale,
And taste the music of that vision pale.

L.
With duller steel than the Persèan sword
They cut away no formless monster's head,
But one, whose gentleness did well accord
With death, as life. The ancient harps have said,
Love never dies, but lives, immortal Lord:
If Love impersonate was ever dead,
Pale Isabella kiss'd it, and low moan'd.
'Twas love; cold,--dead indeed, but not dethroned.

LI.
In anxious secrecy they took it home,
And then the prize was all for Isabel:
She calm'd its wild hair with a golden comb,
And all around each eye's sepulchral cell
Pointed each fringed lash; the smeared loam
With tears, as chilly as a dripping well,
She drench'd away:--and still she comb'd, and kept
Sighing all day--and still she kiss'd, and wept.

LII.
Then in a silken scarf,--sweet with the dews
Of precious flowers pluck'd in Araby,
And divine liquids come with odorous ooze
Through the cold serpent pipe refreshfully,--
She wrapp'd it up; and for its tomb did choose
A garden-pot, wherein she laid it by,
And cover'd it with mould, and o'er it set
Sweet Basil, which her tears kept ever wet.

LIII.
And she forgot the stars, the moon, and sun,
And she forgot the blue above the trees,
And she forgot the dells where waters run,
And she forgot the chilly autumn breeze;
She had no knowledge when the day was done,
And the new morn she saw not: but in peace
Hung over her sweet Basil evermore,
And moisten'd it with tears unto the core.

LIV.
And so she ever fed it with thin tears,
Whence thick, and green, and beautiful it grew,
So that it smelt more balmy than its peers
Of Basil-tufts in Florence; for it drew
Nurture besides, and life, from human fears,
From the fast mouldering head there shut from view:
So that the jewel, safely casketed,
Came forth, and in perfumed leafits spread.

LV.
O Melancholy, linger here awhile!
O Music, Music, breathe despondingly!
O Echo, Echo, from some sombre isle,
Unknown, Lethean, sigh to us--O sigh!
Spirits in grief, lift up your heads, and smile;
Lift up your heads, sweet Spirits, heavily,
And make a pale light in your cypress glooms,
Tinting with silver wan your marble tombs.

LVI.
Moan hither, all ye syllables of woe,
From the deep throat of sad Melpomene!
Through bronzed lyre in tragic order go,
And touch the strings into a mystery;
Sound mournfully upon the winds and low;
For simple Isabel is soon to be
Among the dead: She withers, like a palm
Cut by an Indian for its juicy balm.

LVII.
O leave the palm to wither by itself;
Let not quick Winter chill its dying hour!--
It may not be--those Baalites of pelf,
Her brethren, noted the continual shower
From her dead eyes; and many a curious elf,
Among her kindred, wonder'd that such dower
Of youth and beauty should be thrown aside
By one mark'd out to be a Noble's bride.

LVIII.
And, furthermore, her brethren wonder'd much
Why she sat drooping by the Basil green,
And why it flourish'd, as by magic touch;
Greatly they wonder'd what the thing might mean:
They could not surely give belief, that such
A very nothing would have power to wean
Her from her own fair youth, and pleasures gay,
And even remembrance of her love's delay.

LIX.
Therefore they watch'd a time when they might sift
This hidden whim; and long they watch'd in vain;
For seldom did she go to chapel-shrift,
And seldom felt she any hunger-pain;
And when she left, she hurried back, as swift
As bird on wing to breast its eggs again;
And, patient as a hen-bird, sat her there
Beside her Basil, weeping through her hair.

LX.
Yet they contriv'd to steal the Basil-pot,
And to examine it in secret place:
The thing was vile with green and livid spot,
And yet they knew it was Lorenzo's face:
The guerdon of their murder they had got,
And so left Florence in a moment's space,
Never to turn again.--Away they went,
With blood upon their heads, to banishment.

LXI.
O Melancholy, turn thine eyes away!
O Music, Music, breathe despondingly!
O Echo, Echo, on some other day,
From isles Lethean, sigh to us--O sigh!
Spirits of grief, sing not your "Well-a-way!"
For Isabel, sweet Isabel, will die;
Will die a death too lone and incomplete,
Now they have ta'en away her Basil sweet.

LXII.
Piteous she look'd on dead and senseless things,
Asking for her lost Basil amorously:
And with melodious chuckle in the strings
Of her lorn voice, she oftentimes would cry
After the Pilgrim in his wanderings,
To ask him where her Basil was; and why
'Twas hid from her: "For cruel 'tis," said she,
"To steal my Basil-pot away from me."

LXIII.
And so she pined, and so she died forlorn,
Imploring for her Basil to the last.
No heart was there in Florence but did mourn
In pity of her love, so overcast.
And a sad ditty of this story born
From mouth to mouth through all the country pass'd:
Still is the burthen sung--"O cruelty,
"To steal my Basil-pot away from me!"

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Autumn Leaves

From green to yellow
Singing tunes so mellow
They're falling down the ground
Spreading music around.

They' ve relished the Summer days
Hosting hot sun rays
Witnessing melodies at night
Dwelling in everyone's heart.

They' ll be scattered around
By the Autumn winds blown
But their trees stand still
Until the next year's blossoming will.

Nov.2011

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Autumn In July

It was a cool July and it was dusk.
The gentle winds that blew,
brushed the Autumn of your hair.

And a mist, as like in Autumn, touch
your face, as I stood still.

I could not help but wonder, as in Autumn,
are the bees yet in their hive; snuggled
closely, in their Autumn winter bed.?

An Autumn sun, hid behind the clouds above.
It knew not of this July, only of Autumn, in the air.
It knew of flowers drooping, their brightness,
now fading and curled. It knew of falling leaves,
and colors still so bright. A lone tree against a colored
sky, seemed naked in this July. With all of
this, and some to go, it must be Autumn, for this I know.

What of the woman, with the hair of Autumn?
Her eyes of Autumn color and colored clothes
the same. It can not be July, for
Autumn is abound.

Autumns every where. Circling sparrows in sky
above, swoop down, in hunt, for the final seeds
of Autumn. How could this be July,
or have the sparrows lost their way?

Surely, this is Autumn, for the chill is in they air.
And, isn't that an Autumn grass, below that
old oak tree? As the gentle Autumn winds,
carry silence for the day.

Now the mist of Autumn, are falling drops of rain.
No, not a shower in July, but an Autumn day,
now cast in gloom, against a steel gray sky.

Autumn, shall never be the same, since
that Autumn day in mid July.

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Autumn In July

It was a cool July and it was dusk.
The gentle winds that blew,
brushed the Autumn of your hair.

And a mist, as like in Autumn, touch
your face, as I stood still.

