When do I see thee most, beloved one?
When in the light the spirits of mine eyes
Before thy face, their altar, solemnize
The worship of that Love through thee made known?
Or when in the dusk hours, (we two alone)
Close-kissed and eloquent of still replies
Thy twilight-hidden glimmering visage lies,
And my soul only sees thy soul its own?
O love - my love! if I no more should see Thyself,
nor on the earth the shadow of thee,
Nor image of thine eyes in any spring,
How then should sound upon Life's darkening slope
The groundwhirl of the perished leaves of Hope
The wind of Death's imperishable wing?
Your hands lie open in the long fresh grass, -
The finger-points look through like rosy blooms:
Your eyes smile peace. The pasture gleams and glooms
'Neath billowing [clouds]* that scatter and amass.
All round our nest, far as the eye can pass,
Are golden kingcup fields with silver edge
Where the cow-parsley skirts the hawthorn hedge.
'Tis visible silence, still as the hour glass.
Deep in the sunsearched growths the dragon-fly
Hangs like a blue thread loosened from the sky: -
So this winged hour is dropt to us from above.
Oh! clasp we to our hearts, for deathless dower,
This close-companioned inarticulate hour
When twofold silence was the song of love.
One flame-winged brought a white-winged harp-player
Even where my lady and I lay all alone;
Saying: "Behold this minstrel is unknown;
Bid him depart, for I am minstrel here:
Only my songs are to love's dear ones dear."
Then said I "Through thine hautboy's rapturous tone
Unto my lady still this harp makes moan,
And still she deems the cadence deep and clear."
Then said my lady: "Thou art passion of Love,
And this Love's worship: both he plights to me.
Thy mastering music walks the sunlit sea:
But where wan water trembles in the grove,
And the wan moon is all the light thereof,
This harp still makes my name its voluntary."
Sometimes she is a child within mine arms,
Cow'ring beneath dark wings that love must chase,
With still tears show'ring and averted face,
Inexplicably filled with faint alarms:
And oft from mine own spirit's hurtling harms
I crave the refuge of her deep embrace,
Against all ills the fortified strong place
And sweet reserve of sov'reign counter charms.
And Love, our light at night and shade at noon,
Lulls us to rest with songs, and turns away
All shafts of shelterless tumultuous day.
Like the moon's growth, his face gleams through his tune;
And as soft waters warble to the moon,
Our answ'ring spirits chime one roundelay.
Death in Love
There came an image in Life's retinue
That had Love's wings and bore his gonfalon:
Fair was the web, and nobly wrought thereon,
O soul-sequestered face, thy form and hue!
Bewildering sounds, such as Spring wakens to,
Shook in its folds; and through my heart its power
Sped trackless as the memorable hour
When birth's dark portal groaned and all was new
But a veiled woman followed, and she caught
The banner round its staff, to furl and cling,
Then plucked a feather from the bearer's wing,
And held it to his lips that stirred it not,
And said to me, "Behold, there is no breath:
I and this Love are one, and I am Death."
Love's last gift
Love to his singer held a glistening leaf,
and said: "The rose-tree and the apple-tree
Have fruits to vaunt or flowers to lure the bee;
And golden shafts are in the feathered sheaf
Of the great harvest marshal, the year's chief
Victorious summer; aye, and 'neath warm sea
Strange secret grasses lurk inviolably
Between the filtering channels of sunk reef...
All are my blooms; and all sweet blooms of love
To thee I gave while spring and summer sang;
But autumn stops to listen, with some pang
From those worse things the wind is moaning of.
Only this laurel dreads no winter days:
Take my last gift; thy heart hath sung my praise."