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Of lake and stream, and the sky's downy brood,
Of roads sequestered rimmed with sallow sod,
But friends with hardhack, aster, goldenrod,
Or succory keeping summer long its trust Of heaven-blue fleckless from the eddying dust:
These were my earliest friends, and latest too,
Still unestranged, whatever fate may do. For years I had these treasures, knew their worth,
Estate most real man can have on earth.
Too well these Capuas could my muscles waste,
Not void of toils, but toils of choice and taste;
These still had kept me could I but have
To check the items in the bitter list
By ædiles chosen that they might safely steal;
And gold, however got, a title fair
That we might trample to congenial mud
Where find retreat? How keep reproach at bay?
Where'er I turn some scandal fouls the way.
Dear friend, if any man I wished to please, 'T were surely you whose humor's honied
Past my next milestone waits my seventieth year.
I mount no longer when the trumpets call;
My battle-harness idles on the wall, The spider's castle, camping-ground of dust,
Not without dints, and all in front, I trust. Shivering sometimes it calls me as it hears Afar the charge's tramp and clash of spears;
But 't is such murmur only as might be The sea-shell's lost tradition of the sea, That makes me muse and wonder Where? and When?
While from my cliff I watch the waves of
Instincts, if less imperious, yet more
And happy in the toil that ends with song.
Home am I come: not, as I hoped might be,
To the old haunts, too full of ghosts for me, But to the olden dreams that time endears,
And the loved books that younger grow with years;
To country rambles, timing with my tread Some happier verse that carols in my head,
Yet all with sense of something vainly mist,
Of something lost, but when I never wist. How empty seems to me the populous street,
One figure gone I daily loved to meet, The clear, sweet singer with the crown of
Such natures double-darken gloomy skies.
Of good and beautiful embarked before; With bits of wreck I patch the boat shall bear
Me to that unexhausted Otherwhere, Whose friendly-peopled shore I sometimes
By soft mirage uplifted, beckon me,
Less than divine that she might mate with me?
If mortal merely, could my nature cope With such o'ermastery of maddening hope ?
If Goddess, could she feel the blissful woe That women in their self-surrender know?
Long she abode aloof there in her heaven, Far as the grape-bunch of the Pleiad seven Beyond my madness' utmost leap; but
Mine eyes have feigned of late her rapture
Moulded of mind-mist that broad day dispels,
Here in these shadowy woods and brooklulled dells.
Have no heaven-habitants e'er felt a void In hearts sublimed with ichor unalloyed? E'er longed to mingle with a mortal fate Intense with pathos of its briefer date? Could she partake, and live, our human stains?
Even with the thought there tingles through my veins
Sense of unwarned renewal; I, the dead, Receive and house again the ardor fled, As once Alcestis; to the ruddy brim
Feel masculine virtue flooding every limb, And life, like Spring returning, brings the key
That sets my senses from their winter free, Dancing like naked fauns too glad for shame.
Her passion, purified to palest flame,
(Or what of it was palpably divine
My Goddess sinks; round Latmos' darkening brow
Trembles the parting of her presence now, Faint as the perfume left upon the grass By her limbs' pressure or her feet that pass
By me conjectured, but conjectured so As things I touch far fainter substance show.
Was it mine eyes' imposture I have seen Flit with the moonbeams on from shade to sheen
Through the wood-openings ? Nay, I see her now
Out of her heaven new-lighted, from her brow
The hair breeze-scattered, like loose mists that blow
Across her crescent, goldening as they go High-kirtled for the chase, and what was shown,
Of maiden rondure, like the rose halfblown.
If dream, turn real! If a vision, stay!
Deeper in reach, in force of fate more rich, Than e'er was juice wrung by Thessalian witch