I could not help but wonder, as in Autumn,
are the bees yet in their hive; snuggled
closely, in their Autumn winter bed.?

An Autumn sun, hid behind the clouds above.
It knew not of this July, only of Autumn, in the air.
It knew of flowers drooping, their brightness,
now fading and curled. It knew of falling leaves,
and colors still so bright. A lone tree against a colored
sky, seemed naked in this July. With all of
this, and some to go, it must be Autumn, for this I know.

What of the woman, with the hair of Autumn?
Her eyes of Autumn color and colored clothes
the same. It can not be July, for
Autumn is abound.

Autumns every where. Circling sparrows in sky
above, swoop down, in hunt, for the final seeds
of Autumn. How could this be July,
or have the sparrows lost their way?

Surely, this is Autumn, for the chill is in they air.
And, isn't that an Autumn grass, below that
old oak tree? As the gentle Autumn winds,
carry silence for the day.

Now the mist of Autumn, are falling drops of rain.
No, not a shower in July, but an Autumn day,
now cast in gloom, against a steel gray sky.

Autumn, shall never be the same, since
that Autumn day in mid July.

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Autumn In July (rated in group)

It was a cool July and it was dusk.
The gentle winds that blew,
brushed the Autumn of your hair.

And a mist, as like in Autumn, touch
your face, as I stood still.

I could not help but wonder, as in Autumn,
are the bees yet in their hive; snuggled
closely, in their Autumn winter bed.?

An Autumn sun, hid behind the clouds above.
It knew not of this July, only of Autumn, in the air.
It knew of flowers drooping, their brightness,
now fading and curled. It knew of falling leaves,
and colors still so bright. A lone tree against a colored
sky, seemed naked in this July. With all of
this, and some to go, it must be Autumn, for this I know.

What of the woman, with the hair of Autumn?
Her eyes of Autumn color and colored clothes
the same. It can not be July, for
Autumn is abound.

Autumns every where. Circling sparrows in sky
above, swoop down, in hunt, for the final seeds
of Autumn. How could this be July,
or have the sparrows lost their way?

Surely, this is Autumn, for the chill is in they air.
And, isn't that an Autumn grass, below that
old oak tree? As the gentle Autumn winds,
carry silence for the day.

Now the mist of Autumn, are falling drops of rain.
No, not a shower in July, but an Autumn day,
now cast in gloom, against a steel gray sky.

Autumn, shall never be the same, since
that Autumn day in mid July.

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Autumn...Will Never Be The Same

FOR: J.L. With Love

It was a cool, July, and it was dusk.
The gentle winds that blew,
brushed the Autumn of your hair.

And a mist, as like in Autumn, touch
your face, as I stood still.

I could not help but wonder, as in Autumn,
are the bees yet in their hive? Snuggled
closely, in their Autumn winter bed.?

An Autumn sun, hid behind the clouds above.
It knew not of this July, only of Autumn, in the air.
It knew of flowers drooping, their brightness,
now fading and curled. It knew of falling leaves,
and colors still so bright. A lone tree against a colored
sky, seemed naked in this July. With all of
this, and some to go, it must be Autumn...Autumn...
Autumn, for this I know.

What of the woman, with the hair of Autumn?
Her eyes of Autumn color and colored clothes
the same. It can not be July for
Autumn is abound.

Autumns every where. Circling sparrows in sky
above, swoop down, in hunt, for the final seeds
of Autumn. How could this be July,
or has the sparrows lost their way?

Surely, this is Autumn, for the chill is in they air.
And, isn't that an Autumn grass, below that
old oak tree? As the gentle Autumn winds,
carry silence for the day.

Now the mist of Autumn, are falling drops of rain.
No, not a shower in July, but an Autumn day,
now cast in gloom, against a steel gray sky.

Autumn, shall never be the same, since
that Autumn day in mid July.

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That Autumn Day In Mid July.

It was a cool July and it was dusk.
The gentle winds that blew,
brushed the Autumn of your hair.

And a mist, as like in Autumn, touch
your face, as I stood still.
For: J.L.
The first thing I thought of on this
day was you.
_________________________________________ _

I could not help but wonder, as in Autumn,
are the bees yet in their hive; snuggled
closely, in their Autumn winter bed.?

An Autumn sun, hid behind the clouds above.
It knew not of this July, only of Autumn, in the air.
It knew of flowers drooping, their brightness,
now fading and curled. It knew of falling leaves,
and colors still so bright. A lone tree against a colored
sky, seemed naked in this July. With all of
this, and some to go, it must be Autumn, for this I know.

What of the woman, with the hair of Autumn?
Her eyes of Autumn color and colored clothes
the same. It can not be July, for
Autumn is abound.

Autumns every where. Circling sparrows in sky
above, swoop down, in hunt, for the final seeds
of Autumn. How could this be July,
or have the sparrows lost their way?

Surely, this is Autumn, for the chill is in they air.
And, isn't that an Autumn grass, below that
old oak tree? As the gentle Autumn winds,
carry silence for the day.

Now the mist of Autumn, are falling drops of rain.
No, not a shower in July, but an Autumn day,
now cast in gloom, against a steel gray sky.

Autumn, shall never be the same, since
that Autumn day in mid July.

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A Captive Throstle

Poor little mite with mottled breast,
Half-fledged, and fallen from the nest,
For whom this world hath just begun,
Who want to fly, yet scarce can run;
Why open wide your yellow beak?
Is it for hunger, or to speak-
To tell me that you fain would be
Loosed from my hand to liberty?

Well, you yourself decide your fate,
But be not too precipitate.
Which will you have? If you agree
To quit the lanes, and lodge with me,
I promise you a bed more soft,
Even than that where you aloft
First opened wondering eyes, and found
A world of green leaves all around.
When you awake, you straight shall see
A fresh turf, green and velvety,
Well of clear water, sifted seed,
All things, in short, that bird can need;
And gentle beings, far more fair
Than build on bough, or skim through air,
When all without is wet and bleak,
Laying against your cage their cheek,
To make you pipe shall coax and coo,
And bud their pretty lips at you.
And when the clammy winter rain
Drips from the roof and clouds the pane,
When windows creak and chimneys roar,
And beggars wail outside the door,
And stretch out fingers lank and thin,
You shall be safely housed within,
And through the wood-fire's flickering glow
Watch drifting leaves or driving snow,
Till Marian pulls the shutters up,
And you go sleep, and I go sup.

But now suppose I let you go,
To rains that beat, to winds that blow,
To heedless chance and prowling foe?
Mayhap this very day, alas!
You will be drowned in tangled grass:
Or, that escaped, some slinking stoat
May seize and suck your speckled throat;
Or hawk slow wheeling in the sky
Your fluttering feeble wings descry,
And, straightway downward flashing thence,
Relish and rend your innocence.
Should you survive, and glad and strong
Make autumn spring-like with your song,
You will be lured, the very first,
Where netted berries bulge and burst,
And, by their guardian caught alive,
You may, before I can arrive
To bid him not be so unsparing,
Have paid the forfeit of your daring.
Time too will come, there will not be
Berry on bush, or pod on tree,
Stripped be the hawthorn, bare the holly,
And all the boughs drip melancholy;
And you will have to scrape for food
Amid a frosty solitude.

Which shall it be? Now quick decide!
Safety confined, or peril wide?

Then did the little bird reply:
``'Tis true, as yet I scarce can fly;
But oh! it is such joy to try!
Just as you came, I was beginning
To win my wings, exult in winning;
To feel the promptings of the pinion,
The dawn of a divine dominion
Over the empty air, and over
Fields of young wheat and breadths of clover:
Pledge of a power to scale, some day,
My native elm-tree's topmost spray,
And mid the leaves and branches warm
Sing far beyond the reach of harm.
And shall I barter gift like this
For doled-out joy and measured bliss?
For a trim couch and dainty fare
Forfeit the freedom of the air?
Shall I exchange for punctual food
April's sweet loves and summer's brood;
The dewy nest 'neath twinkling stars
For crushing roof and cramping bars?
No! Come what chance or foe that may,
Menace of death this very day,
The weasel's clutch, the falcon's swoop-
What if these kill? they do not coop.
Autumn's worst ambush, winter's rage,
Are sweeter than the safest cage.''

Off, little mite! I let you fly,
And do as I would be done by.

Nature within your heart hath sown
A wisdom wiser than my own,
And from your choice I learn to prize
The birth-right of unbounded skies,
Delightful danger of being free,
Sweet sense of insecurity;
The privilege to risk one's all
On being nor captive, caged, nor thrall,
The wish to range, the wing to soar
Past space behind, through space before,
The ecstasy of unknown flight,
The doubt, the danger, the delight,
To range and roam, unchained, unvext,
Nor know what worlds will open next;
And, since Death waits both caged and free
To die, at least, of liberty.

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Patrick White

There Is One Voice

And there is one voice among many,
one I remember as mine
among so many drops of rain, so many stars,
so many leaves, flames, feathers, flowers,
and the teen-age girl in so many corners of her darkness
skeining her pencil webs across the page
to catch something, a butterfly hunting spiders
that won't understand her,
and the lovers that have sifted downstream
from the radiant watersheds of their mountain plateaus
like silt over the laryngal deltas of my saying,
black pollen of extinguished stars
I carry around in the medicine bag of my afterlife
like mystic winds to keep the sails up
like the eyelids of a blind rose.

So many skies have enthroned themselves within me over the years,
so many waves and planets and legends of darkness
and the shipwrecks and shores of the weather,
and the storms and the birds, and the shriek of the lightning,
so many dawns and sunsets
and the strutting peacocks in the twilight,
and the sumptuous nights with their illicit luminosities,
so many banners of burning straw
as I look for the one needle of light
that was the gate and the eye and the mouth and the voice
of what most closely resembled me for awhile,
before I learned how to slough my skin
and the hauntings of the black poppies who long to be clear began,
and what was one threshold for a poet in solitude
turned into a palatial labyrinth of doors
that swung on their hinges in space like birds and tongues and bells
all the homeless whose last address will be a gravestone,
all the hapless, broken wretches
who keep trying again like losing bottle-caps,
and the women who came to the mike
to sing like an ambulance,
and the atrocities, the murders, the obscenity, the weeping,
that grabbed at my throat like severed hands
to scream of the horrors and sorrows
in the bloody braille and crippled signage of slaughtered flowers.

There was a boy. He was sixteen. And a prelude
that grained him out of a black cloud
that swirled around his feet like a snakepit
and pearled him into an eclipse
that time held up to the moon like a crow,
like a telescope silvered by the eyes of the night,
a black mirror that parted the veils of the obvious
like a woman's legs
and went looking like a silo of infinite space
that echoed like a famine
into what he was the name of.

And he discovered he was nothing but the shadow of the world,
deaf mailmen, reluctant debutantes, car thieves
with the souls of hunted deer,
hookers whose blood glowed like neon
to fill the pleading mouths of a nest of empty wallets,
and the arrogant, the boring, the vicious,
the scholastic tidal pools who conjectured
about the existence of the great sea of being
that overwhelmed them day and night,
and the arsonists who walked in the rain of their distant exile
playing with their hearts like matches,
and the bruised violets who hide their eyes
under the sodden leaf of an autumn journal
that reads like the last ocean on the moon,
and the treacherous, the bitter, the liars
whose quivers of feathered asps
broke like arrows against the stone lions of the truth,
and the assassins who waited
like the thorn of a sundial to blood their shadows
in the eyeless witnesses of the crimes of noon
and the reformers who wanted to cover the earth in leather,
put shoes on the world
and wore out like flying carpets,
and those who were born to salt the field
and those who were born to sow,
and the rootless wildflowers
that gathered on the corners of concrete cities
like fire on the wind
only to be threshed by the blades of the moon,
cut down by the scarlet scythes of harvest squad cars.

And he has lingered among the opals and sapphires
and on the stairwells of water
that coiled like rivers and women
through the hovels of fire and ash
that consumed him like the memories of a phoenix
that had gone out like a pilot light,
and drunk the stars and eaten the radioactive meat
out of his own skull
like an enlightened begging bowl,
and come undone like a bell of wine in space
like a drunk shapeshifter, a staggering compass
on the high wire of his spinal cord
when his locks were moved by one of the keys of the mystery
that attuned him to the voice of his freedom
in a vast, starless abyss
that wiped the universe off the mirror
like the last breath of the light
to prove he was irrevocably dead.

And through all of this he has been a podium, a stage,
the gaping ellipse of the clear light of the void
auditioning another dream for the talent show,
an advance scout in the night
following rumours of stardom
across the appellant deserts of the moon
like thought chains of migrating geese
trying to remember their lines
like the secret names of God
on the rosaries of their long farewells,
and the only way to be anything
when he turned the light inward
was to agree that everyone had the answer but him,
that even the darkness that dyed
the clarity of his waters with night
to detonate the fireflies like blasting caps
wasn't a robe of his own
but the nocturnal paint rag of the sky
that has been making him sit for his portrait like space
for the last forty-seven years
of writing shadows on the road like poems.

And I haven't stopped crying for him since.

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Patrick White

And There Is One Voice

And there is one voice among many,
one I remember as mine
among so many drops of rain, so many stars,
so many leaves, flames, feathers, flowers,
and the teen-age girl in so many corners of the darkness
skeining her pencil webs across the page
to catch something, a butterfly hunting spiders
that won’t understand her,
and the lovers that have sifted downstream
from the radiant watersheds of their mountain plateaus
like silt over the laryngal deltas of my saying,
black pollen of extinguished stars
I carry around in the medicine bag of my afterlife
like mystic winds to keep the sails up
like the eyelids of a blind rose.
So many skies have enthroned themselves within me over the years,
so many waves and planets and legends of darkness
and the shipwrecks and shores of the weather,
and the storms and the birds, and the shriek of the lightning,
so many dawns and sunsets
and the strutting peacocks in the twilight,
and the sumptuous nights with their illicit luminosities,
so many banners of burning straw
as I look for the one needle of light
that was the gate and the eye and the mouth and the voice
of what most closely resembled me for awhile,
before I learned how to slough my skin
and the hauntings of the black poppies who long to be clear began,
and what was one threshold for a poet in solitude
turned into a palatial labyrinth of doors
that swung on their hinges in space like birds and tongues and bells
all the homeless whose last address will be a gravestone,
all the hapless, broken wretches
who keep trying again like losing bottle-caps,
and the women who came to the mike
to sing like an ambulance,
and the atrocities, the murders, the obscenity, the weeping,
that grabbed at my throat like severed hands
to scream of the horrors and sorrows
in the bloody braille and crippled signage of slaughtered flowers.
There was a boy. He was sixteen. And a prelude
that grained him out of a black cloud
that swirled around his feet like a snakepit
and pearled him into an eclipse
that time held up to the moon like a crow,
like a telescope silvered by the eyes of the night,
a black mirror that parted the veils of the obvious
like a woman’s legs
and went looking like a silo of infinite space
that echoed like a famine
into what he was the name of.
And he discovered he was nothing but the shadow of the world,
deaf mailmen, reluctant debutantes, car thieves
with the souls of hunted deer,
hookers whose blood glowed like neon
to fill the pleading mouths of a nest of empty wallets,
and the arrogant, the boring, the vicious,
the scholastic tidal pools who conjectured
about the existence of the great sea of being
that overwhelmed them day and night,
and the arsonists who walked in the rain of their distant exile
playing with their hearts like matches,
and the bruised violets who hide their eyes
under the sodden leaf of an autumn journal
that reads like the last ocean on the moon,
and the treacherous, the bitter, the liars
whose quivers of feathered asps
broke like arrows against the stone lions of the truth,
and the assassins who waited
like the thorn of a sundial to blood their shadows
in the eyeless witnesses of the crimes of noon
and the reformers who wanted to cover the earth in leather,
put shoes on the world
and wore out like flying carpets,
and those who were born to salt the field
and those who were born to sow,
and the rootless wildflowers
that gathered on the corners of concrete cities
like fire on the wind
only to be threshed by the blades of the moon,
cut down by the scarlet scythes of harvest squad cars.
And he has lingered among the opals and sapphires
and on the stairwells of water
that coiled like rivers and women
through the hovels of fire and ash
that consumed him like the memories of a phoenix
that had gone out like a pilot light,
and drunk the stars and eaten the radioactive meat
out of his own skull
like an enlightened begging bowl,
and come undone like a bell of wine in space
like a drunk shapeshifter, a staggering compass
on the high wire of his spinal cord
when his locks were moved by one of the keys of the mystery
that attuned him to the voice of his freedom
in a vast, starless abyss
that wiped the universe off the mirror
like the last breath of the light
to prove he was irrevocably dead.
And through all of this he has been a podium, a stage,
the gaping ellipse of the clear light of the void
auditioning another dream for the talent show,
an advance scout in the night
following rumours of stardom
across the appellant deserts of the moon
like thought chains of migrating geese
trying to remember their lines
like the secret names of God
on the rosaries of their long farewells,
and the only way to be anything
when he turned the light inward
was to agree that everyone had the answer but him,
that even the darkness that dyed
the clarity of his waters with night
to detonate the fireflies like blasting caps
wasn’t a robe of his own
but the nocturnal paint rag of of the sky
that has been making him sit for his portrait like space
for the last forty-seven years
of writing shadows on the road like poems
that haven’t stopped crying for him ever since.

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Goody Santa Claus on a Sleigh Ride

Santa, must I tease in vain, Deer? Let me go and hold the reindeer,
While you clamber down the chimneys. Don't look savage as a Turk!
Why should you have all the glory of the joyous Christmas story,
And poor little Goody Santa Claus have nothing but the work?

It would be so very cozy, you and I, all round and rosy,
Looking like two loving snowballs in our fuzzy Arctic furs,
Tucked in warm and snug together, whisking through the winter weather
Where the tinkle of the sleigh-bells is the only sound that stirs.

You just sit here and grow chubby off the goodies in my cubby
From December to December, till your white beard sweeps your knees;
For you must allow, my Goodman, that you're but a lazy woodman
And rely on me to foster all our fruitful Christmas trees.

While your Saintship waxes holy, year by year, and roly-poly,
Blessed by all the lads and lassies in the limits of the land,
While your toes at home you're toasting, then poor Goody must go posting
Out to plant and prune and garner, where our fir-tree forests stand.

Oh! but when the toil is sorest how I love our fir-tree forest,
Heart of light and heart of beauty in the Northland cold and dim,
All with gifts and candles laden to delight a boy or maiden,
And its dark-green branches ever murmuring the Christmas hymn!

Yet ask young Jack Frost, our neighbor, who but Goody has the labor,
Feeding roots with milk and honey that the bonbons may be sweet!
Who but Goody knows the reason why the playthings bloom in season
And the ripened toys and trinkets rattle gaily to her feet!

From the time the dollies budded, wiry-boned and saw-dust blooded,
With their waxen eyelids winking when the wind the tree-tops plied,
Have I rested for a minute, until now your pack has in it
All the bright, abundant harvest of the merry Christmastide?

Santa, wouldn't it be pleasant to surprise me with a present?
And this ride behind the reindeer is the boon your Goody begs;
Think how hard my extra work is, tending the Thanksgiving turkeys
And our flocks of rainbow chickens — those that lay the Easter eggs.

Home to womankind is suited? Nonsense, Goodman! Let our fruited
Orchards answer for the value of a woman out-of-doors.
Why then bid me chase the thunder, while the roof you're safely under,
All to fashion fire-crackers with the lighting in their cores?

See! I've fetched my snow-flake bonnet, with the sunrise ribbons on it;
I've not worn it since we fled from Fairyland our wedding day;
How we sped through iceberg porches with the Northern Lights for torches!
You were young and slender, Santa, and we had this very sleigh.

Jump in quick then? That's my bonny. Hey down derry! Nonny nonny!
While I tie your fur cap closer, I will kiss your ruddy chin.
I'm so pleased I fall to singing, just as sleigh-bells take to ringing!
Are the cloud-spun lap-robes ready? Tirra-lirra! Tuck me in.

Off across the starlight Norland, where no plant adorns the moorland
Save the ruby-berried holly and the frolic mistletoe!
Oh, but this is Christmas revel! Off across the frosted level
Where the reindeers' hoofs strike sparkles from the crispy, crackling snow!

There's the Man i' the Moon before us, bound to lead the Christmas chorus
With the music of the sky-waves rippling round his silver shell —
Glimmering boat that leans and tarries with the weight of dreams she carries
To the cots of happy children. Gentle sailor, steer her well!

Now we pass through dusky portals to the drowsy land of mortals;
Snow-enfolded, silent cities stretch about us dim and far.
Oh! how sound the world is sleeping, midnight watch no shepherd keeping,
Though an angel-face shines gladly down from every golden star.

Here's a roof. I'll hold the reindeer. I suppose this weather-vane, Dear,
Some one set here just on purpose for our teams to fasten to.
There's its gilded cock, — the gaby! — wants to crow and tell the baby
We are come. Be careful, Santa! Don't get smothered in the flue.

Back so soon? No chimney-swallow dives but where his mate can follow.
Bend your cold ear, Sweetheart Santa, down to catch my whisper faint:
Would it be so very shocking if your Goody filled a stocking
Just for once? Oh, dear! Forgive me. Frowns do not become a Saint.

I will peep in at the skylights, where the moon sheds tender twilights
Equally down silken chambers and down attics bare and bleak.
Let me show with hailstone candies these two dreaming boys — the dandies
In their frilled and fluted nighties, rosy cheek to rosy cheek!

What! No gift for this poor garret? Take a sunset sash and wear it
O'er the rags, my pale-faced lassie, till thy father smiles again.
He's a poet, but — oh, cruel! he has neither light nor fuel.
Here's a fallen star to write by, and a music-box of rain.

So our sprightly reindeer clamber, with their fairy sleigh of amber,
On from roof to roof , the woven shades of night about us drawn.
On from roof to roof we twinkle, all the silver bells a-tinkle,
Till blooms in yonder blessèd East the rose of Christmas dawn.

Now the pack is fairly rifled, and poor Santa's well-nigh stifled;
Yet you would not let your Goody fill a single baby-sock;
Yes, I know the task takes brain, Dear. I can only hold the reindeer,
And so see me climb down chimney — it would give your nerves a shock.

Wait! There's yet a tiny fellow, smiling lips and curls so yellow
You would think a truant sunbeam played in them all night. He spins
Giant tops, a flies kites higher than the gold cathedral spire
In his creams — the orphan bairnie, trustful little Tatterkins.

Santa, don't pass by the urchin! Shake the pack, and deeply search in
All your pockets. There is always one toy more. I told you so.
Up again? Why, what's the trouble? On your eyelash winks the bubble
Mortals call a tear, I fancy. Holes in stocking, heel and toe?

Goodman, though your speech is crusty now and then there's nothing rusty
In your heart. A child's least sorrow makes your wet eyes glisten, too;
But I'll mend that sock so nearly it shall hold your gifts completely.
Take the reins and let me show you what a woman's wit can do.

Puff! I'm up again, my Deary, flushed a bit and somewhat weary,
With my wedding snow-flake bonnet worse for many a sooty knock;
But be glad you let me wheedle, since, an icicle for needle,
Threaded with the last pale moonbeam, I have darned the laddie's sock.

Then I tucked a paint-box in it ('twas no easy task to win it
From the Artist of the Autumn Leaves) and frost-fruits white and sweet,
With the toys your pocket misses — oh! and kisses upon kisses
To cherish safe from evil paths the motherless small feet.

Chirrup! chirrup! There's a patter of soft footsteps and a clatter
Of child voices. Speed it, reindeer, up the sparkling Arctic Hill!
Merry Christmas, little people! Joy-bells ring in every steeple,
And Goody's gladdest of the glad. I've had my own sweet will.

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The Philanthropic Society

INSCRIBED TO THE DUKE OF LEEDS.

When Want, with wasted mien and haggard eye,
Retires in silence to her cell to die;
When o'er her child she hangs with speechless dread,
Faint and despairing of to-morrow's bread;
Who shall approach to bid the conflict cease,
And to her parting spirit whisper peace!
Who thee, poor infant, that with aspect bland
Dost stretch forth innocent thy helpless hand,
Shall pitying then protect, when thou art thrown
On the world's waste, unfriended and alone!
O hapless Infancy! if aught could move
The hardest heart to pity and to love
'Twere surely found in thee: dim passions mark
Stern manhood's brow, where age impresses dark
The stealing line of sorrow; but thine eye
Wears not distrust, or grief, or perfidy.
Though fortune's storms with dismal shadow lower,
Thy heart nor fears, nor feels the bitter shower;
Thy tear is soon forgotten; thou wilt weep,
And then the murmuring winds will hush thy sleep,
As 'twere with some sad music;--and thy smiles,
Unlike to those that cover cruel wiles,
Plead best thy speechless innocence, and lend
A charm might win the world to be thy friend.
But thou art oft abandoned in thy smiles,
And early vice thy easy heart beguiles.
Oh for some voice, that of the secret maze
Where the grim passions lurk, the winding ways
That lead to sin, and ruth, and deep lament,
Might haply warn thee, whilst yet innocent
And beauteous as the spring-time o'er the hills
Advancing, when each vale glad music fills!
Else lost and wandering, the benighted mind
No spot of rest again shall ever find;
Then the sweet smiles, that erst enchanting laid
Their magic beauty on thy look, shall fade;
Then the bird's warbled song no more shall cheer
With morning music thy delighted ear;
Fell thoughts and muttering passions shall awake,
And the fair rose the sullied cheek forsake!
As when still Autumn's gradual gloom is laid
Far o'er the fading forest's saddened shade,
A mournful gleam illumines the cold hill,
Yet palely wandering o'er the distant rill;
But when the hollow gust, slow rising, raves,
And high the pine on yon lone summit waves,
Each milder charm, like pictures of a dream,
Hath perished, mute the birds, and dark the stream!
Scuds the dreer sleet upon the whirlwind borne,
And scowls the landscape clouded and forlorn!
So fades, so perishes frail Virtue's hue;
Her last and lingering smile seems but to rue,
Like autumn, every summer beauty reft,
Till all is dark and to the winter left.
Yet spring, with living touch, shall paint again
The green-leaved forest, and the purple plain;
With mingling melody the woods shall ring,
The whispering breeze its long-lost incense fling:
But, Innocence! when once thy tender flower
The sickly taint has touched, where is the power
That shall bring back its fragrance, or restore
The tints of loveliness, that shine no more?
How then for thee, who pinest in life's gloom,
Abandoned child! can hope or virtue bloom!
For thee, exposed amid the desert drear,
Which no glad gales or vernal sunbeams cheer!
Though some there are, who lift their head sublime,
Nor heed the transient storms of fate or time;
Too oft, alas! beneath unfriendly skies,
The tender blossom shrinks its leaves, and dies!
Go, struggle with thy fate, pursue thy way;--
Though thou art poor, the world around is gay!
Thou hast no bread; but on thy aching sight
Proud luxury's pavilions glitter bright;
In thy cold ear the song of gladness swells,
Whilst vacant folly chimes her tinkling bells:
The careless crowd prolong their hollow glee,
Nor one relenting bosom thinks of thee.
Will not the indignant spirit then rebel,
And the dark tide of passions fearful swell!
Will not despight, perhaps, or bitter need,
Urge then thy temper to some direful deed!
Pale Guilt shall call thee to her ghastly band,
Or Murder welcome thee with reeking hand!
O wretched state, where our best feelings lie
Deep sunk in sullen, hopeless apathy!
Or wakeful cares, or gloomy terrors start,
And night and tempest mingle in the heart!
All mournful to the pensive sage's eye,
The monuments of human glory lie;
Fall'n palaces, crushed by the ruthless haste
Of time, and many an empire's silent waste,
Where, 'midst the vale of long-departed years,
The form of desolation dim appears,
Pointing to the wild plain with ruin spread,
The wrecks of age, and records of the dead!
But where a sight shall shuddering sorrow find,
Sad as the ruins of the human mind;--
As Man, by his GREAT MAKER raised sublime
Amid the universe, ordained to climb
The arduous height where Virtue sits serene;--
As Man, the high lord of this nether scene,
So fall'n, so lost!--his noblest boast destroyed,
His sweet affections left a piteous void!
But oh, sweet Charity! what sounds were those
That met the listening ear, soft as the close
Of distant music, when the hum of day
Is hushed, and dying gales the airs convey!
Come, hapless orphans, meek Compassion cried,
Where'er, unsheltered outcasts! ye abide
The bitter driving wind, the freezing sky,
_The oppressor's scourge, the proud man's contumely_;
Come, hapless orphans! ye who never saw
A tear of kindness shed on your cold straw;
Who never met with joy the morning light,
Or lisped your little prayer of peace at night;
Come, hapless orphans! nor, when youth should spring
Soaring aloft, as on an eagle's wing,
Shall ye forsaken on the ground be left,
Of hope, of virtue, and of peace bereft!
Far from the springtide gale, and joyous day,
In the deep caverns of Despair ye lay:
She, iron-hearted mother, never pressed
Your wasted forms with transport to her breast;
When none o'er all the world your 'plaint would hear,
She never kissed away the falling tear,
Or fondly smiled, forgetful, to behold
Some infant grace its early charm unfold.
She ne'er with mingling hopes and rising fears,
Sighed for the fortune of your future years:
Or saw you hand in hand rejoicing stray
Beneath the morning sun, on youth's delightful way.
But happier scenes invite, and fairer skies;
From your dark bed, children of woe, arise!
In caves where peace ne'er smiled, where joy ne'er came,
Where Friendship's eye ne'er glistened at the name
Of one she loved, where famine and despair
Sat silent 'mid the damp and lurid air,
The soothing voice is heard; a beam of light
Is cast upon their features, sunk and white;
With trembling joy they catch the stealing sound;
Their famished little ones come smiling round.
Sweet Infancy! whom all the world forsook,
Thou hast put on again thy cherub look:
Guilt, shrinking at the sight, in deep dismay
Flies cowering, and resigns his wonted prey.
But who is she, in garb of misery clad,
Yet of less vulgar mien? A look so sad
The mourning maniac wears, so wild, yet meek;
A beam of joy now wanders o'er her cheek,
The pale eye visiting; it leaves it soon,
As fade the dewy glances of the moon
Upon some wandering cloud, while slow the ray
Retires, and leaves more dark the heaven's wide way.
Lost mother, early doomed to guilt and shame,
Whose friends of youth now sigh not o'er thy name,
Heavy has sorrow fall'n upon thy head,
Yet think--one hope remains when thou art dead;
Thy houseless child, thy only little one,
Shall not look round, defenceless and alone,
For one to guide her youth;--nor with dismay
Each stranger's cold unfeeling look survey.
She shall not now be left a prey to shame,
Whilst slow disease preys on her faded frame;
Nor, when the bloom of innocence is fled,
Thus fainting bow her unprotected head.
Oh, she shall live, and Piety and Truth,
The loveliest ornaments, shall grace her youth.
And should her eye with softest lustre shine,
And should she wear such smiles as once were thine,
The smiles of peace and virtue they shall prove,
Blessing the calm abode of faithful love.
For ye who thus, by pure compassion taught,
Have wept o'er human sorrows;--who have sought
Want's dismal cell, and pale as from the dead
To life and light the speechless orphan led;--
Trust that the deed, in Mercy's book enrolled,
Approving spirits of the just behold!
Meanwhile, new virtues here, as on the wing
Of morn, from Sorrow's dreary shades shall spring;
Young Modesty, with fair untainted bloom;
And Industry, that sings beside her loom;
And ruddy Labour, issuing from his hatch
Ere the slant sunbeam strikes the lowly thatch;
And sweet Contentment, smiling on a rock,
Like a fair shepherdess beside her flock;
And tender Love, that hastes with myrtle-braid
To bind the tresses of the favoured maid;
And Piety, with unclasped holy book,
Lifting to heaven her mildly-beaming look:
These village virtues on the plain shall throng,
And Albion's hills resound a cheerful song;
Whilst Charity, with dewy eyelids bland,
Leading a lisping infant in her hand,
Shall bend at pure Religion's holy shrine,
And say, These children, GOD OF LOVE, are thine!

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Victor Hugo

La Fée Et La Péri (The Fay And The Peri)

I

Enfants ! si vous mouriez, gardez bien qu'un esprit
De la route des cieux ne détourne votre âme !
Voici ce qu'autrefois un vieux sage m'apprit : -
Quelques démons, sauvés de l'éternelle flamme,
Rebelles moins pervers que l'Archange proscrit,
Sur la terre, où le feu, l'onde ou l'air les réclame,
Attendent, exilés, le jour de Jésus-Christ.
Il en est qui, bannis des célestes phalanges,
Ont de si douces voix qu'on les prend pour des anges.
Craignez-les : pour mille ans exclus du paradis,
Ils vous entraîneraient, enfants, au purgatoire ! -
Ne me demandez pas d'où me vient cette histoire;
Nos pères l'ont contée; et moi, je la redis.


II

LA PÉRI
Où vas-tu donc, jeune âme?... Écoute !
Mon palais pour toi veut s'ouvrir.
Suis-moi, des cieux quitte la route;
Hélas ! tu t'y perdrais sans doute,
Nouveau-né, qui viens de mourir !
Tu pourras jouer à toute heure
Dans mes beaux jardins aux fruits d'or;
Et de ma riante demeure
Tu verras ta mère qui pleure
Près de ton berceau, tiède encor.
Des Péris je suis la plus belle;
Mes sueurs règnent où naît le jour;
Je brille en leur troupe immortelle,
Comme entre les fleurs brille celle
Que l'on cueille en rêvant d'amour.
Mon front porte un turban de soie;
Mes bras de rubis sont couverts;
Quand mon vol ardent se déploie,
L'aile de pourpre qui tournoie
Roule trois yeux de flamme ouverts.
Plus blanc qu'une lointaine voile,
Mon corps n'en a point la pâleur;
En quelque lieu qu'il se dévoile,
Il l'éclaire comme une étoile,
Il l'embaume comme une fleur.


LA FÉE

Viens, bel enfant ! Je suis la Fée.
Je règne aux bords où le soleil
Au sein de l'onde réchauffée
Se plonge, éclatant et vermeil.
Les peuples d'Occident m'adorent
Les vapeurs de leur ciel se dorent,
Lorsque je passe en les touchant;
Reine des ombres léthargiques,
Je bâtis mes palais magiques
Dans les nuages du couchant.
Mon aile bleue est diaphane;
L'essaim des Sylphes enchantés
Croit voir sur mon dos, quand je plane,
Frémir deux rayons argentés.
Ma main luit, rose et transparente;
Mon souffle est la brise odorante
Qui, le soir, erre dans les champs;
Ma chevelure est radieuse,
Et ma bouche mélodieuse
Mêle un sourire à tous ses chants.
J'ai des grottes de coquillages;
J'ai des tentes de rameaux verts;
C'est moi que bercent les feuillages,
Moi que berce le flot des mers.
Si tu me suis, ombre ingénue,
Je puis t'apprendre où va la nue,
Te montrer d'où viennent les eaux;
Viens, sois ma compagne nouvelle,
Si tu veux que je te révèle
Ce que dit la voix des oiseaux.


III

LA PÉRI

Ma sphère est l'Orient, région éclatante,
Où le soleil est beau comme un roi dans sa tente !
Son disque s'y promène en un ciel toujours pur.
Ainsi, portant l'émir d'une riche contrée,
Aux sons de la flûte sacrée,
Vogue un navire d'or sur une ruer d'azur.
Tous les dons ont comblé la zone orientale.
Dans tout autre climat, par une loi fatale,
Près des fruits savoureux croissent les fruits amers;
Mais Dieu, qui pour l'Asie a des yeux moins austères,
Y donne plus de fleurs aux terres,
Plus d'étoiles aux cieux, plus de perles aux mers.
Mon royaume s'étend depuis ces catacombes
Qui paraissent des monts et ne sont que des tombes,
Jusqu'à ce mur qu'un peuple ose en vain assiéger,
Qui, tel qu'une ceinture où le Cathay respire,
Environnant tout un empire,
Garde dans l'univers comme un monde étranger.
J'ai de vastes cités qu'en tous lieus on admire
Lahore aux champs fleuris; Golconde; Cachemire;
La guerrière Damas; la royale Ispahan;
Bagdad, que ses remparts couvrent comme une armure;
Alep, dont l'immense murmure
Semble au pâtre lointain le bruit d'un océan.
Mysore est sur son trône une reine placée;
Médine aux mille tours, d'aiguilles hérissée,
Avec ses flèches d'or, ses kiosques brillants,
Est comme un bataillon, arrêté dans les plaines,
Qui, parmi ses tentes hautaines,
Élève une forêt de dards étincelants.
On dirait qu'au désert, Thèbes, debout encore,
Attend son peuple entier, absent depuis l'aurore.
Madras a deux cités dans ses larges contours.
Plus loin brille Delhy, la ville sans rivales,
Et sous ses portes triomphales
Douze éléphants de front passent avec leurs tours.
Bel enfant ! viens errer, parmi tant de merveilles,
Sur ces toits pleins de fleurs ainsi que des corbeilles,
Dans le camp vagabond des arabes ligués.
Viens; nous verrons danser les jeunes bayadères,
Le soir, lorsque les dromadaires
Près du puits du désert s'arrêtent fatigués.
Là, sous de verts figuiers, sous d'épais sycomores,
Luit le dôme d'étain du minaret des maures;
La pagode de nacre au toit rose et changeant;
La tour de porcelaine aux clochettes dorées;
Et, dans les jonques azurées,
Le palanquin de pourpre aux longs rideaux d'argent.
J'écarterai pour toi les rameaux du platane
Qui voile dans son bain la rêveuse sultane;
Viens, nous rassurerons contre un ingrat oubli
La vierge qui, timide, ouvrant la nuit sa porte,
Écoute si le vent lui porte
La voix qu'elle préfère au chant du bengali.
L'Orient fut jadis le paradis du monde.
Un printemps éternel de ses roses l'inonde,
Et ce vaste hémisphère est un riant jardin.
Toujours autour de nous sourit la douce joie;
Toi qui gémis, suis notre voie,
Que t'importe le ciel, quand je t'ouvre l'éden?

LA FÉE

L'Occident nébuleux est ma patrie heureuse.
Là, variant dans l'air sa forme vaporeuse,
Fuit la blanche nuée, - et de loin, bien souvent,
Le mortel isolé qui, radieux ou sombre,
Poursuit un songe ou pleure une ombre,
Assis, la contemple en rêvant !
Car il est des douceurs pour les âmes blessées
Dans les brumes du lac sur nos bois balancées,
Dans nos monts où l'hiver semble à jamais s'asseoir,
Dans l'étoile, pareille à l'espoir solitaire,
Qui vient, quand le jour fuit la terre,
Mêler son orient au soir.
Nos cieux voilés plairont à ta douleur amère,
Enfant que Dieu retire et qui pleures ta mère !
Viens, l'écho des vallons, les soupirs du ruisseau,
Et la voix des forêts au bruit des vents unie,
Te rendront la vague harmonie
Qui t'endormait dans ton berceau.
Crains des bleus horizons le cercle monotone.
Les brouillards, les vapeurs, le nuage qui tonne,
Tempèrent le soleil dans nos cieux parvenu;
Et l'œil voit au loin fuir leurs lignes nébuleuses,
Comme des flottes merveilleuses
Qui viennent d'un monde inconnu.
C'est pour moi que les vents font, sur nos mers bruyantes,
Tournoyer l'air et l'onde en trombes foudroyantes;
La tempête à mes chants suspend son vol fatal;
L'arc-en-ciel pour mes pieds, qu'un or fluide arrose,
Comme un pont de nacre, se pose
Sur les cascades de cristal.
Du moresque Alhambra j'ai les frêles portiques;
J'ai la grotte enchantée aux piliers basaltiques,
Où la mer de Staffa brise un flot inégal;
Et j'aide le pécheur, roi des vagues brumeuses,
A bâtir ses huttes fumeuses
Sur les vieux palais de Fingal.
Épouvantant les nuits d'une trompeuse aurore,
Là, souvent à ma voix un rouge météore
Croise en voûte de feu ses gerbes dans les airs;
Et le chasseur, debout sur la roche pendante,
Croit voir une comète ardente
Baignant ses flammes dans les mers.
Viens, jeune âme, avec moi, de mes sueurs obéie,
Peupler de gais follets la morose abbaye;
Mes nains et mes géants te suivront à ma voix;
Viens, troublant de ton cor les monts inaccessibles,
Guider ces meutes invisibles
Qui, la nuit, chassent dans nos bois.
Tu verras les barons, sous leurs tours féodales,
De l'humble pèlerin détachant les sandales;
Et les sombres créneaux d'écussons décorés;
Et la dame tout bas priant, pour un beau page,
Quelque mystérieuse image
Peinte sur des vitraux dorés.
C'est nous qui, visitant les gothiques églises,
Ouvrons leur nef sonore au murmure des brises;
Quand la lune du tremble argente les rameaux,
Le pâtre voit dans l'air, avec des chants mystiques,
Folâtrer nos chœurs fantastiques
Autour du clocher des hameaux.
De quels enchantements l'Occident se décore! -
Viens, le ciel est bien loin, ton aile est faible encore !
Oublie en notre empire un voyage fatal.
Un charme s'y révèle aux lieux les plus sauvages;
Et l'étranger dit nos rivages
Plus doux que le pays natal !

IV

Et l'enfant hésitait, et déjà moins rebelle
Écoutait des esprits l'appel fallacieux;
La terre qu'il fuyait semblait pourtant si belle !
Soudain il disparut à leur vue infidèle...
Il avait entrevu les cieux !


The Fay and the Peri


The Peri

Beautiful spirit, come with me
Over the blue enchanted sea.
Morn and evening thou canst play
In my garden, where the breeze
Warbles through the fruity trees;
No shadow falls upon the day.
There thy mother's arms await
Her cherished infant at the gate.
Of Peris I the loveliest far.
My sisters near the morning-star
In ever youthful bloom abide,
But pale their lustre by my side.
A silken turban wreaths my head,
Rubies on my arms are spread,
While sailing slowly through the sky,
Bt the uplooker's dazzled eye
Are seen my wings of purple hue,
Glittering with Elysian dew.
Whiter than a far-off sail
My form of beauty glows,
Fair as on a summer night
Dawns the sleep-star's gentle light,
And fragrant as the early rose
That scents the green Arabian vale,
Soothing the pilgrim as he goes.


The Fay

Beautiful infant (said the Fay),
In the region of the sun
I dwell, where in a rich array
The clouds encircle the king of day,
His radiant journey done.
My wings, pure golden, of radiant sheen
(Painted as amorous poet's strain),
Glimmer at night, when meadows green
Sparkle with the perfumed rain
While the sun's gone to come again.
And clear my hand as stream that flows;
And sweet my breath as air of May;
And o'er my ivory shoulders stray
Locks of sunshine; tunes still play
From my odorous lips of rose.
Follow, follow! I have caves
Of pearl beneath the azure waves,
And tents all woven pleasantly
In verdant glades of Faery.
Come, beloved child, with me,
And I will bear thee to the bowers
Where clouds are painted o'er like flowers,
ANd pour into thy charmed ear
Songs a mortal may not hear,—
Harmonies so sweet and ripe
As no inspired shepherd's pipe
E'er breathed into Arcadian glen,
Far from the busy haunts of men.


The Peri

My home is afar in the Orient,
Where the sun, like a king, in his orange tent
Reigneth forever in gorgeous pride;
And wafting thee, princess of rich countree,
To the soft flute's lush melody,
My golden vessel will gently glide,
Kindling the water 'long the side.

Vast cities are mine of power and delight,—
Lahore laid in lillies, Golconda, Cashmere,
And Ispahan, dear to the pilgrim's sight;
And Baghdad, whose towers to heaven uproar;
Alep, that pours on the startled ear,
From its restless masts the gathering roar,
As of ocean hamm'ring at night on the shore.

Mysore is a queen on her stately throne,
Thy white domes, Medina, gleam on the eye;
Thy radiant kiosques with their arrowy spires,
Shooting afar their golden fires
Into the flashing sky,
Like a forest of spears that startle the gaze
Of the enemy with the vivid blaze.

Come there, beautiful child, with me!
Come to the arcades of Araby,
To the land of the date and the purple vine,
Where pleasure her rosy wreaths doth twine,
And gladness shall be alway thine;
Singing at sunset next thy bed,
Strewing flowers under thy head.

Beneath a verdant roof of leaves,
Arching a flow'ry carpet o'er,
Thou mayst liest ot lutes on summer eves
Their lays of rustic freshness pour,
While upon the grassy floor
Light footsteps, in the hour of calm,
Ruffle the shadow of the palm.


The Fay

Come to the radiant homes of the blest,
Where meadows like fountain in light are drest,
And the grottoes of verdure never decay,
And the glow of the August dies not away.
Come where the autumn winds never can sweep,
And the streams of the woodland steep thee in sleep,
Like a fond sister charming the eyes of a brother,
Or a little lass lulled on the breast of her mother.
Beautiful! beautiful! hasten to me!
Coloured with crimson thy wings shall be;
Flowers that fade not they forehead shall twine,
Over thee sunlight that sets not shall shine.

The infant listened to the strain,
Now here, now there, its thoughts were driven.
But the Fay and the Peri waited in vain;
The soul soared above such a sensual gain,—
The child rose to heaven.

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